New This Month

Easy Breezy: An After-Work Cocktail Party Menu

  • Photos by Randy Harris

A beautiful evening is worth celebrating -- but not stressing over. Scrumptious finger foods and refreshing cocktails make for a doable city-chic soiree.

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The Bites

Much of the menu here can be prepared in advance, making it possible to entertain even when you're really busy -- say, after a long day at work. Come to think of it, that may be the perfect time to have a party.

The Strategy

  • What to Make
    Just a couple of homemade hors d'oeuvres make a get-together feel special. The meatballs can be formed a day ahead and refrigerated (or frozen, uncooked, for up to a month). The salsa verde, tortilla Espanola, and romesco sauce can all be made a day in advance. Place cherry tomatoes on a bed of ice alongside bowls of extra-virgin olive oil and smoked sea salt (such as Maldon), for dipping.
  • What to Buy
    In addition to the cherry tomatoes, purchase sliced cured meats such as bresaola, soppressata, and prosciutto for a more substantial spread. Offer them alongside good cheeses and toasted baguette slices. For dessert, pick up some cookies and gelato.
  • What to Make
    Just a couple of homemade hors d'oeuvres make a get-together feel special. The meatballs can be formed a day ahead and refrigerated (or frozen, uncooked, for up to a month). The salsa verde, tortilla Espanola, and romesco sauce can all be made a day in advance. Place cherry tomatoes on a bed of ice alongside bowls of extra-virgin olive oil and smoked sea salt (such as Maldon), for dipping.
  • What to Buy
    In addition to the cherry tomatoes, purchase sliced cured meats such as bresaola, soppressata, and prosciutto for a more substantial spread. Offer them alongside good cheeses and toasted baguette slices. For dessert, pick up some cookies and gelato.

Best Dressed

A tortilla Espanola is similar to a potato omelet; the vibrant romesco sauce is a Spanish classic made from peppers and almonds. The meatballs get dolloped with a lemony, herby salsa. (Both dishes are delicious even without the sauces.)

The Drinks

Along with wine, beer, and soft drinks, offer a cocktail. Why not make one your signature drink of summer? Our grapefruit fizz is tangy and refreshing. Our punch is fragrant with berries. And a pastis bar -- plus a bottle of the French aperitif and sparkling lemonade and garnishes -- is sure to get guests chatting as they customize their own drinks.

Mix It Up

Dusk is a great time for an outdoor cocktail party on a rooftop or in a backyard: Temperatures are lower, and the sun isn't beating down on your food and guests. Fortunately, a cold drink hits the spot any time of day -- or night.

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