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Top 5 Tips for Catering a Cocktail Party

Believe it or not, you don’t have to plan a fancy, sit down dinner every time you host a special event. Sometimes, a cocktail party is the perfect solution for when you want to bring together good company, treat them to good food and drinks and enjoy a few hours of socializing without the pressure of planning a three-course meal. Cocktail parties are easy to plan, they’re glamorous and low stress and you can experiment with different flavors since you’ll be serving a variety of hors d’oeuvres. Whether you are planning a cocktail party for a corporate event or a special milestone, we have compiled our top five tips for catering a cocktail party to make it even easier for you!

The Invitations

Before the party begins, you have to invite your guests. Depending on the type of event you’re hosting and the level of elegance you are trying to achieve you can send printed invitations in an envelope via the postal office, or you can send an informal, but elegant email invitation. 

The Drinks

If you are catering a cocktail party, you need to offer a full bar with a variety of liquor and mixers, and also come up with some signature drinks that feature a unique and delicious combination. The most important thing is to make sure you have enough alcohol for the number of guests in attendance. A 750-ml bottle of wine is enough for four generous glasses, so if you have 30 guests you will want to have at least ten bottles – remembering that white wine tends to be more popular. When stocking a full bar, keep in mind that each adult will consume an average of two drinks during the first hour and at least one drink for every hour thereafter. A one-liter bottle of alcohol will typically be enough for 22 mixed drinks, but it’s always a good idea to get extra. Also, make sure to offer plenty of water, both flat and sparkling. You can make it special by serving it in a nice drink dispenser with fresh slices of lemon or a handful of colorful berries. 

The Food

The best part about a cocktail party is planning out the delicious hors d’oeuvres and little bites to serve. You are not obligated to serve a full meal, but a variety in flavor, texture and presentation is a must. When it comes to catering a cocktail party, here are some guidelines we like to follow:

  • Use seasonal flavors – explore local farmer’s markets and design your menu to be in line with the best tasting options. 

  • Mix it up – your food options don’t have to match in any way. It’s ok to have five different flavors and textures, your guests will appreciate the variety. 

  • Offer traditional favorites – people love bite size appetizers like mac and cheese balls, soup shooters, ahi tuna on a chip, skewers, caprese bites and others!

  • Think of the vegetarians – always offer meatless options for guests who have dietary restrictions. This also includes Kosher, gluten free or vegan guests. Make sure to have dietary information ahead of time. 

  • Keep fillers like nuts, olives and cheese on hand for guests to snack on before the food is served. 

  • Consider offering a specialty station, like crudité, charcuterie or a pizza. This way guests can nibble without waiting for the tray passed food to come around. 

The Décor

You don’t need to provide full size tables and chairs for a cocktail party, but you will want to have bar height tables and maybe a lounge area where guests can sit and chat. Keep the décor simple – think black or white tablecloths, simple florals and tasteful tealights. You can add cute décor like custom bar napkins and monogrammed drink stirrers at the bar. You also want to make sure you have enough rentals for your guests – plate ware and glassware specifically. 

The Staff

When catering a cocktail party, you will want to hire a bartender and service staff. Based on the size of your event, it’s typical to have one server per 10-15 guests, depending on the level of service you are looking to offer. 

Hosting a cocktail party is a fun and low-stress way of bringing people together for a good time. When you work with our team, you can leave the planning and execution to us! We’ll come up with a unique menu to wow your guests and we’ll ensure your event is professional, elegant and goes off without a hitch! Contact us to inquire about our availability and service options! 


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