Planning a birthday party for a forty year old fraternity boy comes with its challenges. Especially when his older incarnation is a bit over the top (think 100 guests) and likes fine things. So my angle here was to channel all of the fun mixers we remember from college, but elevate the food and liquor to match our more refined adult palates. Throw in a snow cone machine (with homemade booze-laden syrups), long tables for flippy cups, a keg and photographer and it really felt like old times.
I of course am all about the food. In planning the menu I divided it into two parts; a well stocked noshing table for grazing throughout the event and a group of well edited passed hors d’oeuvres. To stay within my theme I used bar food as my starting point and inspiration for all menu planning. The table spread included pimento cheese pub spread, bacon wrapped bread-sticks (inside out “pigs-in-a-blanket”), my homage to Houston’s spinach artichoke dip, and a creative take on nachos – a spicy green chili and sausage cheesecake meant to be spread on chips and crackers.
For the passed hors d’oeuvres I made four varieties (pictured clockwise): beer-brat corn bites with honey mustard (corn dogs), blue cheese chicken salad stuffed cherry tomatoes with a buffalo sauce topper (buffalo chicken wings), mini grilled onion meatball burgers with ketchup and mustard gravy (hamburger sliders), and jalapeno and jack cheese chili-rellanos with red hatch sauce (jalapeno poppers). The Rellanos and Brat Corn Bites were made in advance and frozen. For the Sliders I made them earlier that day, a reheated them with ketchup and mustard gravy, and used a crock pot to keep them warm for handy assembling. The Chicken Salad was also made earlier that day and the tomatoes stuffed right before serving. The buffet was set out before the guests arrived. Accordingly the servers simply had to replenish througout the evening and circulate hors d’oeuvres. This allowed me to enjoy my party.
Other fun touches included mongrammed cocktail napkins and matches, a giant photo collage of the birthday boy throughout the years, a music mix of late eighties and ninties hits, and a late night impromptu dance party (don’t ask).
photography by project captured – www.pjcgallery.com