Stacy's Libations
Stacey Nagy

Stacey Nagy

Stace's Libations

Stace’s Libations – How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party

Stace’s Libations – How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party

I love throwing parties. My husband and I have hosted dozens of parties over the years. In our 20’s, we had a spacious downtown apartment which was walking distance to all sorts of nightlife. We’d throw a pre-gaming bash and head out to hit the dance floor at our favorite pub. Once we moved out to a house in the suburbs, we kept hosting our annual Halloween party but also were able to host barbecues, birthday parties, Christmas sweater parties, etc. Then the pandemic hit and “gatherings” were no longer an option. It was around the same time we had started renovating our house which made hosting impossible as well. So we ended up taking an unplanned hiatus from hosting for about a year and a half. We truly missed it. So when we were finally able to host parties again, we made sure they were super special and fun.
 
Hosting a regular party is one thing. Hosting a badass cocktail party is a whole other ball game. If you want to go all out for your guests, you have to do some planning. I just recently hosted a Galentine’s Day cocktail party solo for about a dozen ladies, so I’m full of helpful tips! 
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
Step 1: Prepare Your Guest List
 
This is always where I start when I’m planning a party. Specifically when I host a cocktail party, I normally provide everything for my guests. I take care of the food and all of the drinks. This means I need to know how many people I plan on serving and if I’m able to handle the volume of bartending involved. You don’t necessarily have to bartend all night, which I will get into later, but if you’re going to do it this way, you need to know how much money you want to spend and this totally hinges on how many people you invite.
You also need to curate a vibe. To me, this means inviting people who are fun, respectful, and appreciative of the effort involved. This is your show. Only invite those who you know will add to the experience instead of taking away from it. I am so blessed with my group of friends that this is usually the easiest part of the planning!
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
Step 2: Theme and Decor
 
Now for the fun stuff! A good party doesn’t need a theme, but a great party does. A theme adds flair and pizazz and a blueprint for planning. It gives something for all your guests to participate in as well. I always theme my parties and add a dress code suggestion. You need to give folks at least a few weeks heads up to do this. I normally send invites out at least a month before the event.
Galentines was so much fun to decorate for. If you’re going to decorate for the theme, try to use as many of your on-hand items as possible before going out and buying new stuff. If you need some extra items, go thrifting. I love to thrift shop for my decor as much as possible. It’s inexpensive, original and not usually something you’d find on Amazon. For Galentines, I found a full antique set of floral plates and serveware for 15 bucks! I also added fresh flowers in my decor to make it extra girly. 
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
Step 3: Menu
 
Once you have a theme, you can start nailing down a co-ordinated menu. I usually serve about 5-6 different cocktails at my events. Any more than that and I guarantee you’ll be overwhelmed on gathering ingredients, liquor and garnishes. I try to have a different spirit for each drink so I can cater to people’s preferences. Gin and vodka are the most popular with tequila and bourbon right on their heels.. It’s also important to have a couple mocktails on your menu. It makes it inclusive for those who are not drinking but want to participate in the fun. Always use fresh fruit juice when serving cocktails. Invest in a juicer and some jars to store it in. Citrus should be juiced as close to serving time as possible so keep that in mind when planning your event. 
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
Finding recipes is as easy as a google search, or if you’re like me, you’ve been inspired by a cocktail book chock full of them. I found a bunch of lovely pink and purple cocktails to fit my theme. The key thing is to trial your drinks and make sure they’re delicious enough to serve to your guests before committing them to the menu. One of the standouts at my Galentines party was the Royal Sorbet 75. 
 
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
Royal Sorbet 75
 
1 oz Empress 1908 gin
1⁄2 oz rosemary syrup
1⁄2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 scoop lemon sorbet
Prosecco to top
Garnishes: lemon zest and rosemary sprig
Combine gin, syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail mixer. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a coupe glass. Add a nice round scoop of sorbet and top with prosecco. Zest lemon over sorbet and add sprig of rosemary to serve.
 
