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fireside cocktails

I always love the idea of hosting a gathering at my place, but then reality kicks in. I’m that girl who sometimes enjoys the planning and the preparation more than anything. For example, I love to spend a long time getting my eye makeup just right and accessorizing my outfit. I love to imagine what food and drinks I will serve as the perfect, unflappable hostess. The truth is, planning a party can be overwhelming and a lot of work. While my guests are still chatting late into the night I am all ready to jump in bed, wishing the mess would just disappear when I wake up in the morning.

Austin doesn’t get cold very often, but when it does (hey – don’t judge, it’s all relative) there’s nothing cozier than throwing a few logs in the fireplace and watching the flames crackle while the warm glow lulls you to sleep. I had an idea. How much fun would it to be to host a little cocktail party by the fire?! I had recently bought The Cocktail by Jane Rocca, I have a beautiful vintage buffet that I keep all my glassware in, I have a fireplace, and I have a cocktail shaker that I’ve been meaning to use for a year. There was no way I couldn’t host my little get-together.

So I made myself do it, but with a solid plan in mind, and it went off without a hitch (nearly)! Here are some tips to make throwing your next soirée as easy as pie. The cocktail recipes I chose are at the end of the post.

Keep it simple

Pick one thing that your party will center around. For me, I knew I wanted to make a couple of different cocktails. Other than the drinks, I made sure that all of the food and snacks would be very low maintenance. Simple “unwrap & eat” foods such as cheese & bread, nuts, and olives are perfect.

Decide how many guests to invite

What kind of party do you want to have? Small and intimate? Crowded and crazy? Enough room to dance? And how big is your apartment? Thinking about these kinds of things will help you decide how many people to invite. Send out the invitation far enough in advance and find some way to collect RSVPs (Facebook, Google+, Evite) so you have an idea of how many people are actually coming.

Shop ahead of time

For once I did my shopping a few days in advance of the party and I feel like this made a huge difference for me stress-wise. Over the weekend I leisurely picked up everything I needed and then didn’t have to think about it for a few days.

Taste test

There’s nothing worse than knowing people are about to arrive and that you’ve completely underestimated how hard it will be to make something. Whether it’s food or drinks, try making it beforehand and test it to make sure it tastes good. This way when the big day comes, you’ll know exactly what to expect. Invite a friend or your roommate over to help you – no one can turn down a free taste test!

Set up early

The night before the party my roommate, a friend, and I rearranged the furniture a little bit so there was a nice open area in front of the fire, but still places to sit and put your drink. We took out all the platters, bowls, etc. that we were going to use and put them on the table where the food would go. This way when we got home from work it was easy to just take the food out of the fridge and set it right up.


Since I did most of the legwork ahead of time I was able to just focus on making the cocktails and then have fun spending time with my guests.

I was having such a good time that I completely forgot about taking pictures of anything, but here is a snapshot of my taste test from the night before.

yemen fizz cocktail

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pear ginger fizz champagne cocktail

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yemen fizz grape champagne cocktail

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All pictures and graphics by Dose of Dash except for the picture of the fireplace.