Cocktail parties are always fun but they're more fun when you stir in some party games. If you have a diverse group of guests who might not know each other well the best way to break the ice is add a game to the mix.
I'm not just talking the ubiquitous beer pong, but some truly laughter inducing card, board and classic games that can help bring your guests together actively. Smaller gatherings can center nicely around a single game while larger groups can benefit from several small tables, each with a different game, where folks can pick and choose and switch it up as well.
Set up a self serve cocktail bar or trays of prepared shots, add a snack bar, arrange your table(s) and let the fun ensue while you enjoy your own party.
Here are some of my favorites:
CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY
My all time Top Party Game. They call it a "party game for horrible people" which is what got me to buy it. Two decks of cards, one set with wild questions with blanks that players fill in from cards they were dealt from the other deck which has some equally wild and truly odd fill-in-the-blank solutions that will have everyone in fits of laughter.
You probably won't make it past the first round, and cheating makes it way more fun.
For the less adventurous and more knowledgeable BUT playing in teams and adding a cheating element of charades hints makes it way more fun.
This one's mean, invite some enemies you can pick on because the voting can get vicious. You'll laugh - hard, but someone's going to get hurt feelings unless you play after you've all had enough drinks so no one will remember anything that went on.
THESE CARDS WILL GET YOU DRUNK
They will. If you want to have fun but not get sloshed, don't do shots, do sips. There's some fun challenges and activities in this one, but you've added booze so move the priceless antiques to another room.
Jenga for boozers.
Great for movie lovers, most of the quotes are pretty well-known, there are a few quotes from older and classic movies.
DRAWING WITHOUT DIGNITY
40 Proof Pictionary. Get a big box of crayonsand get your drunk doodles on.
Come on, nothing funnier than a bunch of drunks climbing all over each other and falling down. Want to make your next party funnier? Set up a hidden webcam and record the whole brouhaha.
A G rated conversation starter that can tell you things about your friends you might not otherwise have ever found out about.
With it's roots in medieval England, Plum Pudding, or Christmas Pudding (aka "Pud", pronounced like "put" but with a D instead of a T.) is a staple dessert in the UK. Oddly, it contains no actual plums but instead uses a wide variety of dried fruits. This makes sense when you know that plums were what folks called raisins back in those days, which I think is odd since dried plums are prunes, but who am I to argue?
The pud also contained some form of nut, usually walnuts, as well as molasses, suet, orange zest, brandy and the usual assortment of typical baking ingredients.
Since it does contain brandy, probably used as a way to preserve the pudding before the time of refrigeration, I figure this gives me the go-ahead to flip that pudding on it's head and turn it into a cocktail. One WITH real plum.
. . . like your Gran used to make,
only in a glass, with more booze.
1 Oz Plum Brandy (Slivovitz)
1 Oz Cognac
1/4 Oz Grand Marnier
1 Tsp. Plum Pudding Syrup
3 Dashes Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
Garnish: Assorted dried fruits on a cocktail pick with a small cube of actual plum pudding if you want to find/make it. (Recipe link below.)
Add the plum brandy, cognac, Grand Marnier and the plum pudding syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake until chilled then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Add your garnishes.
Tap on the black walnut bitters and serve.
PLUM PUDDING SYRUP
2 Plums, Chopped
2 C. Sugar
1 C. Water
1 Tsp. Lemon Zest
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 Mace Blades
Directions: Place all the ingredients into a small pan, bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer until syrup has thickened, stirring often. Remove from heat, strain and cool until ready to use. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
The leftover syrup can be used on pancakes, waffles, pound cake and even over ice cream.
I'm very fond of nice chewy, deep chocolate brownies and my favorite of all is a dark chocolate brownie baked with cream cheese batter. There's just something about that cream cheese and chocolate mixture that has me totally addicted.
Since I love doing cocktails inspired by food and national food holidays, I decided it was time to create and mix up a few of these.
CREAM CHEESE BROWNIE
2 Oz Dark Creme de Cacao
1 Oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1/2 Tsp. Espresso Powder
2 Drops Bob's Vanilla Bitters
Garnish: 4 Tablespoons Lightly Whipped Heavy Cream, Dusting of Espresso Powder, 1" Cube of a Cream Cheese Brownie
Lightly whip your heavy cream to soft peaks then set aside.
Fill your shaker with ice then shake ingredients until chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, gently pour on the lightly whipped heavy cream, garnish and serve.
Originating in Cuba in 1917, the Bacardi Cocktail is basically a daiquiri that uses grenadine in place of sugar. There is some discussion as to whether or not a Bacardi Cocktail was simply a daiquiri in brand clothing (i.e. just a daiquiri that specifies Bacardi brand rum).
If you look closely at the poster below, you will note that even Bacardi itself calls the version without Grenadine a dry version of the Bacardi Cocktail, whereas they called the version with the Grenadine a sweet version. Also note the smaller ingredient sizes, that's because cocktail glasses were smaller back in those days.
Also evidenced by the posters above is Bacardi's campaign to keep the Bacardi in the Bacardi Cocktail. In fact in 1936 the Bacardi company got so tired of people using non Bacardi rum in their signature cocktail that they took the case to court to protect their brand. On April 28th of that same year, the New York Supreme Court ruled that the drink must contain Bacardi rum in order to be called a Bacardi Cocktail.
So be aware, if it doesn't use Bacardi, you can't legally call it a Bacardi Cocktail!
* The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale DeGroff
** Generally, when any cocktail calls for grenadine, I will use my Homemade Grenadine Syrup in place of bottled Grenadines. In this case, I do not because bottled syrup is part of the balance of the original cocktail recipe.