You only need three key things for a great dinner party: delectable food, flowing drinks, and stellar friends. But how do you add a little je ne sais quoi to your next soirée? From adding an unexpected twist to a cocktail, to trying new things with food (a bump of caviar?) there are plenty of ways you can hit a daring note at dinnertime.
1. Elevated Oysters
Take things up a notch with your oyster hors d’oeuvres and offer an unexpected approach to the condiment selection. “Instead of the expected lemon wedges, hot sauce or mignonette sauce, I find it far more fun to surprise my guests with little unmarked jars of various whiskies and gins, each with their own eyedropper, and have them experiment by adding a few drops of spirits to their oysters for a totally new twist,” says Allison Patel, founder of Brenne French Single Malt Whiskey. “My personal favorites are salty, Islay whiskies (like Bruichladdich, Ardbeg or Laphroaig) with East Coast oysters and more fruit and caramel-forward whiskies (like Balvenie, Brenne or Redbreast) with West Coast oysters.“
2. Bold Beauty
Try a daring beauty look the next time you head out for dinner, whether it be a bold lip, glitter shadow or an intricate updo. It’s a simple way to add a dashing effect to your night out on the town.
3. Set the Scene
Play up your surroundings by choosing an unpredictable place to hold your dinner party. Think a nighttime picnic or a seaside affair. Chef Francis Mallmann, who is known for bringing his cuisine into unconventional places, advises to go out and leave the normal behind. “It’s all about being made to feel with your surroundings and bringing about different visuals and colors. Allow the romance of your setting to overtake you.”
4. Serve It Up
5. Juxtaposed Presentation
Take another tip from Chef Mallmann, and juxtapose your food with the plating. He is known for cooking wondrous charred meats and vegetables on spits splayed across expanses of land. But how does he choose to serve them? In refined settings, on delicate plates and all-white table settings: “It’s not just about the food, it’s about all the elements of a dinner party. Do the unexpected.”
6. Floral Affair
Take your floral arrangements to the next level by adding uncommon touches, like pairing together avant garde colors or textures. “For a fresh alternative to normal greenery, add bay leaves or rosemary for an herbaceous fragrance that is sure to complement any meal.” says Callie Bladow, Production Director for BloomThat. “Have a flair for the dramatic? Add kumquats or pomegranates for a kick of color and structure.”
7. Sky High Style
8. Audacious Caviar
Why not have your guests try eating their food in a daring way? ‘Caviar bumps,’ fashioned at Chicago’s Maple & Ash, may be the chicest way to eat with your hands. “Our favorite people are welcomed into the wine cellar for a surprise before dinner. We ask them to make a fist, and we drop a pearl spoonful of our favorite caviar onto their hand. This is the caviar bump. Your hand gently warms the caviar a bit to ensure the utmost deliciousness, and you lift the caviar to your mouth to enjoy. No utensils. And of course, we follow every caviar ‘bump’ with a champagne ‘back,'” reveals Belinda Chang, Director of Wine and Service at the Windy City’s sexiest steakhouse.
Add a twist to your cocktail with alluring ingredients. The ultimate go-to? “Bitters!” says Percy Rodriguez, the Beverage Director at L’Amico. “It’s a solid way to add another level to any cocktail. Historically, these were considered a remedy for stomach ailments, but now they’re used in many facets of cocktail construction. Try Fee Brothers Orange Bitters in a classic Gin & Tonic. This combination will elevate the botanicals of the gin while bumping up the citrus of the tonic. If you’re feeling extra daring, find some Chocolate bitters and go crazy on a Manhattan Up, perfect for dessert.”
10. Playful Party Favours
Before your guests swing out the door, give them something unexpected to part with and remember the evening by. Think chic flasks full of their favorite liquor, or deconstructed elements from the floral arrangements for party goers to enjoy at home.