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Cocktail Party - Can I call it something else?

Is the term 'cocktail party' still in vogue? Is there another name I could use for this type of gathering, since it isn't really about the cocktails?

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  1. Well what kind of party are you planning?

    1. Maybe Tapas? If your planning a bunch of appetizer/tapa type food?

      1. Cocktails are back and are very much in vogue. Go ahead and call it a cocktail party and have fun.

        3 Replies
        1. re: KTinNYC

          Just as long as what you're serving is actually a cocktail and not some crazy concoction that doesn't involve bitters (e.g. your typical "appletini", "raspberry mojito" and other ridiculousness)

          1. re: jgg13

            The notion that a cocktail requires bitters went out before WWII. A martini is considered by even the staunchest purists to be a cocktail, and most if not all modern recipes omit bitters from martinis.

            Now sticking the noble name of a martini on some froofy fruity thing served in a cocktail glass is a whole 'nother matter. Call it what you will--cocktail or otherwise--but don't call it a martini.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Yet bitters *are* involved in various martini recipes. Plus, modern recipes use an absurdly low amount of vermouth (not to mention the side effect that most bartenders make any vermouth-using drink too light on the vermouth now). While I don't know which type of "cocktail" KTinNYC is talking about, classic cocktail recipes are also making a definite comeback.

              I'm with you on the second paragraph.

              Call it a "mixed drink party" if that's the sort of thing you're doing.

        2. If it's mainly about the food and not the alcohol, why not something to describe the type of food?

          1. Let's go in the way-back machine and call it "refreshments"!!! I lurve that word....

            1 Reply
            1. in my world it is ALWAYS about the cocktails,In my wifes it a dinner party or a noshing party.

              1. Oh, I would absolutely call it a cocktail party, but make sure you mention that you will be serving food. As an alternative, you can also invite people over for "Appetizers or Snacks" and "Adult Beverages" if you want to keep it casual.

                1 Reply
                1. re: RGC1982

                  Food has always been served at cocktail parties. I can't imagine showing up and only being offered booze -- recipe for disaster!

                2. I just thought that maybe there was a new name I could give the party. If cocktails are back in vogue, then I guess that is the best description. However, I do like the tapas idea. I hadn't thought of that. That puts more emphasis on the food. I want to have, what I call, hearty hors d'oeuvres and a dessert table.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sarah galvin

                    to me, "cocktail party" is code for you don't have to sit down at the table for hours and potentially get stuck sitting next to someone who is not your favorite conversationalist. It means you stand up and mingle w/ drinks and finger food. It doesn't say to me "martini time". Of course, that's just me, and I may be a little weird.

                  2. My British friends call them "Drinks Parties". Which makes it entirely about the cocktails, doesn't it? So I guess that doesn't help.

                    1. if it's early evening, you can go all out pretentious and call it a cinq a sept- this has the added bonus of letting people know they are dropping by for a drink or two and not necessarily the whole night (if that's what you want to convey!)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: nummanumma

                        Gotta agree with the "cinq a sept"...Except none of our friends ever leave after 2 hours! (But then, we don't expect them to either....)
                        You could also invite people over for "Restoratives"....(That's code in our world for "come for a drink")

                        1. "small plates with drinks"

                          1. You can certainly call it anything you want. But not only is the term "cocktail party" still in vogue, it's more informative than most alternatives.

                            When you receive an invitation to a cocktail party you can rest assured that no meal will be served, but that finger food will be available; that dress will probably be somewhere between business casual and informal evening wear; that the event will last a couple of hours, rather than the entire evening; and that people will be on their feet, mingling and making small talk, instead of sitting at tables having deeper conversations. If this describes the event you're hosting, then it's a cocktail party.

                            And it isn't really about the cocktails; cocktails became popular at about the same time as less formal entertaining at home, so the name of the party took the name of the popular drink at the time. Although cocktails are usually served at cocktail parties, they're considered by some to be dispensable: at some "cocktail parties" only wine is served. I wouldn't go that far, but it's a good illustration of how the type of event has outgrown its name.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Yes - I agree with you completely. I have a fun little book someone gave me a about throwing a cocktail party, and your 2nd paragraph is the pretty much the description there.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Well, alanbarnes, you hit the nail on the head! And thanks for all the great ideas. I also like the cinq a sept but this my party will allow people to come later than 7, so that won't work. Cocktail Party it is. I will make a note on the invitation that there will be lots of yummy food, so don't eat before you come!

                                My plan was to have wine but I guess I should also offer a signature cocktail, right?

                                1. re: sarah galvin

                                  I think the idea of a 'signature cocktail' is a fun one. I'm a fan of pisco sours these days.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      Love the idea of the "signature cocktail'. I've been making a lot of Perfect Manhattans lately.

                                    2. re: sarah galvin

                                      I like the "signature cocktail" idea, too...now i'm wanting to throw one of these parties!

                                      1. re: iluvtennis

                                        Catchy, isn't it! I haven't done this in a long time. Now I wonder which cocktail. It will be November so I don't want anything fruity. But I guess a bellini might be ok. I canned some fresh peach puree. Maybe champagne cocktail - the one with a lump of sugar, brandy or something. I think I like the champagne cocktail - elegant and festive and easy to prep.

                                  1. In my event planner days, I often described some an event as drinks and light refreshments or drinks and mingling.

                                    And I think it is good to say a start and end time, not everyone will leave on time, but it does indicate that you do not intend to continue to feed people until midnight.

                                    I also agree that cocktails does mean something more than wine and cheese. It says to me that some mixed drinks -- martinis (vermouth and gin or v+v only), cosmopolitans or the like will be served, along with finger foods.

                                    1. You could make up any name for your party -- I prefer those that are funny, and have a little topspin. A good invitation increases attendance and primes the spirit for the spirits.

                                      You could call a Happy Hour a Clocktail Party.You could host a Socktail party, saying everyone must wear an unusual pair of socks. Or play classical music and call it a Bach-tail Party. OK, those aren't the best examples, but you get the idea.

                                      I particularly like making up names that are topical, something like the Dow falling 450 points today or hurricanes or the election and being in need of a cocktail.

                                      Even if it's an evite, I try to choose from a collection of wacky food and drinking photos that I've collected over the years. Unless the event has a serious tone, that's different.

                                      1. Call it a cocktail party unless all your guests are bartenders or classic crooners.

                                        1. Soiree: A party or reception held in the evening
                                          Get-Together: A social gathering
                                          Fiesta: It's more about the food