(Fredo bartending at a recent cocktail party)
Once upon a time in America people used to entertain guests in their homes and the cocktail party was the Rolls Royce of a social call. In the bustling suburbs, bars were set up on patios and theme parties like Tiki Night were commonplace. In the cities, Home Bars were a dime a dozen and ranged from a hidden away liquor cabinet with service utensils to a full-on bar built into someone’s basement. One could escape the ills of every day life and visit with friends in an intimate and sophisticated environment. The local cocktail lounge provided that outlet for many, but the cocktail party brought socializing to the safe confines of the living room.
A cocktail party’s success began with the hosts. The Host and Hostess made sure their guests were comfortable by setting the mood, providing hors d’oeuvres, and keeping them well-imbibed. People dressed up for the occasion. Generally, one put on their best duds to attend a cocktail party – women in sleek cocktail dresses, men in jacket and tie. This didn’t just happen on Park Avenue, getting dressed up when visiting another’s home used to be the norm! The gentlemen drank Rob Roys, Side Cars, Old Fashions, and Martinis – they knew how to make them from memory. Better yet, so did their wives and dates. My maternal grandmother continued to bring a pitcher of her famous Manhattans to family parties well into her eighties. I credit her for my own love of the classic cocktail and inspiration to keep the tradition going ...
(Read the rest of Fredo's article at THE CAD)