Just because New Year’s Eve parties are largely canceled this year doesn’t mean you have to watch the ball drop at midnight alone. Grab the streamers, noise makers and party hats and send out an Evite for a virtual soirée. DC-area catering company Design Cuisine knows a thing or two about festive gatherings, having catered every presidential inauguration lunch since George H.W. Bush and events for the U.S. State Department, National Gallery of Art, Mount Vernon and more. Executive chef Shannon Shaffer gives some tips on how to make a Zoom NYE party almost as fun as being all together in person.
What tips do you have for hosting a virtual NYE gathering?
We are strong believers that good food unites us; for virtual events, we suggest either all ordering from the same caterer or restaurant to have the same meal delivered or creating a shared menu. This way you can all be tasting and enjoying the same delicious meal, just as if you were in person together.
What are some ways to make things more personal?
Have some fun with your NYE meal by adding experiential items to the menu. Virtual events can be a little strange, so having an activity can help make the event flow and be a bit more personal, such as a wine tasting to do prior to your meal. We love the idea of creating a signature cocktail (see below) or beverage that all guests can enjoy and toast (virtually) together–you can even name the cocktail after your family or organization.
Apple Brandy Cocktail
Recipe courtesy of Design Cuisine
This cocktail uses easy-to-find ingredients and is built in the glass, so no shaker is required. You can use a different type of bitters if you prefer, and even swap out the apple brandy for Cognac, Bourbon or rye.
1 white or Sugar in the Raw sugar cube
½ orange slice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 ½ oz. apple brandy
Lemon twist, for garnish
Muddle the sugar cube, bitters and orange slice in the bottom of a rocks glass, adding a few drops of water to dissolve the sugar if needed. Place one large ice cube in glass, add apple brandy and stir with a spoon to incorporate the sugar mix into the brandy. Twist the lemon peel over the top of the glass and drop it in.
What challenges exist with this type of celebration and how can guests and hosts address them?
If you are planning to feed all your guests in various locations, the logistics of this can be a challenge. Make sure to plan ahead, especially if you are mailing or getting something delivered to your guests for the celebration. There could be added delays this year, so start planning as early as possible.
Any other tips or advice?
This year, more than ever, we are not rushing around between holiday parties and families. Make your NYE meal feel special with several courses served one at a time, and take the time to sit and enjoy each course with those both in person and virtually. You have likely had a stressful year filled with lots of home cooking, so consider letting the professionals do the heavy lifting so you can enjoy yourself and let your guests relax as well. Plus, you will be supporting a local business during these difficult times.
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