On my recent weekend visit to my friend Christie, she threw a dinner party. She invited a few of her close friends, whom I have met before, but haven’t spent much time with–what with the two of us living on opposite sides of the state since we finished grad school sometime back in the last century.
Both science and art go into a successful dinner party. The basic formula for success is simple: plan well, shop carefully, and cook a meal that is delicious but doesn’t require a lot of last minute attention.
The art of entertaining is less easily defined, but I know it when I see it, as they say. I’m convinced that the most important requirement for a good party is a relaxed hostess. One who is not exhausted from frantically vacuuming or folding napkins, who can giggle instead of crying when a recipe takes an unexpected detour, who has the kitchen under control and is ready to socialize. In short, a hostess who is enjoying herself.
Then there is that mysterious magic that happens sometimes, when you have invited just the right tableful of people, who talk and argue and laugh and clink glasses until hours have gone by without anyone noticing.
Well, I am here to tell you that Christie nailed it on all counts. THAT was a party.
I also like to think that my job of bartender had something to do with it. Because well-lubricated guests are happy guests, right?
Christie wanted champagne, and I have a deep fondness for champagne cocktails–especially the frou-frou kind, with too many sweet (and usually pink) ingredients, that start you off giggling, then kick you in the head.
She gave me free rein, and I gave the matter of champagne cocktail recipes some serious thought. I decided to forgo the flower flavors and the pink, since they are not always so popular in co-ed settings. And I also decided to avoid a few of those most tricksy and hangover-inducing favorites: absinthe and cherry brandy.
I settled on the Midnight Kiss, a simple cocktail made of vodka, champagne, and Blue Curacao, served in a sugar-rimmed glass. The Curacao is flavored with bitter orange, which gives that perfect edge to the champagne. And what could be more festive than a sugar-rimmed champagne flute full of electric blue hooch?
After the delicious little hot asparagus appetizers, and after the rich lasagna, tortellini, garlic bread, salad, and cheese cake, after the dishes been cleared and the conversation started to get louder, the drinking of Midnight Kisses continued around the dinner table until finally, well after midnight, Christie saw the last of her guests into the car with their designated driver. Good-byes and last jokes were shouted. She tucked stray waving limbs in, like a patient mama octopus putting her children to bed, and finally kissed the top of a head poking through an open window and stepped back with a laugh and a sigh.
Now that was a PARTY.
Midnight Kiss Cocktail
- ¾ oz vodka
- 5-6 oz champagne
- ¼ oz Blue Curacao liqueur
Pour the vodka into a sugar-rimmed champagne flute and fill the rest of the glass with champagne. Top with the Curacao, and serve.