For food, I stick to appetizers that don’t require the oven during the party. If I’m bartending, there is zero time to be prepping food as well. I like to do a mix of catering and home prepared items. I detest plastic platters of fruit and veggies from the grocery store so I always buy the snacks and make my own spread. This takes a bit more time and preparation, but it looks and tastes so much better. Some of my go to’s are charcuterie spreads with meat, cheese, fruit and dried figs. Veggies and mini naan breads for dipping in homemade hummus and dill dips. For Galentines, I had my bakery items catered so there were cake pops, macaroons, cookies, and chocolates as well. It’s important to note that you can always ask for help with the food to keep your costs down. Make a list of what needs to be brought and have a sign-up list for your guests and voila, catering is done. 
Step 4: Batching and Serving
 
Remember when I said you don’t have to bartend all night? It’s possible with a little typing and a trip to Staples. Making cocktails is not difficult. Everyone is capable with a little guidance. What I like to do is make up a word document with my overall menu and drink recipe cards which I send to print at my local Staples. They laminate them which is important because things get messy and sticky making cocktails. The recipe cards list the ingredients and a how-to which I refer to when bartending. I place them on a little easel near my supplies so I can quickly make drinks. I will usually bartend for the first few hours of a party but if I want to mingle, my guests have everything in front of them to serve themselves if necessary. 
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
 Another way to save time is to batch your cocktails. Depending on how many guests you are serving, you can decide how many to pre-batch. I decided to go with six serving batches for five of my cocktails. If you’re planning on batching, you can also add the batch serving notes on your recipe cards so you know how much of each to shake and serve. You will always need to shake your pre-batches to add the dilution at time of serving and of course, never batch with your toppers (prosecco, soda water) unless you’re making a punch (which is also a great way to save bartending time). I like to have a self-serve punch on my bar cart with other items, like wine and champagne so guests can serve themselves if I’m tied up. 
 
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
Step 5: Something Special
 
Remember when you’d go to a birthday party as a kid and you’d get a goodie bag when you left? That was such an amazing feeling! I like to try and recreate that feeling for my guests by sending them home with a party favor. For Galentines, I decided to give out a bottle of homemade rosé limoncello.
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
Rosé Limoncello (serves 6)
12 organic lemons (4 lemon peels per cup of vodka) 1 bottle (750 ml) 100 proof vodka
1.5 cups rosé (350 ml)
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Using a sharp vegetable or Y peeler, carefully peel the lemons. Avoid peeling off the bitter white pith. Pour the vodka and rosé into a bottle larger than 750 ml. Immerse the lemon peels in the liquid and set aside in a dark place for 2 – 3 weeks.
Next, pour limoncello into a large bowl, straining out the lemon peels. Add sugar and stir periodically for several hours to incorporate it fully. Add water to the mixture and stir well. Now you’re ready to bottle it. For the favors, I used 8 oz or 250 ml bottles and added a nice label. Limoncello is a sweet aperitif or digestif that is best served chilled but can be served in cocktails as well. It’s absolutely delicious!
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
Step 6: The To-Do List
 
The key thing to a successful cocktail party is to organise yourself. As fun as hosting is for me, if I don’t nail down the planning, things can quickly get stressful and overwhelming. I find the best thing for myself is to have a notebook where I make my lists of ideas, menu items, recipes, and shopping lists. Then the week before, I write down tasks that need to be done each day so nothing is left to chance. Your brain will thank you and your guests will love you.
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
Step 7: Enjoy Yourself
 
Nothing will ever be perfect! This is a party and it’s supposed to be fun. Keep an eye on who needs what and do your best. No one wants a stressed out grump for a host, so be in the moment and ask for help if you need it. Keep smiling and enjoy yourself, you deserve it! 
Stace’s Libations - How to Plan a Badass Cocktail Party
 That’s all for this month, I hope you enjoyed this how-to and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to hit me up on IG or send me an email.
Cheers!
Stace
 
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