If you know anything about me you know I am the queen of Cocktail Party food. Not that we throw a lot of cocktail parties (a condition I plan to remedy thanks to the book MixShakeStir and St Germain Elderflower Liqueur) but we do have a lot of parties...and I firmly believe there are three cardinal rules for cocktail parties:
RULE 1. Finger food. If you have to cut it, plate it, wrestle with it, or might end up wearing it, forget it.
RULE 2. Libations. With and without alcohol, for your friends who go to meetings and your friends who go to grammar school. Just because they don't drink doesn't mean they can't pretend to be grown-up. Just like the rest of us. Shhh. Don't tell.
RULE 3. Music. I first learned about this from the Barefoot Contessa - she introduced me to Pink Martini. I learned more from Laura Cunningham - when she opens her restaurant pay attention. Make a reservation. Make several. She brought ballet to the waiters at the French Laundry. She brought Jobim to me.
So I opened the new book, Entertain Like A Gentleman by David Harap, and it fell open to the chapter on Cocktail Party Finger Food. He got me before I read a word.
He has recipe for a cocktail called Death in the Afternoon. Even if you're not a Hemingway fan this is intriguing...
Next, the book opened to the shopping list section in the back. Brilliant! How many times have you forgottent he hazelnuts for the Christmas Truffle Tart because you forgot to write them down? Me too.
If you don't entertain a lot this is a great starter book, and the recipes (well some of them) are quite sophisticated. The Duck Prosciutto, for instance, or the Beet Grapefruit Salad. I won't be trying the Chipotle Marshmallow Crispy Treats any time soon, but he has 25 rules for stress-free entertaining that cover the basics, definitely geared toward guys. How many women need to be told what to wear to their own party? Or that it should be neat and clean? (Disclaimer: I am not a gentleman. I am not a guy.)
So if you are looking for a few hints for a party, get this book. If you are looking for a completely planned out party right down to the shopping list, get this book. If you are an experienced party giver this may not be the book for you, and I'm not sure I would recommend it as a hostess (or host) gift, but as a birthday or a housewarming gift? Yes.