Monday, March 26, 2012
HourSchool: Planning a cocktail party
About a month ago I was contacted by a neat start-up company called HourSchool and asked to put together a class that would teach people something new and interesting. The company is a social school that taps into the creative spirit and networking capabilities of people while connecting them with those who are in search of learning something new. At first, I was completely afraid of planning a lesson, teaching strangers, and offering something that might not interest anyone, but after I dug deeper into HourSchool's philosophy and saw the amazing classes that have already been taught in areas like San Francisco, Austin, Santa Monica, Ann Arbor, and more, I couldn't wait to get my group of "students". HourSchool believes that everyone has something to teach, so I tapped into my love of entertaining and planned an afternoon of cocktail party essentials: How to craft a memorable cocktail, arrange a few appetizers, and decorate with easy to recreate decor. The intimate group of students were such a pleasure to teach and unlike any class I've ever taken, this tutorial actually turned into a mini afternoon soiree, complete with fresh cocktails. Here is a little recap of what I went over and tips to arrange your own cocktail party.
Setting up the table, I used a mix of different heights, cake stands to hold fresh fruit, and silver trays to add interested. Everything had a rustic feel and invited guests to mix flavors and sample different items.
The cocktail was a lemon rosemary fizz that was mixed beforehand and set on the bar in a pitcher next to a cup of rosemary sprigs for garnish. Everything to make the cocktail was set up for guests, meaning I didn't have to concoct individual glasses for each person.
To add to the lemon theme I lined a pitcher with a slim vase and placed lemon slices in between the two glasses (using a skewer to push the slices down). Filling the vase with simple garden roses added to the rustic feel.
The cheese board was a traditional pairing of soft, hard, and goat cheese, accompanied by dried fruit and honey. To add a little more interest to the tastes, I used marcona almonds and garnished the board with rosemary. A drizzle of honey on the soft (brie) cheese added an extra element.
The main appetizer was my go-to pea pesto crostini. The spread can be made hours before guests arrive, along with slicing and toasting the bread. I left all of the plates and trays on the serving table so when it came time to arrange the food, I already knew which plates I would be using.
The entire class was such a fun experience and I'm already planning on teaching and attending other HourSchool events.