The beauty of cocktail party food is that it can be a fun, eclectic selection of items. Since nobody will be eating lots of any one item, you can toss in a few experiments and still have enough safe items so that no one will go home hungry. Here are some basic guidelines for planning your cocktail party menu:
- Aim for variety in your menu including seafood, meat selections, finger food, canapes, hot and cold dishes.
- Although sweets are not typically considered cocktail party food, I like to offer one or two sweet nibbles toward the end of the party. In addition to satisfying any lurking sweet teeth, it helps to let guests know that the party will be wrapping up soon.
- When estimating food quantities, plan on serving approximately 6 bites per person, per hour for a two hour party, when no dinner will be served.
- For hors d'oeuvres that are not pieces, such as cheese and dips, one ounce is equivalent to one bite.
- It is always better to overestimate than underestimate the amount of food you serve.
Menu for a Cocktail Party
If pressed for time, you could leave off one or two of these choices. But since many can be made in advance, why would you want to?
Paige's Hot Peppered Candy Walnuts- This recipe is a highly recommended accompaniment to martinis.
Tapenade Cracker Bites- This very easy nibble uses all prepared foods.
Four Cheese Pate Recipe- This recipe is like a dressed up cheese ball. It's easy because no baking or cooking is required.
Salmon Tarts- Another very easy bite that uses only three ingredients.
Szechwan Cold Garlic Shrimp- This one will take a bit of work, but since a lot of the recipe can be prepared in advance, it's worth it.
Beef Satay- These little sticks of beef are accompanied by a peanut dipping sauce.
Bruschetta- An elegant and popular hors d'oeuvres.
Forgotten Cookies- A friend gave me this recipe years ago. I love how simple and foolproof it is.
Mocha Shortbread- The texture of shortbread almost makes it fall into the savory category fitting for a cocktail party.