Today’s tasty trends in cocktail parties and private events span from free range to farmed, all having one thing in common: comfort food that delights the palate while keeping the guests wanting more. Hosts at parties nowadays are looking for more creative, earthy foods that celebrate the occasion while delighting both the eye and the taste buds. In Washington, D.C. the trends really go in two directions: greener and earthier to more succulent and adventurous.
Regardless of which direction a host decides to go, everything is incorporated into the theme and the celebration a la The Food Network. Deconstructed salads abound for the naturist; tapas and international fair for the spirited. Just a few years ago, the trends were cleaner lines, less passed hors d’oeuvres with a larger meal and a smaller dessert. Nowadays, people want more hand-passed tastiness with a smaller meal and desserts with more variety in smaller, bite-sized portions. And what goes best with this yummy fare: the perfect drink.
Cocktail bars abound with custom drinks befitting the event and the party theme; from hand-crafted martinis to melon balls, drinks abound. Have you thought about fruit-infused ice cubes for your drinks? Your event planner has. They are definitely “in”. Did you know that there are companies that strictly cater cocktails and drinks? The trends in mixology are changing so quickly and have become so specialized that a high-end bartender may not be enough. Creating and serving a signature drink at your event should be reflective of the host’s style and flair, as well as a celebration of the event.
So you have decided on your toast; what about the food? When talking about food there are two words that keep coming to mind: happy foodie. Today’s party foods are rustic, like a macaroni and cheese or mashed potato bar. Don’t think for a minute that there aren’t sophisticated and trendier versions of each. Lobster can be added to your Mac & Cheese – Caviar can be added to your Mashed Potatoes. Hand- rolled Sushi Bars have become a staple. Ethnic food in general is on the rise, while the old standbys will never go away.
Unique in taste and/or presentation hand passed hors d’oeuvres have become extremely popular during Cocktail Hour. This trend has continued once inside the Reception. Gone are the old standbys of steak, potato and green beans on a dinner plate. These oldies but goodies have been replaced with multiple smaller plates and a more provocative international flair.
Your guests trip around the food globe is only complete when dessert is served. Trendy hosts are serving a menagerie of desserts in smaller bites, so guests can cleanse their palates, while finishing their meal with a bit of elegance. Traditionally, other than weddings, people do not eat large desserts. When you do hand-passed smaller desserts, guests get more excited about them. If food is the way to a man’s heart, then chocolate is certainly the way to a guest’s. Sophisticated events have everything from chocolate bars and chocolate tastings to tiny pastries complimenting the entire event’s food story. Think of your event as a book, needing a beginning, a middle, and an end. All three parts of your food service are important; but leaving your guests with a lasting tidbit of dessert and a fruity toast is always an excellent apertif, regardless of your theme.