Author Topic: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?  (Read 3981 times)

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jmarvellous

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Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« on: August 20, 2012, 01:16:32 PM »
BF and I are hosting a small (10-20 people, I'm guessing -- RSVPs have not come in yet) gathering in our home for his birthday on Saturday at 9 p.m. (and yes, it's 100 percent normal in our circle to host your own birthday party -- no gifts are given). He's an easygoing vegan, so I'd prefer to keep the menu vegan if possible. One guest has a nut allergy.

We don't keep liquor around at home because we don't drink it much, but BF's favorite is whiskey/bourbon, so I'd like to come up with a punch or an easy cocktail with whiskey in it, in addition to providing wine and beer. Any ideas?

We'll definitely have chips and salsa, crackers and hummus (BF's favorite), and some cold veggies/pickles. Any other tips? He only said "nothing 'fussy' I have to think about too much," but I am an eager cook, so I could prep a couple of heartier snacks. I will be helping my little sister move all day Saturday, but I will have Friday all day free to prep, as needed.

I am trying to decide whether to do a birthday cake. If you generally go to these sorts of parties, do they have cakes? I could also do cookies (cookie cake?) or brownies as a more casual dessert. BF is indifferent. Is blowing out the candles lame after 30?  :D

In sum: Whiskey cocktails or punch? 'Un-fussy' apps?

Thanks for any suggestions!

cicero

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 01:28:18 PM »
I would add a few more dishes.

* do you do 'fake meat' dishes? if so, i would do some mini veg hot dogs in sauce or "pigs" in blanks with dipping sauce.
some other ideas:
* stuffed grape leaves (with rice and veg)
*mushroom caps stuffed with... something? sorry, i would normally say cheese here, but I don't know anything vegan.
* mini vegan patties with sauce.
* whole roasted eggplant, split open, with tahini poured over.
*felafel (check to see that they don't have eggs), with tahini or yogurt dip
* tofu...

ETA - yes, i would expect *some* sort of cake. cupcakes, brownies, cake... something

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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 01:35:59 PM »
I would do some sort of sweet - if it isn't a cake, arrange them in a pleasing looking stack on a cake platter.

As for the drink, I haven't made them in years but I recall Whiskey Sours as being really yummy.  They have whiskey and bar lime and I don't recall what else.

With a 9:00 pm start time, I wouldn't worry about going too too heavy on the food unless you expect people to be doing fairly heavy drinking.  What you have sounds good.  Maybe add babaganoush (like hummus only with eggplant) as a second dip?  I like cicero's suggestion of falafel, too.  I buy falafel balls at Costco and would serve them with tezeki (sp?) which is a Greek yogurt based dip.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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jmarvellous

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 01:43:18 PM »
I like the idea of falafel or baba ghanouj! I live less than a mile from two Mediterranean/Middle Eastern markets (one with a bakery), so I can either buy them premade or get good ingredients. Was already thinking of going there for a stack of pita.

Most of our guests aren't vegan (I'd say 50/50 vegetarian (like me)/meat eaters) so I'd prefer to avoid the 'fake meat' stuff in favor of things that 'just happen' to be vegan.

(Just FYI Outdoor Girl, but tzatziki is yogurt sauce -- I'm sure BF would be fine with having it around, but it's not vegan. I know the specifics of these things can be annoying/confusing if you're not used to this kind of diet!)

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 01:45:56 PM »
I realized that just after I posted.  'You bonehead, yogurt isn't vegan.'  :)  I was coming back here to comment on that.

I have friends who are vegetarian so I always forget about the dairy when it comes to vegan.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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Cat-Fu

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 03:23:29 PM »
1. These cupcakes are vegan and completely delicious, and I highly recommend them: http://shmooedfood.blogspot.com/2006/01/fluffy-white-cupcakes.html

2. Amaretto sours made with bourbon are also amazingly delicious, so you could offer them along with whiskey sours: http://www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com/2012/i-make-the-best-amaretto-sour-in-the-world/ (I am too cheap to get cask-proof bourbon, the regular stuff works as well.)

3. Non-fussy appetizer ideas:
  • marinated olives (mix olives, olive oil, garlic, and herbs, done!)
  • vegetarian potstickers/samosas (I think TJ's ones are vegan)
  • roasted nuts
  • roasted chickpeas
  • bruschetta
  • risotto-stuffed mushrooms?

I have to say, potstickers are my favorite to fry up after people start getting a bit tipsy. It doesn't really matter if you burn the bottom a bit, (it just tastes better!) and everyone seems to just shovel them in.
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O'Dell

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 03:39:32 PM »
How about a fresh fruit platter? Vegan refried beans or a black bean salsa or guacamole (yum) along with the chips and salsa. With the hummus you could serve pita, either whole or toasted like chips. If you are looking for something to cook, making them from scratch is fairly easy and a real crowd-pleaser. Another unfussy appetizer that I've found goes over well is ciabatta bread or similar with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. Definitely pop for a good balsamic if you can. Delish!

