April 5, 2016

If you’re organising a cocktail party for formality, or just for fun, we’ve got you covered.

From the basics of cocktail recipes, to the nitty gritty of themes, invitations and food ideas, we spoke with Shake & Stir Events to help you become more organised at hosting the best party possible.

The truth of mixology is that it’s time-consuming and if you’re new to the hospitality world, you’ll need a little guidance about hosting your first party.

What are 5 cocktail recipes you recommend for someone hosting a party?

While we at Shake & Stir like to offer personalised drinks and use the latest molecular mixology techniques for our events, we do understand that not everyone has the time and/or the budget to get specifically designed cocktails for a small party.

In all fairness, sometimes great classics do the trick just as much.

If I were to pick 5 of these I would recommend the following cocktails which will offer your guests a great selection.

Classic Gin Martini

Organising A Cocktail Party Hassle-Free


  • 50ml Tanqueray Gin
  • 10ml Dolin Dry Vermouth


  • Stir in a mixing glass until perfect temperature and dilution is reached
  • Fine strain in a Martini glass
  • Garnish with an olive or a lemon twist

Old Fashioned

Organising A Cocktail Party Hassle-Free


  • 50ml Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • 10ml sugar syrup
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel


  • Add ingredients to a mixing glass, stir until perfect dilution is reached
  • Strain in an old fashioned glass over a large cube of ice
  • Garnish with another orange peel and a maraschino cherry


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  • 40ml Pampero rum
  • 3-4 lime wedges
  • 12.5ml sugar syrup
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • Soda to top up


  • Muddle limes with sugar syrup in a highball glass then add mint leaves and gently muddle them too
  • Add rum, half fill glass with crushed ice, stir with a bar spoon
  • Fill the glass with crushed ice and top up with soda
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and a mint sprig

Aperol Spritz

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  • 50ml Aperol
  • 75ml Prosecco
  • 25ml Soda


  • Build and stir in a large wine glass
  • Garnish with an orange slice

Lychee Martini

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  • 30ml Stolichnaya Vodka
  • 15ml Lychee Liqueur
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 15ml sugar syrup
  • 50ml lychee juice


  • Shake and fine strain in a martini glass
  • Garnish with an edible flower

What foods/snacks would you suggest with each of these cocktails?

We generally believe that people’s taste are so different that it is nearly impossible to match one certain food to one certain cocktail.

You can always say that aperitifs like a Martini or Negroni are better to have before meals while longer more refreshing cocktails like a Tom Collins or a Mojito could be great alongside dishes.

These drinks are lighter in alcohol and flavour, hence letting the food come through and not overpowering it.

In general, we can say that sweeter drinks like an Old Fashioned or an Espresso Martini are more appealing as an after-dinner treat.

All in all, the best way is to have the same sort of selection with the food as with the drinks so everyone can find something they like and pair it to their drink of choice.

It is always good to have something for those with allergies. So make sure there is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free etc. options so no-one feels left out.

How could people transform their living room into a party room?

This is a really fitting question for us since we come across this task so often.  It all depends on how much of a change they are looking for.

It is always advisable to move the furniture to the side of the room, and to make sure there are enough seats for the guests. I always prefer to leave some empty space in the middle of the room in case people feel like dancing later on.

You can always hire in some sound and lighting equipment which can lift your party to the next level.

What are some themes you suggest for a private party?

Organising A Cocktail Party Hassle-Free

This is something that really depends on the host and the people invited to the party.

There are certain themes that never go out of fashion – like 1920’s themes.

Some themes we have covered which our guests were very excited about are: super hero party, ancient Greece, mad men party, around the world party, future theme party and the 80’s.

These were very successful and fun parties that we had pleasure to part of with.

What is a simple checklist people can follow when organising an event?

– Bar (existing surface, table, mobile bar)
– Glassware (types and quantities accordingly)
– Stock (spirits, wines, beers etc.)
– Garnishes (fruits, herbs etc.)
– Ice (cubed and crushed if needed)
– Bar equipment (cocktail kits, ice buckets, napkins, straws etc.)
– Chilling facilities (space in fridge/freezer, extra buckets if necessary)
– Sound tech
– Lightings
– Flowers
– Any additional props needed if there is a theme
– Planned timings (guest arrival, staff on site, bar closing etc.)

Do you have any tips for organising a party on a budget?

Organising A Cocktail Party Hassle-Free

Every event has a different budget and one of the key things is to be able to identify how ‘far’ a certain client is able to go in terms of ‘extras’.

The first I always suggest is to go with a good Prosecco instead of a cheap Champagne.

People may like the idea of having Champagne, but the quality is not on their side if you choose a cheaper alternative. Prosecco can save you money and has a better quality taste.

Wine is also something that can save you a fortune if you have a little knowledge.

Everyone loves French wines, but to get the same quality, you would need to pay quite a few extra pounds as opposed to a similar Italian wine.

As far as spirits are concerned, I like to use premium products which are low enough in prices but you still don’t have to compromise in taste and quality (like the brands mentioned earlier).

Always try to see what is available in your household before hiring in technicians for light and sounds. This is also a major money factor where with a little creativity you can save lots of extra pounds.

In general, my experience says that it is a lot easier to buy something or hire someone for a job. But if you are willing to make some sacrifices and spend some time and use your creativity you can achieve something really similar for a lot less.

Just be sensible with your money and plan in advance. The key component to a party is people, not things!