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How To Host An Amazing Vintage-Style Cocktail Party

Fancy hosting a classic vintage-style cocktail party to celebrate the end of the work week? Throwing a cocktail party in style requires a little finesse, as well as an understanding of cocktail etiquette. 

In order to pull off a successful vintage-style party at home, it’s important for you to set the scene, have a well stocked bar, and serve up delicious classic cocktails in beautiful glassware that will wow your guests.

How to successfully pull off a vintage-style cocktail party


As the owner of The Hour and The Modern Home Bar in Alexandria, Virginia, I am known as “The Cocktail Queen'' around my hometown. I recently launched a brand new line of vintage-inspired, American-made modern glassware at The Modern Home Bar that is perfect for entertaining large groups.  I value the importance of having beautiful drinkware when connecting with friends and family over a drink, but I also think entertaining should be as easy as possible for the host.  Because all of my glassware is dishwasher safe, it’s ideal for serving at parties! 

With the help of local bartenders, I’ve written a series of cocktail books that include easy to make cocktail recipes for the home bar.  My second book, Old Town Drinks, includes stories and signature recipes from Alexandria bartenders.  My most recent book, Home Bar Basics, is written for those new to the home bar and includes standard classic recipes as well as some ideas for giving your own twist on classic cocktails using whatever ingredients you have on hand.

On top of that, I absolutely love the process of planning and hosting a cocktail party, whether it be a vintage-style themed one or an intimate cocktail shindig with friends and family. 

Today, I’m sharing all my best tips for hosting a classic vintage-style cocktail party, 3 cocktail recipes you can use during your party, as well as hosting tips to ensure your vintage-style cocktail party is a blast!

Before your cocktail party guests arrive

The success of your vintage-themed cocktail party lies in your preparation. Here are some of the best tips to follow if you are planning on having a stress-free hosting experience:

  • First things first, you should always send invitations ahead of time as well as ask that guests wear appropriate cocktail attire.
  • Follow a festive theme for your tabletop decorations. Make sure to include at least one or two vintage items such as a vintage cocktail shaker or cocktail pitcher, bar tools or serving piece.
  • Curate an upbeat yet welcoming 1950s and 1960s music playlist before your party.
  • Prepare a good amount of finger food and snacks that are easy for your guests to pick up and enjoy!
  • Be sure to have plenty of ice on hand (preferably in an ice bucket), as well as water and non-alcoholic beverage options for your guests. 
  • Lastly, stock and set your bar with the essentials, including appropriate glassware, ingredients for your cocktails and a variety of garnishes.

Time to prepare your cocktails!

Once your bar is set, it is now time to prepare your signature cocktails. This truly is the most important part to pulling off a classic vintage-style cocktail party that your guests will always remember. 

Need a little inspiration for your cocktails? If you’re a beginner at crafting cocktails, here are simple 3-ingredient cocktails that are sure to dazzle and impress your guests!

1.The Negroni

This classic libation might be a little strong for some, but a negroni is certainly an easy-to-make crowd pleaser. It includes equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth. 

How to make a classic negroni cocktail

Place a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Pour the spirits into the glass. Stir and garnish with an expressed orange peel. 

This quick video shows you how to make a Negroni in just a few simple steps.

2. The Classic Martini

Who doesn’t love a classic Martini? The Martini is a 3-ingredient classic cocktail made with two parts gin or vodka, one part dry vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters that are stirred in a mixing pitcher, strained into a cocktail glass then topped with a garnish.  If your guests have varied palates, you can get creative with your garnishes and use an olive, onion or lemon twist as garnish.

Watch this video to learn how to make a Martini to impress your guests!

3. The Rickey

Last but not least, The Rickey is another classic cocktail that will be an instant hit with your guests. Named after a DC lobbyist who favored this classic libation in the late 19th century, The Rickey will be a favorite amongst your guests who love a fresh, less boozy kind of cocktail.

Combine two ounces gin, vodka or bourbon with ½ oz. fresh lime juice in a tall Collins glass over ice.  Top with seltzer water and garnish with lime wheels for the perfect vintage-style classic cocktail.

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3 Tips For Choosing The Right Glassware For Your Cocktails

Now that you have chosen what cocktails you’ll be serving your guests, it’s time to choose the right glassware.  We have several tips for picking which glass is appropriate for different cocktails.

  • Rocks glass - This is the best glass for serving cocktails that are muddled in the glass or spirits mixed with other ingredients that do not include bubbles. Short round glasses like those in our Classic Collection reflect strong and elegant elements that go really well with cocktails such as an Old Fashioned. You can also serve juice, water and non-alcoholic mocktails with rock glasses.
  • Highball/Collins glass - If you’re making cocktails that include anything with bubbles, a tall Collins glass is the best option. Sparkling wine, tonic water, soda water and ginger beer are usually served in a tall glass. You can learn more about the differences between highball and Collins glasses here.
  • Stemware - Stemware is the appropriate choice for cocktails that are chilled but not served over ice, such as a Cosmopolitan or a classic Martini.

5 Lessons To Learn For Throwing the Perfect Vintage Cocktail Party

Here are 5 important lessons that will help you throw a successful vintage-cocktail themed party that you and your guests will definitely enjoy:

How to throw the perfect vintage-style cocktail party
  • You drink with your eyes first. Always use appropriate and festive glassware—and don’t forget the garnish!
  • Keep it simple by sticking to 3-ingredient drinks. They are easy to make and are instant crowd pleasers!
  • Play music before your cocktail party begins. If you’re unsure of what songs to play, classic songs are your best bet. It never hurts to play Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack to set the mood.
  • Punch is always a good idea to have at the ready as guests arrive.  Prepare a punch in a large punch bowl and place it in a visible and accessible area that is close to (if not on) your bar top.  Your guests can immediately enjoy sipping on a beverage as you prepare other cocktails at the bar.  Also, make sure that your punch is periodically refilled so that your guests can help themselves to more punch throughout the party.
  • Finally, keep it easy on yourself and have fun! Put your effort into making one or two really good cocktails that you know everyone will enjoy. By limiting the number of cocktails you have to make, your guests will fondly remember enjoying both your company and the cocktails you serve.