Retro Cocktail Party Snacks

Schtick It Up With Cheese Schmear

Stewart Mason
3 min read
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If you’re anything like me, December was the only time year when your parents came anywhere close to throwing what could be termed a cocktail party. Because it was the suburbs, my mom’s friends mostly sat around the kitchen table nibbling directly from the serving trays and trading neighborhood stories. Because it was Texas, my dad’s friends mostly stood on the porch, drank beers from the iced-down washtub in the garage and talked about cars and poon-tang. (I kinda miss Texas.) But the food was always good, nobody got into a flaming car wreck going home, and as far as I know, no divorce proceedings were ever initiated, so there you go.

Of course, I’m one to talk. My wife and I have never given a cocktail party, largely because that would involve cleaning up the house, and what with renting a couple dumpsters and a backhoe and blocking out a two-week block of time, we’d just be too knackered at the end to entertain. The closest we’ve come is the standard “having people over for drinks,” which is a couple of steps below the cocktail party in terms of effort, particularly since given the relative sophistication level of my friends, the snacks most often consist of a couple bags of Doritos and a dish of almonds.

But that’s the first step in successful party planning, for a holiday party or whenever: Throw the party you and your friends would like to attend, not the one you think you should throw. We’re not a Wodehouseian crowd, true, but nor are we overgrown frat boys—our lot is primarily folks from the local music and indie-movie scenes and my wife’s old MIT friends—and the combination of my wife’s obsession with all things Eastern European and my southern heritage suggests certain possibilities for party foods. Think about these things as you’re planning the party (Who’s coming? What do these people have in common? What sorts of foods do my friends expect me to provide? What recipes do I want to show off to them?) and your menu is going to plan itself. What follows is a few suggestions based on the sort of things we’d serve if we ever get around to having a New Year’s Eve party. If what you really want is a vat of chile con queso the size of a baby’s bathtub, a meat and cheese platter from the supermarket deli and six bags of Chips Ahoy, which is also a menu I could get behind, then have that instead.

Liquor is a whole separate issue, and one with which I’m not much help, since I drink like a girl scout. You’ve probably figured out what you like to drink by now anyway. One suggestion: Buy a case or two of half-liter bottles of spring water to mix in with the booze. Even if you’re drinking hooch (you do have a designated driver, I trust), take a minute to chug some water in between: You’re much less likely to greet 2005 with a hangover if you stay hydrated.

Eating In

Eating In

Eating In

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