COLIN COWIE GIVES A WOWIE (of a party that is)

Party planning expert and Oprah friend Colin Cowie suggests that a cocktail party can be done whether it's planned in advance or thrown together at the last minute. Cowie believes one should never have to spend time away from guests; by preparing party elements ahead, the host should always be able to enjoy the party as a guest.  At a cocktail party, the drinks are an important element - you don't just want to serve boring wine or martinis You also want to think about the base of the drinks you serve - for example, you don't want to serve all rum-based drinks, or all vodka-based drinks. In summer, you should always offer fun, fruity alternatives, as well as a non-alcoholic option, too. The recipes below can all be made non-alcoholic. Cowie will also have a spread of different dips and salsas on hand. Several of them are home-made and several are store-bought. Rather than just putting the dips on a table, Cowie suggests serving them together in a large zinc tub filled with ice to keep them chilled. The assorted flatbreads to used with the dips can be served in a large terra cotta bowl that will be placed in the center of the tub. It's a simple idea, but a different set-up.
Here are Cowie's most important five elements for a successful cocktail party:

* Great drinks
* Great food
* Great music
* Fabulous ambiance
* Guests who show up on time, dressed elegantly , and with interesting stories to tell

The following are his recipes:

Serves 6

5 pounds seedless watermelon (about 1/2 medium size watermelon)
16 ounces lemonade, homemade or high quality
12 ounces vodka
Watermelon balls for garnish

1. Cut the watermelon flesh into chunks and working in batches, puree in a blender until liquefied. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the pulp - you should have about 4 cups of juice.

2. Combine the watermelon juice, lemonade and alcohol in a 2-quart pitcher.

3. Pour into a tall glass filled with ice and garnish with a melon wedge. Without the alcohol this makes a great children's drink.

Serves 2

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus 2 tablespoons for glasses (about 5 limes)
3/4 cup Coco Lopez or cream coconut
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons tequila
1/4 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss coconut with salt. Spread on sheet and toast in oven stirring frequently until golden brown - 8 -10 minutes. Let cool then crush with your hands until crumbly.

2. Pour 2 tablespoons lime juice in a shallow dish. Place coconut mixture in another dish. Dip rims of two cocktail glasses in lime juice, then in coconut mixture, coating well

3. Combine remaining ingredients with 1 cup ice in a blender and puree until smooth. Divide evenly between prepared glasses and serve immediately.


2 ripe mangoes, peeled and seeded
5 strawberries, cleaned and hulled
1 cup of dark or light rum
1 1/2 cups of ice
1 lime juice

1. In a blender, combine all ingredients with ice.
2. Blend until smooth and serve immediately.
3. Garnish with a cube of mango and strawberry on a toothpick.

Serves 1

1 1/2 oz of Pimm's No. 1
3 ounces of fresh lemonade
Club soda or sweet soda
English cucumber spear, for garnish
Apple slice for garnish

* Combine all ingredients in a highball glass and garnish with the English cucumber and apple.

Makes 6 servings

1 very large ripe pineapple, peeled cored and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups gold rum
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cups 1-inch cubes of peeled fresh pineapple
3 cups ice cubes

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large pitcher, using a potato masher, mash several times. Cover and chill overnight.

2. Strain the mixture through coarse sieve over large bowl. Transfer pineapple solids to processor, coarsely chop using on/off turns.

3. Strain chopped pineapple through sieve over same bowl, pressing on solids with spatula to release as much liquid as possible (discard pineapple solids in sieve).

4. Pour strained pineapple punch back into pitcher. Can be made 6 hours ahead, kept covered and chilled.

5. Mix 2 cups pineapple into punch, then mix in ice and serve.

Decor: This is easy, and it's editable. You can take a decorative bowl and add fruit. Take things from the frig, such as black plums, black and purple grapes, blackberries and limes. Organize them and make a centerpiece. You can also have color votives, pull some pillar candles together, and everyone looks ten years younger!

Cocktails: Make them the night before, in a beverage jar. Cowie suggests one made with vodka, fresh ginger, fresh lemon grass, jalapeno, pineapple. It's placed in the beverage jar for 8-24 hours. Once infused, you add the mixture over ice in a shaker, shake, and pour into a martini glass.

2 gallons of vodka
3 jalepenos sliced
4-5 inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 sticks of lemon grass sliced
1 whole pineapple, 1/4 slices

Put all ingredients into a beverage server and allow to infuse 8-24 hours

Fill cocktail shaker with ice and add beverage, shake and pour into a martini glass.

Garnish with slice of lemon grass and a wheel of jalepeno.

