Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stress-Free Vegan Cocktail Party

The Topic: Hosting a vegan cocktail party on the cheap with VN Editorial Assistant Hilary Pollack

The Dish: Don’t let limited funds get in the way of your urge to throw a swanky soirée. Cocktail parties are a great way to bring your friends together, and offer the pleasantry of social lubrication without the liability of an apocalyptic house-destroying kegger. Better yet, they’re effortless to veganize and make pocketbook-friendly. The next time you have reason to celebratemoving into a new apartment, getting a promotion, spaying your catwhy not let the good times roll with some vegan hor d’oeuvres and libations? Here are some low-cost ways to party like it’s 1999, 2011-style.

Potent Potluck
Since the dawn of time (or at least since 16
th century England), potlucks have provided a great way to project the appearance of a gracious host when in actuality you can sit back and let your guests do most of the work. Attendees are generally happy to throw together a dish or two as long as you provide a venue, some tunes, and at least some of the booze.

Thrifty Thirst-Quenchers
Barnivore is a great resource for finding out which beer, wine, and liquor is vegan-friendly. Keep it simple with one or two specialty cocktails so that you don’t have to buy tons of ingredients.
  • Concoct easy, delicious homemade sangria and serve it in a giant crystal punch bowl (you can find them at thrift stores and they really dazzle). Sangria is super versatile and hard to mess up; you can use almost any variety of fruit and experiment with adding brandy, vodka, or white wine instead of red.
  • Mint juleps are perennial crowd-pleasers, especially in the summer, and require only a few modest components. Offer rum as well as bourbon and you’ve got yourselfand your thirsty guestsa mojito option.
  • Vegan White Russians are a stellar pick if you are perchance throwing a Big Lebowski party. Just don't get too riled up as the evening draws on—remember, aggression will not stand.
Apt Appetizers
You don’t need to slave over the stove for hours in order to produce tasty, satisfying bites.
  • Bruschetta is refreshing yet filling, and you probably already have at least half of the six ingredients for this recipe waiting in your pantry. 
  • Everyone loves butternut squash. This is a scientific phenomenon, like gravity. How about whipping up Butternut Squash-White Bean Croquettes that cook in only 15 minutes? 
  • (Vegan) cream cheese roll-ups are kindergarten-simple, but look and taste surprisingly sophisticated. I include cilantro to add some herbaceous goodness.  Or, turn up the heat with Cream Cheese Wontons
  • If you are truly, devastatingly broke or short on time, just go with store-bought guacamole, chips, hummus, and warm pita. These staples never disappoint. 
Here We Are Now, Entertain Us
Depending on the size of your party, you may want to indulge in some merry decorating and activities. Goodwill and Salvation Army are always overflowing with cheap crystal goblets if you want to create an air of prestige in your abode. If you have a working fireplace, throw an eco-friendly Duraflame log in for a romantic crackle. Music is also of great importance to achieve your desired ambiance. The Smiths’ Meat Is Murder or Moby’s Animal Rights are thematically appropriate options, or you can go with Andrew WK's Party Hard if you seek carnage. 

The Final Word: Being a killer host or hostess doesn’t have to come with a high price tag. An hour or two of prep time and a few simple drinks and snacks are all you need to set your roof on fire (figuratively). Skip the bar scene and bring the fun to your own domain, without emptying your funds or your fridge.
Photo via Copykat


  1. Fabulous ideas! you need to add using Glass Straws (Daedra and her company, www.strawesome.com, creates gorgeous - and lifetime guaranteed - glass straws)
    Drinks taste better, no plastic, no waste and no animals and marine life getting hurt from straws littering our world!

  2. Such an excellent blog!! I really loved these ideas and will implement them in my cocktail party at New York Event Venues. Planning to have DIY invitations cards too for the guests. Some new drinks will also be there.