Events

26 Easy and Tasty Cocktail Party Food and Drink Ideas

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Last Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Cocktail parties are a lot of fun—as long as you do all the planning beforehand. No one wants guests drinking on an empty stomach or going on liquor runs halfway through the get-together, right? These simple and sophisticated cocktail party food and drink ideas make prep work much less intimidating.

What is cocktail party food?

Food served at cocktail parties is special. You won’t find any heavy dishes or large portions at these events. Rather, the focus is on bite-sized foods you can eat with your fingers without making a mess. That means serving hors d’oeuvre (a fancy-sounding name for finger foods).

Cocktail parties are often elegant, semi-formal events. But that doesn’t mean you need to serve complicated and sophisticated foods that take a long time to prepare. It’s perfectly okay to serve both homemade starters and store-bought dips and appetizers.

Simple cocktail party food ideas

Get inspiration for your cocktail appetizer menu from this assortment of ideas.

1. Cocktail meatballs

deep fried meatballs in plate on black wooden table background.

Slow-cooking beef meatballs in grape jelly and ketchup yields a tender, sticky sweet appetizer. Serve on a toothpick.

2. Crab and corn fritters

Summer cocktail parties call for this finger food. It’s sweet, salty, and a perfect pairing for boozy drinks.

3. Zucchini fritters

For vegetarian party goers, fry up a batch of zucchini fritters. Serve them with a side of ranch or a dollop of sour cream.

4. Cheese truffles

Make small balls of goat, feta, and cream cheese. Then, roll them on a mix of chopped cashews and cranberries and dried thyme.

5. Miniature fish cakes

Small fish cakes are a great summer starter. With a squeeze of lemon or tartar sauce on the side, they’re even better.

6. Deviled eggs

Stuffed eggs with mustard and yolk in a plate.

A classic starter that never goes out of style, deviled eggs are easy to make, serve, and eat.

7. Salmon vol-au-vents

Stuff puff pastry circles with smoked salmon and a dollop of sour cream to make this French appetizer.

8. Roasted veggie bruschetta

Roasted bell peppers, tomato, and onions with toasted baguette slices and crumbled feta on top are a dreamy combination.

9. Sticky mini smokies

Coat mini smokies (also known as wieners) in barbeque sauce and serve on a toothpick.

10. Shrimp cocktail

For a more chic appetizer, display shrimp on a wide and shallow glass over a pool of cocktail sauce.

11. Vietnamese rice paper rolls

Hailing all the way from Vietnam, you won’t want to skip out on rice paper rolls stuffed with julienned carrots, mango slices, and shrimp for your summer party.

12. Cheesy bacon dip

Bacon Cheese Dip with vegetable sticks

You can cut some corners but still serve a delicious appetizer by mixing together cheese dip with fried bacon cubes. Serve with toast or crackers.

13. Smoked salmon crostini

Spread a generous layer of cream cheese over toasted ciabatta squares and top with smoked salmon.

14. Herby feta cheese

Cubed feta that’s been tossed in fresh dill and chili flakes makes for a refreshing quick snack.

15. Spinach artichoke dip

Whether you’re making spinach artichoke dip at home or opting for store-bought, your guests are bound to love it.

16. Blue cheese-stuffed mushrooms

Another vegetarian-friendly appetizer, stuffed mushrooms are filling but still sophisticated. The blue cheese gives it that extra pizzaz.

17. Onion and mozzarella bruschetta 

Toasted bread with fresh mozzarella balls and caramelized onion: is there a more sophisticated yet simple and tasty starter?

18. Parmesan roast potato bites

roasted potatoes and fork on baking sheet.

Roast potato quarters until crispy then grate copious amounts of parmesan cheese on top. Serve with toothpicks or in small cups.

19. Cream cheese-stuffed dates

This unique hors d’oeuvre is perfect for cocktail parties. The sweetness from the date cuts the saltiness of the cream cheese and the walnut in the middle adds texture.

20. Baked brie

Finally, you can bake a wheel of brie until it just starts to melt and brown. Then, spoon fruit compote on top and let your guests dig it with crackers and pieces of toast.

Cocktail and other party drinks

You could stock a full bar and let your guests order their cocktails or choose just 2 or 3 drinks to have at hand. Either way, here are some beverages you can serve.

1. Classic martini

Martinis are one of those classic drinks you can’t go wrong with. Get good-quality gin, vermouth, and lemons and you’re set.

2. Gin and tonic

G&T is another classic. There’s so much you can do with them, although the base drink calls for just gin and tonic. Don’t forget a seasonal garnish.

3. Peach margarita

Set up the blender to make refreshing margaritas with a twist. Use ice, tequila, triple sec, lime juice, sugar, and peaches if they’re in season.

4. Pomegranate Manhattan

This sweet cocktail pairs perfectly with hearty starters. It calls for bourbon, angostura bitters, sugar, pomegranate juice, and maraschino cherries.

5. Wine

Red, rose and white wine in glasses on white background, top view. Wine bar, shop, winery, wine tasting concept. Hard light and harsh shadows (Red, rose and white wine in glasses on white background.

Although wine isn’t a cocktail, it’s always welcomed at cocktail parties. Be it white, rosé, or red, it’s a good break from heavier liqueurs.

6. Cranberry party punch

Not everyone might want to drink alcohol, which is why it’s wise to keep mocktails at hand. Mix non-alcoholic sparkling cider, cranberry juice, and ginger ale to serve in cocktail-like glasses.

Getting the food and drink quantities right for a cocktail party

Nothing ruins a cocktail party quicker than not having enough food or drinks for your guests. That’s why it’s important to plan things right from the start.

Cocktail party foods don’t have to replace a full meal. However, if you’re hosting around lunchtime or suppertime and not serving a full meal, make sure there’s enough food to make everyone full. That’s around 1lb of food per person, or 15 appetizers, to be safe.

In terms of drink, budget 2 or 3 cocktails per guest. Make sure to serve plenty of water and some non-alcoholic drinks, too.

Plan your cocktail party stress-free

Planning a party should be exciting, not stressful. If you don’t like doing last-minute grocery runs, get a head start by ordering what you need via Instacart. All it takes is a few clicks, and you’ll get your party supplies delivered straight to your doorstep.

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