How to Host a Mad Men Cocktail Party

madmen cocktail 1

Whether you’re looking for a fun Oscars viewing party idea or planning ahead  for the return of Mad Men, I’ve got your covered.  I love the stylized, sexy, and tumultuous feelings that are conjured up during awards season.  For me the Oscars mean it’s time to cue up the martinis, don that epic up do, and get ready to soiree.  I hosted a chic 60’s inspired cocktail soiree with some friends thanks to Smirnoff Vodka.  Cocktail parties are easy and fun and easy to host and most importantly, enjoy. By following some simple steps, you’ll be sure to host the hottest party around, without breaking a sweat.

 Ambience

Think ahead about the tone for the party.  This includes the invitations, music and decor.  Fortunately, decor is easiest in our place since it begs for any 50s or 60s vibe soiree.  But you can easily change up an space with some dimmed lighting and furniture location.  Along with vintage glasses, I collect cool vintage pieces from the thrift store.  For under $30, you can snag cool and interesting pieces for the party, no cheesy plastic table covers necessary!

I usually opt for Pandora station for my parties (“Mad Men”  or “Moody French Jazz”); however, Alan creates a playlist weeks ahead of time using Spotify.  We like to plan ahead and create the playlist for the life of the party.  We start off the playlist fun and welcoming and continue for the duration of the party.  Planning about 30 minutes before the party should end, the playlist slows does to wrapping up and easy going music.  I never kick people out of a party, but this sends the message that things are coming to an end.

Tip: Select an invitation that sets the tone for the party, much like a wedding invitation.  You want to guests excited for the party so don’t skimp on the invite, whether it’s creativity or splurging on a unique statement piece.

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Cocktails

Every 60’s inspired party begins with good cocktails, more specifically a signature cocktail.  To keep with the Mad Men theme, I selected the Classic Martini to serve my guests.  It’s an all time favorite and always in style.  It’s simple to shake and serve: 1.25 oz of Smirnoff Vodka, .25 oz dry vermouth, and a lemon twist.

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I always like to add in a second signature cocktail to give my guests an option for drinks.  With the classic martini staying true to vintage splendor, I whipped up the Gilmet: 1.25 oz Smirnoff Sorbet Light Lemon and .5 oz lime juice, topped with a lime wedge.  It’s a fresh and a modern take on a classic cocktail.  I knew these cocktails were delish when I sampled them before the party.  There were a hit! Much like everything else, details help set the vibe for the party.  So if you’re aiming for swanky soiree, dish out those fancy glasses and serve up a sophisticated martini.

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Tip: To keep the party flowing,  make several pitchers of both drinks ahead of time so you’re not stuck playing bartender all night long.

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I brought out the big guns aka my vintage glassware for the party.  Alan thinks I have a slight addiction to collecting vintage glasses, which I do.  However, my dozens of vintage glasses come in handy when hosting a party as each drink gets its own signature glass.  It’s a fact, no offense to the red party cup, but a classic martini tastes better in a Dorothy Thorpe glass.  Plus, the glassware helps set the vintage vibe of the party; they serve a dual purpose: serving cocktails and decor!

Tip: Set up a water bar next to the cocktails to keep guests hydrated

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Food

Serving tasty food doesn’t mean spending all day and afternoon in the kitchen prepping.  I stick to simple  appetizers (thank you Trader Joes) that can be warmed up and plated about 30 minutes before guests arrive.  I also keep all of the food to one- or two-bite sizes. This makes it easy for guests to chat and eat, without spilling or getting caught in an awkward moment!

Tip:  The food and drink stations should be set up in a figure 8.  This ensures no traffic jams, keeps the party flowing, and doesn’t leave baby (or another guest) in the corner!

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To stay true to the 60’s soiree vibe, I did some research and came across a fabulous menu for a swanky soiree! The go-to and ultra glam lady’s party menu had exotic dishes like chaffing dish meatballs, avocado dip, cheese logs, and anchovies – so exotic! I erred on the side of not so exotic and served up some of the classic appetizers on the menu: pigs in a blanket, chaffing dish meatballs (from IKEA), cheese puffs, and a cheese plate.

Tip: Offer some variety to make sure your gluten-free and vegetarian friends are satisfied with the food options.

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 When Alan and I moved into our new house, the first thought that crossed my mind was “this is a great house for a fondue party.”  Flash forward to 6 months and my idea was implemented.  I let my guests know the party was going to be a martini and fondue party to get everyone excited to dip and swirl their food.

mad men party dessert

No party is complete without dessert so I set up a dessert station with chocolate fondue, dried fruits, and a vintage samovar to serve tea.  Once guests the hang of it, the dipping and swirling is fun and helps create a topic of conversation.  It’s almost like a throwback to sitting around a camp fire and chatting away, only with chocolate.

Tip: Every party needs a standout dessert or item.  Opt for something fun like a cotton candy machine or get a chocolate fountain! You can find options that are just as affordable as a store bought cake.

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Dress Code

I’m a pro at dress up whether I’m hosting or attending a themed party.  A themed party sets the tone for the party – cocktail versus casual – but makes it more fab and fun.  It gives guests another thing to look forward to as the party gets closer.   A Mad Men themed soiree is sure to bring out fancy outfits all over the spectrum.

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 Even men brought their A-game to the party in dapper suits.  Proof that men get just as excited to play dress up!

mad men smirnoff

Event Styling: Annette Vartanian for A Vintage Splendor

The Party: Vintage bart cart and glassware | Crate & Barrel Fondue Sets

On me: Vintage Dress & Earrings | Hair by Play Hair Lounge

This post sponsored by Smirnoff; however all opinions are my own.

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2 Comments

  1. February 18, 2014 / 10:58 am

    Such a great themed party…who doesn’t love Mad Men, martinis and fondue!

    The vintage glasses are gorgeous, Annette.

    Great post. Looking forward to seeing more views of your new home!

    ~Megan (Sister Style)

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