Tasting Table's Dinner Parties

Spring is prime time for an airy cocktail party. The star of this get-together is a light, herb-driven menu, showcasing an array of small plates and bites ideal for eating while your guests mingle. Smoked-trout deviled eggs, chicken skewers and a crispy artichoke salad with pancetta create a bounty to display on a table or sideboard. A colorful tea service paired with simple herbal-tea-and-sugar-edged cookies wraps an easygoing gathering on a deliciously sweet note. Warm weather, you're welcome to stick around. (Photo Credits: William Hereford)

A variation on the classic gin cocktail The Last Word, The Final Say combines Green Chartreuse (an herbal liquor that has been made in France by Carthusian monks since 1605) with rum, Cointreau and lime juice. Serve in tumblers, and in place of a swizzle stick, add a length of celery to each glass.

The Final Say
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 1 cocktail

1½ ounces white rum
1 ounce Green Chartreuse
¼ ounce orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
Ice
Celery stalk

In a cocktail shaker, combine the rum, Chartreuse, orange liqueur, lime juice and ice. Cover, shake and strain into a cocktail glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with the celery stalk and serve.

Click here for the printable recipe.


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Plus, enjoy a bonus drink recipe for Tarragon Spritzers, available on our Facebook page.

For this informal gathering, dishes and décor from our partner, West Elm, complemented the brightness of the menu: Think picnic green flatware ($34) and pale, grassy-toned small plates ($32).

Knowing guests dine on a spread of dishes, choose beautifully designed yet neutral-toned serving platters. Then, some color is in order, including a multicolored tea set and a metallic serving tray ($12) for cocktails. With such a colorful, herb-driven menu, flax-colored linens ($28) are a great way to draw your guests' gaze toward the vibrant hues on the table.

Do mix and matched textures, as with this bamboo serving tray and bowl ($16), to keep the table setting from being too uniform. To add visual interest and play off the menu, decorate the space with sprouting fresh herbs, from pots of wheatgrass to jars of fresh tarragon and mint.


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For the day's soundtrack, we selected tunes that feel fresh, bright or dreamy--and sometimes all three. Begin the party by highlighting newcomers with old souls (Raphael Saadiq and Wild Belle), then move into dreamlike, transporting tracks from The Antlers, Washed Out and Beach House. Sprinkle in some classics from Candi Stanton and The Zombies, too, plus soothing melodies from Ali Farka Touré and The Black Hollies. For a sweet, old-school ending, wrap up with signatures from Sam Cooke, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

Use this hour-long playlist (click here to find it on iTunes) as an outline, then supplement it with favorite tracks, old and new, that evoke the season and make you smile.
  • "100 Yard Dash"--Raphael Saadiq 
  • "Take Me Away"--Wild Belle 
  • "I'm Just a Prisoner"--Candi Stanton 
  • "Stone Rollin'"-- Raphael Saadiq
  • "French Exit"--The Antlers 
  • "Amor Fati"--Washed Out 
  • "Printemps"--Coeur de Pirate 
  • "Heretics"--Andrew Bird
  • "Everybody Loves the Sunshine"--Seu Jorge and Almaz
  • "Time of the Season"--The Zombies
  • "Soukora"--Ali Farke Touré & Ry Cooder
  • "Myth"--Beach House 
  • "Everything's Fine"--The Black Hollies
  • "Comme des Enfants"--Coeur de Pirate 
  • "Wonderful World"--Sam Cooke
  • "Dream a Little Dream of Me"--Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

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