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The following extract from Lilian Mattingly's 'Complete Cookery' (1948) will provide you with all the tricks needed to recreate a 1940s cocktail party complete with beverage recipes and management tips!


Lilian Mattingly, 1948

This is one of the easiest ways of entertaining people to whom one owes hospitality, and is particularly useful because close friends and acquaintances can equally suitably be asked. Indeed, one of the first rules for a successful cocktail party seems to be that it should be as crowded as possible.

Actually the cocktail party is now more often than not a sherry party - sherry having rather ousting cocktails in popularity. But the best thing to do is to provide both. Don't forget lemonade and barley water or iced coffee for people who drink neither sherry nor cocktails.

Six o'clock is the usual time for a cocktail party, and as many of your guests, if they happen to be going on to a theatre afterwards, will cut out dinner, provide plenty of accessories. These can include tiny cooked sausages (each with a little stick so it can be eaten in the fingers), small cooked new potatoes, minute sausage rolls and tiny pastry cases filled with a variety of savoury mixtures. In addition to these one can buy plain biscuits and fill them with caviare, anchovy, sardines, shrimps or prawns. Olives, potato crisps and salted almonds are always popular.

Have one of the more popular cocktails, such as Bronx, ready mixed before your guests arrive. The rest can be mixed as they are wanted, though, if the party is a big one, it is as well to have someone who will busy himself all the time with the mixing.

For an average party of twenty, a bottle of dry Sherry together with one of a sweeter type will be enough with a bottle of gin and one each of French and Italian Vermouth for the cocktails. With the last three you can make the following:

Bronx. - The juice of a quarter of an orange, a quarter of Italian Vermouth, a quarter of French Vermouth, half of Dry Gin.

Mixed Vermouth. - Half of French Vermouth, half of Italian Vermouth.

Gin and It. - Two thirds of Italian Vermouth, one third of Gin.

Both Sidecar and White Lady are good, but for one of these you will need also a bottle of Cointreau and one of brandy.

Sidecar. - A quarter of lemon juice, a quarter of Cointreau and half of brandy.

White Lady. - A quarter of lemon juice, a quarter of Cointreau and half of gin.

Cocktails are generally served with a maraschino cherry on a stick in each glass.

If the party is a very large one, it is sometimes possible to arrange with your wine merchant that any unopened bottles of spirits will be allowed for on the bill.


Original Tip/Article for 'A Cocktail Party'

‘BOOK 8’: Complete Cookery (1943)

Author: Lilian Mattingly

Publisher: C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd. (Tower House, Southampton Street, Strand, W.C.2, London, England, U.K.)

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