Feature

How to throw the perfect New Year's Eve cocktail party

You can do better than generic Champagne and cocktail wieners

Cork pops. Party hats. Gold and silver streamers.

Your New Year's Eve party shouldn't feel like any old Wednesday night. It should be downright sparkling, from the food, drinks, and company to the way you deck yourself and your table.

(More from Tasting Table: Holiday recipes and tips)

And that also brings us to what it shouldn't be: heavy lifting for the host. So our New Year's Eve cocktail party menu lets you maximize mingling and merrymaking.

The drinks
On 12/31, it's all about bubbles. Sure, you could just uncork a few bottles, but consider a sparkling wine cocktail to ring in the New Year ever so festively. Drinks Editor Jim Meehan shares three cocktails: Kick off your evening with the SpritzZ (see the recipe), a light, fizzy take on the Aperol Spritz. Give guests a memorable end to 2014 with the elegant, complex Rosé-Tinted Glass (see the recipe). And if the party rages on 'til the break of dawn, mix up a few White Mimosas (see the recipe), an elevated take on the classic brunch drink, in the morning.

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The food
You want people mingling, laughing, and dancing, not trapped at the table. And you also want a spread that's as distinctive as it is effortless. Spiced olives (see the recipe); roasted almonds with crisp, fragrant fried herbs (see the recipe); and an update on open-the-packet-and-stir onion dip (see the recipe) are perfect for nibbling — and can all be made ahead. But since you do want your guests to be standing upright when the ball drops, give 'em something a bit more substantial, too, like mini lamb meatballs served with pitas, onions, and herbs (see the recipe). They bake in about eight minutes, so you won't have to spend time in front of the stove — giving you more time to spend with fellow revelers.

(More from Tasting Table: What to give the cocktail enthusiast)

The scene
From sparkly cocktail stirrers to a top hat-topped Champagne stopper to a photo-ready kit that comes with glitter mustaches (to achieve the perfect #Happy2015 Instagram), we've compiled the tabletop pieces, bar gear, and decor essentials to make your soiree simply smashing (see the slideshow).

Get the recipes:
Roasted Almonds with Crispy Herbs
Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Green Raisin Pesto
Caramelized Onion Dip with Feta, Spinach and Walnuts
Spiced Olive Mix
White Mimosa
SpritzZ Cocktail
Rosé-Tinted Glass

Tasting Table is a culinary lifestyle brand that obsesses over what to eat and drink so you don't have to. It's like having a foodie best friend to distill the culinary world into must-do, must-eat, and must-know recommendations, on everything from the best Thai in the Village to the top tequila pours in Outer Mission. Hungry yet?

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