And no blowing out candles after 30yo isn't lame! But then I'm 43 and want a pinata for my upcoming B-day, so for sure take my advice with a grain of salt. ;)

ETA: with 10-20 guests and wine and beer on hand, I think individual cocktails would be better than a punch, unless you find a recipe for a punch you can make by the pitcher.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 03:41:46 PM by O'Dell »
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 04:46:21 PM »
For bourbon cocktails like like whiskey sours and Old Fashions. 

For rye whiskey I like Manhattans. 

The only bourbon punch I'm familiar with if bourbon milk punch usually served at brunch.

buvezdevin

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2012, 05:08:14 PM »
A dear friend shared her family recipe for Bourbon Slush several years ago.  I keep in on my home office bulletin board, not because I make it often, but because it is fantastically popular at parties and I never want to lose it.  It's proven popular with those who don't like bourbon, or usually drink only wine or beer, and it tastes much better than I would have guessed from the recipe alone, which I requested after having some at my friend's house.

2 cups of strong brewed tea
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of bourbon
1 large can frozen lemonade
1 small can frozen orange juice
7 cans water

Mix and freeze in a large container or pitcher
To make individual servings, scrape the frozen mix into a glass and add Sprite or Sprite Zero soft drink to make the consistency of a slushee.

The amount of Sprite can be varied per glass made, and while very little Sprite makes for a fairly strong cocktail, there is enough non-alcohol mix that these can be enjoyed more freely than whiskey sours, old fashioneds or manhattans - though I agree with PPs that those are wonderful drinks, too.
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MrsCrazyPete

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2012, 07:10:53 PM »
I just made a yummy dip yesterday that would be great!

In a food processor, combine the following:
1 can drain great northern beans
2 cups fresh spinach
Juice of 2 lemons
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp dried dill
S&P to taste

This was so yummy, we scooped it up with pita chips and ate all of it (just DH & me)!!
Sell crazy somewhere else, we're all stocked up here.

QueenofAllThings

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2012, 08:06:32 PM »
On a different tack, you said you didn't mind making heartier apps, but would be helping your sister move all day.

Don't underestimate the exhaustion of helping someone move!  ;)  Give yourself time for a nap or whatever before setup and arrival!  :)

jmarvellous

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2012, 08:26:18 PM »
On a different tack, you said you didn't mind making heartier apps, but would be helping your sister move all day.

Don't underestimate the exhaustion of helping someone move!  ;)  Give yourself time for a nap or whatever before setup and arrival!  :)

Thanks. She's moving into a dorm, and they only give a 1-hour window for move-in! I'm pretty sure her heaviest things will be a laptop and a box or 10 of clothes. I just anticipate spending some time with her and my mother during the day because I rarely see my mom, and I'm sure my sister will need a bit of help unpacking.

I appreciate everyone's tips so far.

MrsCrazyPete, I made a pretty similar dip (but with loads of parsley instead of spinach, and even more garlic) for my last party, and I agree that it's a good one.

Venus193

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2012, 09:26:25 PM »
I just saw a cool recipe on the back of a bag of baby carrots that I think was:

1 lb baby carrots, cooked (leave hot or cool off, your preference)

1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar or brown sugar Splenda

Zap the 2nd four ingredients in a food processor, then mix into carrots.

Elsewhere on this forum is my recipe for Cold Sesame Noodles.  You can eliminate the peanut butter and add another 2 tablespoons of tahini.

lowspark

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 08:27:27 AM »
My go-to vegan appetizer is guacamole. It's naturally vegan and everyone loves it. Here's my very simple recipe.

Combine mashed avacados, your favorite jarred salsa, lots (LOTS) of fresh squeezed lime & kosher salt. The lime not only keeps the avacado from turning brown, it gives a some wonderful tang to the dip so be generous with it.

My go-to vegan dessert is fruit pie. You can make a crust using crisco only (no butter) and the filling is mainly sugar and fruit. Right now I'd probably do a blueberry, blackberry or strawberry since they are in season.

mechtilde

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Re: Casual Birthday Party -- Cocktails? Snacks?
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 09:12:02 AM »
My go-to vegan dessert is fruit pie. You can make a crust using crisco only (no butter) and the filling is mainly sugar and fruit. Right now I'd probably do a blueberry, blackberry or strawberry since they are in season.

I make a fruit crumble, using non-dairy margarine, and serve it hot with vegan ice cream. There are some really nice ones now, like Swedish Glace. Sorbets are often suitable too.
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