Cocktail Parties, Straight Up!, by sisters Lauren Purcell and Anne Purcell Grissinger, is the ultimate blueprint for creating parties infused with satisfying conversation, genuine laughter and relaxed elegance. Every party has a Conversation Kick-Starter to absolutely guarantee that guests mingle and meet. Every chapter includes our Sisters’ Secrets to Confident Entertaining, the sort of no-nonsense advice that eases the secret worries every host harbors. Every recipe has a Make-Ahead Factor, so hostesses don’t have to hire help or have a nervous breakdown in the kitchen.
To give you a taste of the down-to-earth advice you'll find in Cocktail Parties, Straight Up!, here's a short excerpt from the introduction.
The first cocktail party we ever threw together—in the apartment we shared when we moved to New York City—was not a success. Oh, nothing particularly dreadful happened. The food tasted fine, the drinks flowed freely. But the party just never seemed to jell. Lauren’s friends (journalists, mostly) talked shop on one side of the living room, while Anne’s friends (financial types, mostly) congregated on the other side. We were crushed.
But we were also determined. We’re capable cooks, not trained chefs or caterers. We’re enthusiastic cocktail drinkers, but by no means professional “mixologists.” We have full-time jobs, not full-time staffs. And we host our parties not in a mansion but in a Manhattan apartment with room for two people in the kitchen if they suck in their stomachs. So we experimented: We tried out more than a hundred hors d’oeuvre recipes, discarding most of them and fine-tuning the rest. We tinkered with the recipes for classic cocktails and invented our own. We endlessly brainstormed creative ways to get guests mingling. And we road-tested everything, throwing parties of all sorts and sizes. We would spend the next morning snacking on leftover crab dip and making loads of notes about what had worked and what hadn’t. And our own parties weren’t the only ones we dissected. Every invitation we received was an opportunity to pick up hostessing hints or hors d’oeuvre ideas.
The result of all our efforts? You’re holding it in your hands. Cocktail Parties Straight Up! Easy Hors D’oeuvres, Delicious Drinks, and Inspired Ideas for Entertaining with Style captures our experiences and provides straightforward answers to the questions we ourselves asked in our early party-throwing years. This is the no-nonsense advice you would give your sister or best friend if she asked you for hostessing how-tos. You’d share all your secrets and shortcuts, dig out your foolproof recipes. You’d give her detailed practical advice, not vague suggestions. You would help her head off mishaps that you had suffered through already. (Remember that party when you ran out of ice after only an hour? Or the time you underestimated how much glassware you needed and your guests had to drink cocktails out of coffee mugs?)
Cocktail Parties Straight Up! is like having a trusted, tell-it-like-it-is sister by your side. Or, as it happens, two sisters!