French Cocktail Hour parties
The French government, along with the Cheeses of France Marketing Council, sponsored "1,000 French Cocktail Hour Parties" across the United States last June. Started six years ago, the cocktail parties promote France's two main exports: Wine and cheese. Everyone is welcome to host their own French Cocktail Hour Party -- whether on June 4th, July 14 (Bastille Day) or any other day of the year! -- and the following cocktail party tips make it easy and delicious.
Set the theme
The theme of this cocktail party is simply all things France. The decorations, food, drinks and even topics of conversation should center on French culture.
To help everyone get in the mood, have your guests dress in berets or the national French colors of blue, white and red. And when guests arrive, give them nametags with French names that are translations or equivalents to their English names. Play French music to get the vibe going.
Decorate your home in the most notable French décor. Put up the French flag or large photos of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and other landmarks.
Paris is known as "The City of Lights," so put up twinkly holiday lights around the party area, along with lots of fresh flowers to represent the countrysides around France. If you have room, set up café tables with chairs so guests feel as though they are in a Parisian sidewalk café.
Serve French drinks
Champagne and wine are the classic drinks of France. You also can serve traditional French cocktails, such as a French martini or a French 77.
Absinthe, legal again in the United States, is another classic French drink, giving you the opportunity to prepare a licorice-flavored cocktail. Pernod with water and Pompiers is also a traditional French cocktail that will give your party an old Paris vibe.
For those who aren't drinking alcohol, serve café au lait or cappuccino. If you and your guests are into wine, host a French wine tasting with reds, whites, rosés and Champagnes. (Visit SamsWine.com and iGourmet.com for coupons for wines and spirits and more cocktail ideas)
Feast on French foods
Cheeses are the most classic of French foods, so have plenty of Brie, Camembert, Chevre and other French varieties on hand. If cheese is a favorite among your guests, host a cheese tasting (appropriately paired with wines) with lots of different French cheeses. A blind tasting, in which guests guess the type of cheese, can be fun as well. Get tips on how to create a great fruit & wine plate here!
Other French classics are caviar, escargot and foie gras -- but if these are too upscale, go with croissants, fresh baguettes, crepes, mini tarts and other French-inspired treats.
For dessert, bake mini crème brulees, éclairs, Napoleons or a mousse for a simple, sweet ending.
Play French trivia
To wrap up the evening, play a French trivia game. Ask questions about historical facts and figures from French culture. Facts about French movies, film stars, travel trivia, Napoleon, authors and books are good topics. Make it fun with prizes like a bottle of French wine or a block of French cheese.
For more information on French Cocktail Hour, visit House Party 21.