As the season is officially upon us, M&C asked the experts at D'Amico and Lurcat Catering for holiday party tips. Following are ideas and recipes for making matters just a little merrier.
From Rachel Bruzek, senior event planner:
• Traditional holiday-fare classics are big this year, such as prime rib, potatoes and salad.
• Popular drinks on this year's holiday menus include classic egg nog, candy-cane martinis, hot buttered rum, mulled wine and Mexican hot cocoa.
• Many clients want to focus on food and beverage pairings, such as hot cocoa and churros; sushi and sake; classic wine and cheese (embellished with crusty breads and tasty accompaniments such as truffle honey, pear mostarda and pure honeycomb); and pulled-chicken tacos with mini margaritas (above, photograph by Noah Wolf Photography).
• Make it all small - think small plates and mini food. These items are eye-catching and make it easy for guests to nosh and mingle freely.
• Additional holiday trends we're seeing include:
o Smoked things: trout, bacon, vegetables
o Mashed things: parsnips with apples (not potatoes)
o Squash soup shooters with smoked bacon
o Bacon candy
o Large-format dishes: seafood towers
o Ramen (not only is it trendy, it's a good use of leftovers)
o Gluten-free is in! Polenta is particularly popular.
From Jessica Kielblock, senior event planner:
Spice up holiday gatherings with these festive, customized cocktails:
• 1 oz apple brandy
• 2 oz apple cider
• 5 oz champagne
Pour apple brandy into the bottom of each glass. Add champagne and top with a splash of fresh apple cider.
Put Spice in Your Life
• 2 oz bourbon
• 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 oz grenadine
• 1/4 oz allspice dram (such as St. Elizabeth; also known as pimento dram)
• 1/4 oz cinnamon syrup
• 2 dashes Angosta bitters
• 1 slice lemon, to garnish
Combine bourbon, juice, grenadine, dram, syrup and bitters in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with cracked ice. Garnish with lemon.
From Christy Turman, event planner:
To add a touch of holiday dazzle, all you need is some edible glitter! Rim a champagne flute in edible glitter and add a pick with cranberries, and you have instant holiday sparkle. Here's a fun recipe to try:
Partridge in a Pear Tree
• 1 1/2 oz pear vodka
• 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 oz simple syrup
• Sprig of rosemary
Shake the first three ingredients, top with the bubbly and add the festive rosemary sprig.
From Amanda Welter, event planner
Corporate holiday party trends we're seeing include:
• Companies are opting to celebrate the holidays with employees during the day or on weeknights.
• Many companies are taking an afternoon away from the office to get into the holiday spirit and celebrate with a fun, team-bonding activity.
• Employees getting the afternoon off to go volunteer together is a great way to give back to the community and build camaraderie at the same time.
• After an afternoon of good deeds, companies are ending the day with an hors d'oeuvres reception or dinner in honor of their employees.