The perfect retro cocktail party

The perfect platter for your event, image from Refined Vintage

Vintage Kromex Serving dish, available on ArtFire

At-home entertaining was the toast of the town in the 1950s and it’s easy to see why: finger foods, great friends, and yummy drinks – what a combination! Home is the original venue for making social connections and creating lasting memories.

Our newest expert, Bridget at Refined Vintage, is an entertaining maven and she knows how to prepare your home for its social debut. We’re thrilled she’s joining us today to talk through everything you need for hosting the perfect retro cocktail party.

meet our expert

Bridget with Refined Vintage

Refined Vintage
Michigan, USA

I’ve always loved old things, even when I was little. I still remember my first garage sale find: a sweet ceramic statue, which ended up being a Florence Original. Ever since, I’ve always been on the look-out for the next exciting find – it’s just my way of life.

Follow Refined Vintage on Facebook and check out Bridget’s new Etsy shop.

Retro cocktail party essentials

Bar set-up

Establishing your party bar set-up is the first step for the host/hostess-in-the-know. The bar lends the mood for the whole event so you’ll want to carefully consider styling. Bridget recommends finding inspiration on Pinterest and her boards have some great ideas to get you started. To take your arrangement to the next level: play with heights. Varying textures, heights, and colors will draw your guests right to this focal point – which is exactly what you want!

Image from Refined Vintage

Beautiful ice bucket, available on Bridget’s Etsy shop

Dishes and accessories you need

Bridget suggests that your first order of business should be to acquire a retro ice bucket and tongs. Ice is the unsung hero of any party and you want to give it some style, rather than making it look like an afterthought. Once you’ve got your ice situation in hand, get a unique cocktail shaker, platters, and garnish trays. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box – use candy dishes as fun vessels for condiments and appetizers. Top it all off with vintage dishes and glassware to add those final touches that your guests will be sure to notice.

Retro cocktail party recipes

In general, you’ll want to focus your energies on simple, easy-to-prepare finger foods. This approach allows you to enjoy your own party and actually get out there and mingle! Here are Bridget’s top picks for your evening’s festivities:

Meat balls with bourbon grape jelly
A modern twist on a beloved classic. Find the full recipe here.

Image from Jon Sullivan

Shrimp cocktail – yum!

Stuffed celery with cream cheese, sprinkled with Paprika
So simple and surprisingly tasty – just like grandma used to make!

Stuffed celery with spreadable Win Schulers Bar Cheese
The green goodness is at it again. Can’t find this brand of bar cheese at your local store? No worries – substitute with any soft, spreadable cheese of your choice.

Shrimp cocktail
A classic that always is a crowd-pleaser

Image from Refined Vintage

Gold bar ware highball glasses, available on ArtFirer

Cocktail sausage links, wrapped with bacon and broiled
If you want to dial down the savory flavors a bit, wrap them in crescent rolls and bake away until golden brown.

Cheese ball and crackers
Cheese plate. Enough said!

Lipton French Onion Dip with potato chips
Potato chips are the standard choice, but if you want a healthier option prepare some fresh veggies for dipping.

Deviled eggs
These are not only delightful, but you can find lots of fun vintage, deviled egg trays to add a quirky appeal to your buffet table.

Classic cocktails

Image from the delicious life

Gimlet cocktail

Vodka Gimlet
1 1/2 oz vodka
3/4 oz sweetened lime juice* ( Like Rose’s)
3-4 lime slices

Pour vodka and lime juice into a cocktail shaker. Shake, and strain into a martini glass. Add three or four slices of lime.

*You could also mix the lime juice with a simple syrup to taste or add Stevia (or a sweetener of your choice) – just be sure to dissolve completely before mixing the drink. To make a classic Gimlet, use gin.

Image from Refined Vintage

Condiment server, available on Bridget’s Etsy shop

1 1/2 oz cognac
3/4 oz triple sec
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1 orange slice

Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and squeeze lemon into the mixture. Shake and strain into a glass rimmed with sugar. Garnish with the orange slice.

Image from Refined Vintage

Mid-century cocktail glasses, available on ArtFire

Kir Royale
4-6 ounces champagne
.25 ounces Chambord
Lemon twist

Add the champagne to a champagne glass and top with Chambord. Garnish with a raspberry and a lemon twist. Learn three ways to make a lemon twist here.

What should be on your play list

Bridget recommends sticking with the classics: Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin will help you set the mood perfectly!

Cause A Frockus would like to thank the amazing Bridget at Refined Vintage and the people who post their images without restriction.

For our readers: What are your go-to cocktail party recipes, tunes, and decoration ideas?

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