The Cocktail Party

Eat Drink Play Recover

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When A-listers want to host a standout event, they call New York caterer Mary Giuliani. Her motto? Eat. Drink. Play. Recover. She prefers a “simple yet special” approach to entertaining but still manages to make the ordinary extraordinary. Now Mary is sharing all her secrets, along with tried-and-true planning tips, inventive menus, whimsical recipes, and delicious stories—everything you need to know to get your ducks in a row—and your pigs in their blankets!—to stage the perfect party for a range of special occasions, including

• New Year’s Eve: Banana Pancake Bites, Mini Kale and Fontina Breakfast Pies, and Champagne Jell-O
• Game Day: MACO (Mac and Cheese Taco) with Guacamole, Banoffee Cream Pie in a Mug, and Beergaritas
• Awards Season: Chicken Satay, Edamame Dumplings, and Easiest Champagne Drink Ever
• Cinco de Mayo: Spicy Pigs, Sweet Quesadilla Bites, and Grapefruit-Jalapeño Margaritas
• Thanksgiving: Turkey with Cranberry on Mini Pumpkin Muffins, Mashed Potato Popovers with Mozzarella, and Tipsy Turkey Martinis
• Christmas: Mini Grilled Cheese with Fontina and OTTO Black Truffle Honey, Baked Italian Mini Doughnuts, and Italian Eggnog

Each party theme comes with a festive Snacktivity that turns your favorite foods and toppings into an eye-popping set piece (think frittata bar, soup-sipping station, DIY grilled cheese party). Mary also offers up Big Stories to get the conversation flowing, a Party Calculator to plan how much to buy and prep per guest, and advice for stocking your Party Closet so you can quickly turn a casual drop-by into a fabulous time. Whether you host get-togethers once a week or once a year, this handy guide has all you need to eat, drink, and be, well, Mary.

Praise for Mary Giuliani and The Cocktail Party

“All-encompassing but never fussy, clever but never pretentious, Mary’s approach to food and entertaining is warm and familiar without ever sacrificing on quality and sophistication.”—Ariel Foxman, editorial director, InStyle

“Mary pulls it all together with effortless panache, and all I can ever remember the next day—besides the fact that I drank too much—is how delicious everything was and how much fun I had.”—Jonathan Van Meter, author and contributing editor, Vogue and New York

Under the Cover

An excerpt from The Cocktail Party

Chapter 1



Turkey with Cranberry on Mini Pumpkin Muffins

Mashed Potato Popovers with Mozzarella

Mini Pecan & Rosemary Pies

Mini Pumpkin-Caramel Brownies


Tipsy Turkey Martini

Cider House Rules


How to Set a Less Is More Bar

Soup Sipping Station

Mini Pie/Brownie Stand


Hangover Kit Assembly

To be perfectly honest, I’ve only catered one Thanksgiving in my entire career, and it was a disaster (we’ll get to that story shortly). However, it taught me two very important things about Thanksgiving entertaining: First, less is more, something you never hear when it comes to Thanksgiving. Second, Thanksgiving should be spent with family, friends, or loved ones, not with a caterer. If you cringe thinking about a long, drawn-­out meal with heated family discussions around the dinner table, then a Cocktail Party Thanksgiving is perfect for you, since there’s no dining room table required for it. If this concept scares you completely and entertaining without sitting at a table just will not cut it for your Thanksgiving gathering, then use this party as a fun night of thanks with your pals, pre-­Thanksgiving recipe testing, or a gratitude party. While these recipes and ideas are great for Thanksgiving, they can also serve as a template for all your fall cocktail parties. Good luck, and gobble gobble!



PS: If you’re scared to try my Turkey with Mini Pumpkin Muffins that were featured in People magazine (how’s that for a shameless plug?) Don’t sweat it. Take the pressure off yourself and relish the comfort of knowing that in addition to it being a day of gratitude, it is also a day where disastrous entertaining mistakes are being made throughout the country. So roll up those sleeves and get baking.

Turkey with Cranberry on Mini Pumpkin Muffins

These muffins are a great way to use up leftover turkey or celebrate the flavors of Thanksgiving any time of year. You can also spice them up by using a jalapeño-cranberry sauce for a little kick. Another great use of leftover turkey is a turkey, Brie, and cranberry grilled cheese.

Yield: 24 mini muffins

Prep time: 15 minutes • Cooking time: 20 minutes

1.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 12-­cup nonstick mini muffin pans and set aside. If you do not have two muffin pans, then please repeat twice to make 24 pieces.

2.In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside.

3.In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, milk, oil, and eggs and blend. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.

4.Fill the muffin cups three-­quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes.

5.Let cool for 20 minutes. Once cool, remove the muffins from the pan and slice each muffin in half horizontally.

6.Place sliced turkey and a dollop of cranberry sauce on the bottom halves and close with the muffin tops.

7.Serve on a small platter or pass as a small bite.

