Holiday Cocktail Party Cheer!

Food & Drink / Stories / December 10, 2014

Created by Hy-Vee Cheese Specialist David Goff

Whether it’s a mixer or reception for social or business networking, the cocktail party is a fun, festive way to spend time with family and friends during the holidays.

The star of the show is usually the cocktail, but delicious finger foods are a close second, making it easy to mingle and move from conversation to conversation.


Photos by Keith Borgmeyer

Sometimes a prelude to a dinner or work function and other times the main event, the cocktail party has a long history in American society and culture. The invention of the cocktail party is credited to Julius S. Walsh of St. Louis, Mo., who invited 50 guests to her house on Lindell Boulevard on Sunday at high noon in 1917.

This article on that cocktail party appeared in The Kansas City Star on March 30, 1917:

“The party scored an instant hit. Mrs. Walsh’s home is equipped with a private bar. Around this the guests gathered and gave their orders to a white coated professional drink mixer who presided behind the polished mahogany. If a woman guest who has been driving all forenoon in her limousine, and was a little chilled in consequence, felt the need of a drink with an extra kick in it, she ordered a Sazarac cocktail. Others of course, preferred a Bronx or a Clover Leaf, and a few who had been to church were old fashioned enough to order a martini or a Manhattan. 

And as long as the professional drink mixer was there to fill all orders, other beverages than cocktails were in demand. Highballs, some with Scotch and some with rye or Bourbon Whisky, gin fizzes, were ordered because the spring morning hinted of coming summer, and at least one mint julep for a former gentleman of Virginia, were handed out over the private bar. 

Was so merry and so jolly as to approach in hilarity the famous early morning eggnog parties popular in the same city a decade ago. 

In the meantime Mrs. Walsh, because of her innovation, has become more of a social celebrity in St. Louis than ever.”

Devan Netcott and J.J. Williams, hosts of the HER Magazine party

Devan Netcott and J.J. Williams, hosts of the HER Magazine party

The cocktail party was also commonplace in the 50s and 60s. One of the most famous cocktail party scenes comes from the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” starring Dustin Hoffman as Ben Braddock. His parents throw a party for him after he graduates from college and there’s martinis and satire galore as director Mike Nichols focuses on the underbelly or darker side of this type of gathering.

The event went out for a while as people thronged to bars, which they still do. But the cocktail party is definitely back in fashion.

HER Magazine held its own version of the cocktail party. Hosted by Devan Netcott, a floral designer and home décor consultant at Hy-Vee, and J.J. Williams, a sous chef at O’Donoghue’s Steaks and Seafood, their airy loft on Jefferson City’s High Street and open kitchen/living room served as a perfect backdrop for guests to mingle and converse.

Holiday menu

Hy-Vee Chef Gerardo Hernandez

Hy-Vee Chef Gerardo Hernandez

Hy-Vee Chef Gerardo Hernandez designed the menu of delicious hors d’ oeuvres.

  • Cheese Platter / Fresh Fruit / Dry Fruit / Nuts
  • Gazpacho in Cucumber Cup garnished with sweet & spicy powder and chive straws
  • Grilled Shrimp Crostini with a bell pepper compote and mango peach salsa
  • Open Faced Pork Sandwich topped w/ salsa
  • Mini gourmet cupcakes

Cheese Tray:

  • Prima Donna Maturo Aged Gouda
  • Marieke Gouda with cumin
  • Beemster Mustard Gouda
  • La Bonne Vie Goat spread pyramid
  • Stilton cheddar with blueberry
  • Stilton cheddar with cranberries
  • English cheddar with bits of toffee, dates and raisins
  • Port Salut, a French velvety and creamy cheese that tastes like munster
  • Cotswold Double Glouceshire with chives and onions

Holiday recipes

Crostini with Grilled Shrimp and Mango Peach Salsa



½ cup diced mango

½ cup diced peach

¼ cup diced red bell pepper

¼ cut diced green

bell pepper

Juice of one lime

Salt and pepper to taste



1 baguette

Melted butter


(Mix well in a bowl)


Cut the baguettes in ¼ inch thick slices (better to use old baguettes, they cut better). Brush baguettes with butter and sprinkle paprika on top put the cut baguettes on a cookie sheet and put it in a 300 degree oven for 7 to 8 minutes.



21 pounds of cleaned shrimp

3 T Oriental Sweet and Sour Sauce, Hy-Vee brand or Frank’s red Hot Sweet

Chii Cilantro for garnish


Spray a hot grill with nonstick spray and grill the shrimp for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they change color. Remove from heat, let cool and mix with HOW MUCH sweet and sour sauce.

To assemble:

Place crostini on a plate and top with salsa and shrimp. Garnish with cilantro.


Gxazpacho in a European Cucumber Cup


2 ¼ cup of diced tomatoes, remove seeds

¼ cup of sliced, green onion

2 cups of diced cucumber, remove seeds

½ cut of diced red bell pepper

¼ cup of diced green bell pepper

¼ cup of diced mango

¼ cup of diced peach

2 cups of tomato juice

Juice of 1 ½ limes

Salt and pepper to taste


In a bowl mix all ingredients well. Chill overnight for the flavors to mix well.

Chili powder for around the rim


¼ c of paprika

1/8 of a cup of chili powder

3 tablespoons of salt

½ cup of sugar

(Mix well) 

European Cucumber

Cut cucumber into 1 inch pieces and remove the inside leaving 1/8 of an inch around and on the bottom to hold the gazpacho. One cucumber yields 5 to 6 pieces.

To assemble:

Dip the cucumber in the chili powder and fill it with the gazpacho. Garnish with the chives.


Grilled Pork Loin with an Apple Chipotle Salsa on a Baguette

Grilled Pork Loin 


1 pork loin cut long ways

Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder

1 cup apple juice

Season the pork loin and sear it on all sides. Place it in a pan and add apple juice. Cover with plastic and foil wrap. Put it in a 300 degree oven for 45 minutes. Check for internal temperature (it’s done when it reaches 160 degrees. When done cut the pork loin into thin slices.



2 cups of apple pie  filling mix

1 cup of fresh salsa

3 chipotle peppers


Put all the ingredients in a food process and blend to desired consistency

To assemble:

Cut the baguettes at an angle, ¼ inch thick

Put slice of pork loin on top and add salsa, garnish with chives.

Alvin Leifeste

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