26 Easy and Tasty Cocktail Party Food and Drink Ideas
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Grab it now on Instacart:
Most Recent in Events
20 Perfect Anniversary Cake Ideas, Designs, and Themes
Anniversaries are important milestones, and many opt to celebrate their love and commitment with celebrations. Whether your event is small or large, an anniversary cake is a staple found at most anniversary celebrations. Below we…...Apr 28, 2022
Easy Game Day Food Ideas Your Guests Are Sure to Love
There’s nothing quite like hosting a gathering of family and friends to watch the big game. While football is the main attraction, the food always comes in a close second. Don’t stress about what you’ll…...Mar 28, 2022
24 Beach Food Ideas & Recipes for Your Next Vacation
Few things are better than a day at the beach or a beach vacation. It's important to stay fueled out on the sand and choose suitable food for your beach adventure. Naturally, you want food…...Mar 21, 2022