Host your best-ever cocktail party with dishes and tips by Gourmet Traveller and Winning Appliances. Martini anyone?
When it comes to entertaining, the kitchen is the new dining room and a relaxed style is the new black.
Guests enjoy nothing more than pulling up a stool at the island bench to chat while you cook, making this the ideal way to serve a series of shared plates and drinks.
For a Japanese-style cocktail party, for instance, kick things off with a large platter of super-fresh sashimi, mixing it up with salmon and tuna, say, served with julienned daikon (unless you have the knife skills of a Japanese chef, use a Japanese mandolin for this, and place the daikon briefly in iced water to crisp it up).
Of course, it's no party without drinks. Sake is always a sympathetic partner to seafood, and you can glam it up for cocktail hour in a Saketini - a Martini with sake in place of the vermouth. Just add a green olive for garnish, or a ribbon of cucumber for a refreshing twist.
Next serve a round of chicken tsukune, while you eat flash-grill teriyaki-glazed bonito, both on easy-to-eat sticks. Beer works well with both of these or try something a little richer: mix umeshu, a sake-based ume liqueur, with sweet vermouth and lemon juice.
With a main course of Japanese prawns and rice with hot spring eggs, keep things simple yet elegant with wine, perhaps an aromatic skin-fermented semillon.
For extra fun, set up a help-yourself bar at the end of the bench for guests to make their own drinks. Kampai!
This article was brought to you by Winning Appliances