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Cocktail Companions

Martha Stewart Living, December 2007

Taleggio Flatbread
Braised Chorizo
Sparkling Rose with Bay Leaf Syrup
Baked Artichoke Dip with Winter Crudites
Lemon-Gin Martini
Shrimp Salad Canapes with Endive
Lillet-Vodka Cocktails

Behind every great cocktail party is some savvy planning -- and not just the type that ensures there are plenty of chairs and canapes. If the hosts expect to spend time with their guests, the food must be more than just brilliant; the hors d'oeuvres also need to be made in advance and able to be served with ease, rather than requiring last-minute fuss. And ideally, the accompanying cocktails would not only complement the recipes, but be similarly simple to pull together.

Rather than serve the standard assortment of options, consider offering a streamlined selection of holiday hors d'oeuvres, each matched with a compatible cocktail. This minimizes effort in the days and hours leading up to the event, precludes the need for a degree in mixology, and avoids those awkward moments of indecision that often follow the question "What would you like to drink?"

Most important, this approach ensures that each food and drink pairing is as inspired as you had intended. The following recipes were carefully conceived to create harmony around nuances of flavor, which means one less thing for you to plan. And because you won't be playing bartender, you can spend the evening juggling conversations, not liquor bottles.

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