Style and individuality are always high on the list of priorities for TLC’s Liz Taylor, who shares her secrets to hosting a spectacular drinks party, whatever the season.
‘Style is hard to define,’ says Liz, ‘but it’s all about the finer details; the thought that goes into a party whatever the occasion; the creation of something so special, so personal, so unique to you that your guests will be talking about it for weeks to come.’
If budget allows, Liz advises hiring in professional bartenders to ensure your evening goes smoothly, drinks are served correctly and you are relaxed and free to mingle with guests. ‘Whether it’s serving chilled champagne, pouring a cold beer into the right glass or serving up your own one-off, bespoke cocktail, professional help is invaluable,’ she explains.
Quality is up there with style and individuality for Liz who advises serving only the best premium spirits, freshly squeezed juices and really good Champagne (or Cava or Prosecco) at your drinks party. ‘The same with beer and other drinks,’ she adds. ‘Just serve the very best you can for your guests.’
People often overlook the importance of glassware and presentation when hosting a drinks party. ‘But plastic wine glasses and swigging warm beer out of cans does not make for a night to remember,’ laughs Liz. Serving a chilled beer in the right glass, ice cold fizz in a flute or even a mocktail in a classic high ball immediately ‘elevates your drinks party to another level’,’ she says. ‘And you can hire glassware easily on the high street or through more specialist suppliers depending on what you are serving and looking for,’ she explains.
‘You can’t take the Christmas out of Christmas,’ says Liz. ‘However consider quirky, updated and stylish festive ideas such as serving mulled wine, cider or hot port in vintage teacups, branded bespoke mugs or individual, personalised thermos flasks; glasses of the finest chilled fizz served alongside infused sugar cubes or vintage syringes filled with fresh fruit puree; bespoke cocktails and mocktails in jam jars or tin cans.’
Ice, ice and more ice. ‘Just make sure you never run out,’ says Liz. ‘You’ll need it to keep bottles chilled and to crush for cocktails or add to long drinks.’ She suggests creating an instant talking point by serving ice in quirky, vintage or customised ice buckets which make a statement. ‘Use a vintage tin bath, filled with ice, to keep bottles cool or really up the ante and impress your guests with Aston Martin ice buckets,’ she suggests.
You might be hosting a drinks party, but it is always a good idea to offer guests something to nibble on and soak up the alcohol. ‘Opt for traditional festive favourites but serve then with a modern twist,’ says Liz. ‘Cocktails sausage on mini silver forks for example or a selection of mini Christmas puddings, mince pies and truffles served on a Lazy Susan in the centre of the table.’
Liz advises hosts to give their entertainment serious consideration. Create your ownpersonal playlist to share with guests, both on the evening and after the event. Get the volume right, and the tempo, to make sure the evening goes with a flow. ‘Live music is always a talking point,’ says Liz who specialises in putting together bespoke bands to create a unique sound for your special occasion. ‘You could hire a string quartet, a pair of funky violinists, a classic crooner or even a full dance band for guests to enjoy,’ she says.
Liz says the key to a successful event is to ‘consider every detail, and always with your guests rather than yourself in mind.’
‘A host has certain responsibilities which go beyond creating a beautiful setting and serving the right food and drinks,’ she continues. ‘Always try to be available to meet and greet guests on arrival and have a nominated friend, partner or relative to assist you in this. If nothing else, ensure you share a few words with every guest and introduce people to each other,’ she says. ‘And ensure everyone has access to safe transport home at the end of the evening. Why not wow them with a beautiful bespoke gift, maybe individually named hip flasks with ‘one for the road’!
And finally, Liz’s top secret to hosting the perfect drinks party? ‘Go easy on the drinks yourself,’ she laughs. ‘Seriously though, a host should never have too much to drink, at least not until the last guest has left. Then it’s perfectly okay to crack open that bottle of chilled fizz you put at the back of the fridge earlier – and relax and enjoy relieving what should have been a wonderful and memorable party.’