1¼cups all-­purpose flour

½cup dark brown sugar

1teaspoon baking powder

1teaspoon baking soda

½teaspoon salt

½teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼teaspoon ground nutmeg

¾cup canned pumpkin

2/3cup whole milk

½cup vegetable oil

2eggs, beaten

4 to 6 slices leftover turkey

One 14-ounce can cranberry sauce 

Party Prep Playlist 

“Sing for Your Supper” (The Mamas & Papas), “Aint No Mountain High Enough” (Diana Ross), “Charlie Brown” Thanksgiving Theme (Vince Guaraldi), “The Thanksgiving Song” (Adam Sandler), “Thanks for the Memory” (Ella Fitzgerald), “Gratitude” (Earth, Wind & Fire), “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (The Monkees), “Thank You” (Sly and the Family Stone), “Thank You” (Led Zeppelin), “Shelter from the Storm” (Bob Dylan), “Stick with Me” (Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers), “Harvest Moon” (Neil Young)

Mashed Potato Popovers with Mozzarella

This is a variation on a recipe passed down by my Aunt Carol’s Aunt Minnie. I love anything with melted cheese in it, and the first time my aunt served these at Thanksgiving, I was hooked. The bread crumbs and Parmesan give the potatoes a delcious crisp crust. A real crowd-pleaser.

Yield: 24 popovers

Prep time: 20 minutes • Cooking time: 20 minutes

1.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 12-­cup mini muffin pans with olive oil.

2.In a large bowl, add the mashed potatoes, parsley, Parmesan, egg yolks, milk, ½ cup of the mozzarella (save the rest for topping), and 1∕3 cup of the bread crumbs (save the rest for topping). Stir together and season with the salt and pepper.

3.With a mini (25mm) ice cream scoop, portion the mashed potato mixture into the muffin pans.

4.Top with the remaining mozzarella and the bread crumbs.

5.Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is melted and golden brown.

6.Serve on a small decorative platter or pass as a small bite.

3cups cooked mashed potatoes

2teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

2teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

2egg yolks, lightly beaten

1teaspoon whole milk

1cup shredded low-­moisture mozzarella

¼cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

1teaspoon each salt and pepper

Extra-­virgin olive oil

Mini Pecan & Rosemary Pies

Mini pies are a perfect party dessert, as you can pop them in your mouth without a fork.

Yield: 24 mini pies

Prep time: 50 minutes • Cooking time: 20 minutes

1.For the pastry dough: In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.

2.Using a pastry cutter, mix the cold butter into the flour mixture until it looks like wet sand.

3.Add the egg and work it into the butter mixture until just combined.

4.Use your hands to lightly press the clumps of dough into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add another tablespoon of cold water. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

5.For the filling: Make it while the dough rests. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt. Add the rosemary and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute and turn off the heat. Let the mixture steep for at least 10 minutes. The longer it steeps, the stronger the flavor will be.

6.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 12-­cup mini muffin pans with butter and refrigerate.

7.Between two pieces of parchment or wax paper, roll the dough to ¼ inch thick. Use a 2½-­inch circle cutter to cut out 24 rounds. Work each round into the wells of the muffin pans. Chill for 30 minutes.

8.Toast the pecans for 10 minutes on a baking sheet. Coarsely chop three-quarters of the nuts, leaving the rest whole.

9.Remove the rosemary from the sugar mixture and lightly beat in the eggs.

10.Add the chopped pecans and pour the filling into the prepared pans. Place 1 whole pecan on the top of each tart and bake for 20 minutes.

11.Remove the pies from the pans and let them cool on a rack.

12. Serve on a small platter or tiered stand or as part of the Mini Pie/Brownie Stand snactivity (see page 24).

Pastry Dough

1½cups all-­purpose flour

2tablespoons granulated sugar

¾teaspoon salt

7tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1egg, lightly beaten

2tablespoons cold water


½ cup dark brown sugar

6tablespoons honey

2tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional for buttering pans

¼teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8teaspoon salt

4fresh rosemary sprigs

½cup pecans


Mini Pumpkin-Caramel Brownies

Yield: 24 brownies

Prep time: 15 minutes • Cooking time: 30 minutes

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 x 13-­inch pan.

2.For the brownies: Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler, stirring occasionally. When smooth, let cool slightly.

3.In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the chocolate mixture, and once it is thoroughly combined, add the flour. Set aside.

4.For the pumpkin swirl: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, softened cream cheese, and pumpkin.

5.In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix into the pumpkin mixture. Set aside.

6.For the caramel: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to medium-­high heat to just before a boil and then reduce to a simmer. The mixture will begin to melt and brown around the edges. Swirl slightly to combine.

7.Once the mixture is caramel in color and liquid, at about 325°F, remove from the heat and add the heavy cream and vanilla. The mixture will boil up. Whisk together until smooth and then stir in the salt. Set aside and allow to cool.

8.Pour the brownie batter into the pan and then pour the pumpkin swirl as a layer on top.

9.Slowly drizzle horizontal lines of caramel across the top of the pumpkin batter. Space the lines about ½ inch apart to make a grid.

10.With a knife, pull the lines vertically to create a diamond pattern. Repeat every ½ inch.

11. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator. Cut into bite-­size brownies (about 2 inches square).

12.Serve on a small platter or tiered stand by themselves or as part of the Mini Pie/Brownie Stand snactivity (see page 24).

- About the author -

Mary Giuliani is a party and lifestyle expert and owner of Mary Giuliani Catering and Events. She has maintained a loyal client roster that includes J.Crew, Vogue, the Rolling Stones, Bradley Cooper, Stella McCartney, Carolina Herrera, HBO, and many more. Mary has appeared on Today, Good Morning America, and Barefoot Contessa, among other national media. Mary splits her time between New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood and Woodstock, New York, with her husband Ryan, and daughter, Gala.

More from Mary Giuliani

The Cocktail Party

Eat Drink Play Recover


The Cocktail Party

— Published by Ballantine Books —