When it comes to throwing a cocktail party, entertaining is sometimes easier said than done. Unless you have some expert guidance. Enter Dan Scott and Marie Buck, founders of Los Angeles-based cocktail catering company The Whaling Club. Known for throwing rolicking good parties around the city—complete with delicious drinks, of course—The Whaling Club has entertaining down to a tee. We chatted with Scott for some of his top hosting tips.
Develop a cohesive idea. “We believe in the influence of design,” says Scott. “Whether you’re hosting a Polynesian tiki party, or a lavish Oscar’s party, your guests will appreciate the time and effort you spend creating a well thought-out concept.”
Keep your freezer clean. “We don’t keep anything in our freezer, other than a single piece of wedding cake that we’re saving for our first wedding anniversary,” says Scott. “This will keep your ice from absorbing any unwanted odors. Ice tends to be the star at our parties, so we have a 5-cubic-foot chest freezer full of hand-cut, clear, block ice. We shake and stir all of our drinks with block ice, so having it on hand is crucial when making 75+ drinks on a given night. Plus, it allows us to store all of our glassware in our conventional freezer.”
Actively “host” your guests. “We don’t spend a ton of time relaxing at our cocktail parties,” says Scott. “We are constantly checking in with guests and making sure they’re enjoying themselves. Working the room, offering fresh cocktails, bussing dirty glassware and introducing guests to others they might find interesting, all keep guests stimulated. And when the party is over, we always make it out to one of our favorite late-night spots to kick back and relax before last call.”
Create flow and ambiance. “Guests naturally gravitate toward the food and drinks,” says Scott. “Serving food and drinks in two different rooms can help break up a cluster of guests. We create several seating arrangements in various shapes and sizes so guests can chat in a large group or sneak out to our table for two on the patio. Setting the vibe of the evening through background music and soft lighting will keep guests comfortable even when they’re searching for that next conversation.”
Give thanks. “We always take a moment at every event to thank our guests for joining us,” says Scott. “We gather together in our living room, say a few words about the night’s menu and theme, acknowledge any special guests, and then we make a toast to all of the adventurous people who attended The Whaling Club.”