Monday, May 28, 2012

How to throw a 1920's party - Food & Drink Menus

My favorite part of any party the doing the food & drinks! Here was my process of devising the proper menu for our Roaring 20's party.


I had a lot of fun researching in-theme menu items. It turns out at a lot of "fancy" food in the 20's involved aspics and loafs which are less than appetizing so instead I ran with the fact that Italian cuisine was new & adventuous in the 20's, and went with classy appetizers. It turns out appetizers like deviled eggs were common even back then.

Drink Menu

Perhaps our favorite part of planning the party was carefully devising a prohibition era cocktail menu. We wanted to provide a range of cocktails for people, using a range of period liquors and a range of flavor profiles.

The Bourbon Manhattan

Manahttans are fairly common cocktails these days, but it's all in how you make it & your ingredients. So I'll be very specific:

1.75 parts Bulleit Bourbon
1 Dolin Sweet Vermouth
Dash of cherry syrup from Bada Bing Cherries (undyed cocktail cherries)
Dash of angostura bitters

Stir with ice. Strain & serve with a cherry. We served it chilled in a big mason jar dispenser.

Note: Those freakishly red marashino cherries are terrible, overly sweet with little flavor or good cherry texture. We found Bada Bing Cherries from Tillen Farms at BevMo and will never go back. 

The Bee's Knees

A Gin cocktail incorporating honey and lemon juice to balance sweet & tart flavors. Very refreshing.

3 Gin, we used Beefeaters
2 Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Honey

Shake with ice, strain & serve. We served it chilled in a big mason jar dispenser.

Blood & Sand

A totally era-appropriate cocktail, the Blood & Sand was named for the 1922 Rudolf Valentino movie Blood & Sand. An alluring mix of fruity & smokey, I adore this more obscure scotch cocktail & have my own special recipe for it.

1 Scotch
1 Orange juice (original called for blood orange juice)
.75 Brandy (The original calls for cherry heering, I also like to use Luxardo)
.75 sweet vermouth

We mixed this in a pitcher & served it chilled & added ice.

Food menu

It's OK to use prepared foods like this cake,
just make sure they're delicious
To keep folks satiated and moderately sober, I devised a heavy enough menu to help absorb the prohibition era cocktails. Here is my menu for a "heavy hor d'oeuvres" 20's party:
  • Spinach & turkey lasagna
  • Ceasar salad
  • Marinated red pepper poppers stuffed with fresh goat cheese
  • Deviled eggs*
  • Mini cheese souffles
  • Roasted pancetta wrapped asperagus*
  • Herb & roasted garlic cheve spread* with crackers
  • Mini soft-rid cheeses like camembert and brie with crackers
  • Cucumber rounds topped with hummus and roasted red pepper*
  • Florentine cookies
  • Salted caramels and assorted chocolates
  • Layered chocolate mouse cake
Only the items with * were things made by me. Balance is key when planning a party menu: hot vs cold, salty vs sweet, veggie/healthy vs fatty or meaty.

Death to the crudite platter!

I am clearly not my mother's daughter... it's standard operating procedure at every family function that there be a "veggie tray" with raw brocolli, baby carrots, etc. They even sell them now at Safeway organized into sections with that insipid ranch dip inserted into the center. I don't mind a veggie tray at easy gatherings, but I didn't want to go there for this party out of habit.

I'm now on a mission to provide tasty veggie snacks that are a departure from the crudite platter - my first attempt: Cucumber rounds topped with hummus and roasted red pepper.

These were inspired by the recipe for Cucmber Slices with Chickpea Puree and Thyme at Whole Living.

My recipe:
  1. Slice seedless or english cucumbers, lay out on a paper towel and sprinkle lightly with salt to draw out moisture, add another paper towel on top.  After 20 minutes remove paper towels, refridgerate until ready to top.
  2. Slice jarred roasted red peppers into thin strips.
  3. Top with hummus (I used Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Hummus) and a red pepper slice. If you have time to get fancy, sprinkle tiny fresh thyme leaves on top.

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