Dec 9, 2022 • 4M

Drinks & Light Bites

Festive cocktails and a way to do it all by splitting it up!

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Victoria de la Maza
A podcast about ins and outs of high-society, humorous stories, and personal anecdotes. And yes, opinions, lots of opinions.
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To celebrate New Year’s Eve this year, my friends and I are splitting up.

Don’t worry; it is not a radical concept but rather a reason to gather and be able to do it all. What we are splitting is the entertaining! I am doing a cocktail party at home during the early part of the evening; then, the celebrations continue at their house for dinner and beyond or until after midnight. Brilliant, I say! 

My part of the evening is just what it is meant to be. An introduction to the main event, a party to start the party, and a way to gather and rev up engines for the long race that are New Year’s Eve celebrations. 

I love the idea of welcoming guests with a “house drink,” and for this evening, I am making my version of French 75, a Champagne-based cocktail that is lethal and delicious. The original one is made with gin, but I prefer this cocktail made with vodka, so, fresh lime juice, champagne, and soda water are stirred together. I make it in pitchers and keep it chilled in the fridge. I then serve it in fancy cocktail glasses… its golden color is true glamour. 

For a lovely cocktail party, serve some hot and some cold hors d’oeuvres. And calculate two of each per person. Some will have three or four, others one. Arrange each one on its separate tray or platter, and either pass them around or leave them on sideboards for people to help themselves. Just keep an eye on the trays and replenish them as needed. 

At home, I don’t think it is necessary to have a full bar like at a restaurant. You know what your friends like to drink, so have plenty of that. Do remember to have extra ice and lots of cocktail napkins. 

When planning hors d’oeuvres, variation is key. Have some with and without bread, some as easy as toasted nuts with spices, and others a bit more elaborate. These tidbits are meant to whet the appetite and add a layer of festivity before the main event. 

For this night, easiness with a bit of pizzaz is all I need by making some small bites that please everyone. I know we are going to have a delicious dinner later on. I do, however, like to glam them up; after all, it is once a year!

I am preparing smoked salmon on cucumber rounds, making homemade potato crisps served with a garlic aioli dip, and baking parmesan crisps served with sour cream and a dollop of salmon or trout caviar (my new favorite thing). Other ideas are paté of foie gras on toast points, shrimp dipped in spicy cocktail sauce, and baby tomatoes dipped in salt. Think of a mixture of color, texture, and flavors.

For the warm selection, I love mushrooms stuffed with truffles, pigs in a blanket (I know, I know, but they are always devoured and a true crowd-pleaser), and cheese puffs, a really old-fashioned hors d’oeuvre that I learned in Palm Beach.

The order in which to serve them is the same as a dinner: start with the vegetable ones, then the cheesy ones, continue with all the fish or shellfish and end with the meats. 

I have moved some furniture around - basically just pushed armchairs toward the perimeter of the room - to allow for friends to stand and move around more freely. Flowers and foliage adorn the side tables, and jazzy music is playing softly in the background. Ok, not so softly; I want to get this party going! 

Champagne Cocktail a la French 75 

Serves 6 

1 cup vodka

8 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 cup sparkling water

1 750ml bottle of Champagne, Cava or Prosecco 

In a pitcher half-filled with ice, stir in the vodka, lime juice, soda water, and Champagne. Strain and serve very cold in Champagne coups or martini glasses.

Parmesan Crisps with Salmon Caviar 

Makes 20 approx


Totally addictive to both eat and make, these crisps are also great to use as a garnish for soups and instead of croutons for salads. They are quite salty -baking the cheese brings out its most pungent flavor and so, a little sour cream balances out the flavors. 

2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup sour cream

4 oz salmon or trout caviar 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, make 1 teaspoon mound with the parmesan cheese, separated about 3 inches. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is totally melted and lightly golden. Repeat with the rest of the cheese. Remove from the parchment paper and let them cool. 

Arrange the parmesan crisps on a serving platter, add a small dollop of sour cream, and top with a 1/2 teaspoon of salmon or trout caviar. Serve immediately. 

Palm Beach Cheese Puffs

These cheese puffs are served in every single elegant house in Palm Beach. Arranged on highly polished silver trays, these are a perfect pre-dinner bite. If you like spice, add a few sprinkles of red cayenne pepper or your favorite seasoning.

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1⁄2 cup yellow onion, very finely chopped

  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • 10 white bread slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and onion. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the bread into rounds using a 1-inch cutter and arrange them on a baking sheet in one layer. Place a heaping teaspoon of the mayonnaise-cheese spread on top of the bread to cover well, making the shape of a small hill. Bake for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the tops turn golden.

To serve, transfer to a decorative plate and serve hot.

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