Cocktail parties were the soul of the midcentury culture. Back in the day, it was impossible to imagine a Friday or Saturday evening without sharing a drink with a couple of friends or coworkers. Without Facebook and Instagram, the high and low of everyone’s social life was during the cocktail hour when being quick on the booze wasn’t considered as that much of a taboo, but rather a popular way to let off the steam. Perhaps a bit posh from today’s perspective, vintage parties were all about conversation and that laid-back atmosphere. Soft laughter, light music and clinking glasses filled the air, while guests enjoyed their drinks and hors d’oeuvres over a chat. A celebration of entertaining and networking, the cocktail party was the heart of mid-century society.
But when was the last time you attended a vintage-inspired cocktail party? It is no wonder! These extraordinary events are becoming scarce, which, once again, makes them unbelievably fresh and desirable. There’s nothing more fun and entertaining than a well-organised retro-themed party, so let’s find out what you will need to put a little midcentury spin into your social life. And believe us, that’s exactly what you need to do!
Make a plan
Image source: Swoon Worthy
To make the event run smoothly and stress-free, you will want to think everything through well in advance. Come up with a theme to reference the style of the era and put together a guest list with the RSVP etiquette as early on as you can.
Think through the menu and the decor. Keep it simple and on point with some fun, conversation-starting details.
Photo by Brad and Jen Butcher
Greet the guests with a welcoming drink to jazz up the mood and ease them into the conversation. A great cocktail is the perfect way to get the evening off to a good start, so make sure to cater to everyone’s personal taste. Pick a few signature cocktails for the party (martini, daiquiri, Tom Collins, Old Fashioned, Mai Tai), along with punch, gin and a bottle of Scotch.
But don’t overcomplicate the drink menu unless you’ve found someone to tend the bar for the evening as having too many options can quickly turn into a nightmare for the host.
Prioritise the drinks that can be either pre-made (like a punch) or self-made by the guests.
Stock up on everything one needs to prepare the cocktails and make sure to, just in case, place the cocktail recipes on a visible place close to the bar.
Image source: The Perfect Palette
The devil is in the details. Once the cocktail list has been established, focus on your presentation. The glassware and accessorises you select for the party will play a major role in setting the mood and can help you elevate the evening from ordinary to stylish.
To fully appreciate the cocktail party experience, we highly recommend serving the drinks in proper glassware. The right glass will not only look fab but will also add to the taste. Sparkly vessels, cupboards, wine glasses and shots, lay out the best candidates for the drinks you plan on serving for the evening.
When throwing a midcentury-inspired party, vintage decanters are a must! They not only make the wine tastes better but can also serve as wonderful centrepieces.
Set up a self-serve bar or a drink station
Image credit: Danielle Gervino
Thanks to the vivid social life of its owners, mid-century homes often included bar charts and mini-bars. Having a dedicated place to store the liquor can be very useful during the parties as it helps with keeping the drinks organised and perfectly styled without much hustle.
A small apartment’s best friend, the trolley doesn’t take much space but can wear many hats depending on the needs of its owner. From the stylish, Insta-worthy vignette filled with plants and books, to a handy, portable drink station for the evening events, this workhorse piece of furniture does magic when space is at a premium.
Whether you have a bar cart or a drink cabinet at your disposal, use it to set a self-serve drink station for the guests. Think bottles, decanters, shakers and ice buckets with lots and lots of ice.
Or, if you feel extravagant, why not opt for a home bar?
With all that liquor, there should be room for some food too. Canapes served on a tray is your best bet as they can be eaten with one hand while holding a drink in the other.
Let the music play
Image source: Apartment Therapy
Lastly, put on some ‘60s sounds and mingle. Let Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole and Miles Davis provide the mood, while you enjoy the slow evening of catching up with your friends over a cocktail. If the music is low enough, you can talk the night away. And when the cocktails start to kick in, turn the volume up a notch to get into the groove and dance on!
Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Janae Hardy