When thinking of mid-century modern cocktail hour, images of opulent drink ware, fine clothing and luxurious sofas and club chairs come to mind. Clinking glasses, soft laughter and mild melodies fill the air. Cocktail Hour is a relaxed time filled with easy-going conversation and just enough liquor. This is not a time for a wild, raging party. The goal should be a laid-back atmosphere with just enough to snack on and drink.
To recreate those glamorous times, you’ll need a few things.
The Cocktail Service Set
To get the theme right you might want to reference the design style of the era. A great way to accomplish this is by finding the right cocktail service drink ware set. Cocktail Hour is all about the cocktail, after all. Antique stores are a great place to stop by, as are online stores eBay and Etsy. Be sure to look for a nice ice bucket while you’re on the prowl, if you don’t have one already. Other essentials are tongs for the ice, mixing sticks and a decent strainer, which can be picked up at any specialty liquor store – BevMo for instance.
Take it a step further and pick up a bar cart to display your cocktail ware and liquor. If you feel like a splurge and you’ve got the room, pick up a freestanding retro bar. It’ll sure “wow” your guests!
However you set out your liquor, be sure to serve your guests a beverage when they arrive and then invite them to refresh their drinks, as they like. More on what to serve below.
The Right Atmosphere
Make sure you have plenty of sitting space for your company as well as places for them to put down their drink in between sips. If you play music, keep it low so that no one feels the need to raise his or her voice during conversation. Mellow piano or some light jazz would keep things appropriately relaxed.
For attire, let your guests know of the theme in advance so they can dress to the occasion. Men would dress in suits and women in fine dresses. However, your male guests could simply put on a blazer and loafers and call it a day. A tie, or better yet a bow tie, would be appropriate as well. Women could wear a dress or pencil skirt and blouse to look the part. Fancy hair-dos are always welcome.
Food and Beverage
As for drinks, consider going classic with a Dirty Martini. Shake ice with 6 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of olive brine and a dash of vermouth, then pour and drop in 2 olives. Take it a step further with Martha Stewart’s extra dirty martini recipe. Another iconic drink to serve is the Gimlet, Betty Draper’s go-to. Shake ice with 2 ounces gin, ¾ ounce fresh lime juice and ¾ ounce simple syrup, then pour and garnish with a lime wedge or cucumber slice. Serve up the Atomic Cocktail for an authentic 1950s drink that sounds just as retro as it truly is. Mix ice with 1 ½ ounces vodka, 1 ½ ounces brandy and 1 teaspoon sherry, then strain out ice and pour 1 ½ to 2 ounces chilled brut champagne.
Keep it simple with the array of food you provide. Salted mixed nuts, olives and crackers in a bowls throughout the gathering area should do the trick. The point is to add some chewing to all the sipping, and also to keep your guests from drinking on an empty stomach. If you do want to make it a more sophisticated affair, consider creating a dip for crackers, such as this aptly themed Dirty Martini Cheese Spread. A shrimp cocktail would also be well suited to the occasion.
For cocktail party ideas, check out our article on how to throw an MCM-themed New Years party, which has tips you can apply to almost any mid-century theme gathering. Oh, and putting on some Mad Men couldn’t hurt.
Looking to host your own mid-century modern cocktail hour but don’t have the digs to host your get-together? We’ll help you find your party-ready MCM home – contact us today!