GREEN GODDESS -  made with cucumbers.
Garnish is important when serving a drink, Cowie observes, and we should dress our drinks up just as we would ourselves. Ingredients:

2 ounces (60ml) of vodka
3/4 ounce (25ml) St Germain Elderflower or elderflower syrup
1/2 ounce (15ml) fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce of honey
Wheel European cucumber cut into quarters
Cucumber fan for garnish

Muddle the cucumber pieces and the fresh lime juice in the bottom of a Boston glass. Add the remaining ingredients and shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass garnish with a thinly sliced cucumber, sliced 3 times and fanned out -- float on top of cocktail.

Muddling: To muddle something is to smash it against the sides of the glass. It is recommend that you use either a wooden muddler or a bar spoon with a muddler for this purpose to avoid scarring the glassware.

Glass: Martini Glass
Ice: None
Garnish: Thin sliced cucumber, fanned out, float on top


Last year was all about the pomegranate, but this year, it's all about the blueberry. This drink du jour is chic and sexy and easy. This recipe calls for a flavorful blend of fresh blueberries and sorbet to provide a sensational end-of-summer kick to your party! It also has an incredible color.

1/3 cup tequila (any brand)
2 tablespoons Triple Sec
1 tablespoon lime juice
2/3 cup blueberries
14 ice cubes
2/3 cup raspberry sorbet

Add all ingredients into blender and blend.


This drink is similar to sangria and is great to serve during a late brunch or in the early evening. Simply cut up your peaches and strawberries, place in a pitcher and add your sauvignon blanc. Let sit for one day and serve.

Cowie made this cocktail in an infusion jar with two compartments, enabling him to mix the ingredients of the cocktail in the top half of the jar and place ice in the bottom half, so the ice didn't melt in the wine/fruit mixture and water it down.

CAIPIRINHA (national cocktail of Brazil)

This is the drink you serve when you really want to fuel the fire! Brazil's national cocktail, it's made with Cachaça, sugar and lime. Cachaça is Brazil's most common distilled alcoholic beverage. Like rum, it's made from sugarcane. However, cachaça is made from sugarcane juice, while rum is made from molasses, a byproduct of the sugar refining process. It's common to substitute vodka or rum in drinks made with cachaça, including the Caipirinha.
Stirrings has created a very easy version of a more complicated cocktail. This usually requires muddling (Cup grinding with back of wood spoon) of the ingredients and with this recipe; it's just two easy steps.

2 parts Stirrings Caipirinha Mixer
1 part cachaca (pronounce: ca-sasha)
In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 parts Stirrings Caipirinha Mixer and 1 part cachaca with plenty of ice. Cover and shake vigorously. Serve over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

For an added bonus, Cowie adds leche juice, fresh lime, fresh ginger and a lime wheel.


NO USE GETTING THEM BOMBED, fergawdsakes, SERVE Appetizers!!

Samosas: a delicious triangular pastry shell filled with either meat or veggies; take them straight from freezer and fry in a bit of vegetable oil. You can keep these in the freezer; there's no defrosting involved before you prepare them. READ fabulous article DEVASTATINGLY CHEAP AND TASTY  INDIAN RECIPES.


Makes about 2 cups, 10 servings
2 large eggplants
1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
chile sesame oil, 1/2 tsp
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Paprika and toasted sesame seeds
6 small pita breads cut in wedges

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Using a sharp knife, pierce the eggplants in several places. Set them on a baking sheet and run under the broiler until the eggplants are soft and the skin is charred, turning frequently.

3. Transfer the eggplants to a colander and set aside to drain until they are cool.

4. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, remove all of the skin and, using your hands, squeeze as much of the liquid from them as possible. Cut the eggplant into chunks.

5. In a blender or food processor, combine the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Add the eggplant and process until the mixture until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Transfer the baba ghanoush to a serving bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the paprika, sesame seeds, toasted on thick skillet. Serve with warm pita bread.

NOTE: Baba ghanoush can be made 1 day ahead. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups, 10 servings

One 15 1/2-ounce can chick peas, drained
1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Additional chopped parlsey
chile sesame seeds and toasted sesame seeds
6 small pita breads cut in wedges

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and cumin, sesame oil, toasted, 1 tsp. Process until the mixture is smooth, adding more water if a thinner consistency is desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. To serve, transfer the hummus to a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil and then sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with warm pita bread.

NOTE: Hummus can be made 1 day ahead. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 6-8 servings

3/4 lb. red and/or yellow tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 small Serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled, de-veined and cooked
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In medium bowl combine first seven ingredients; let sit 1 hour at room temperature.

2. Cut shrimp into quarters. Add to bowl and season with salt and

Makes 8 servings

1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound raw peanuts, shelled
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
10 to 12 whole dried small red chili peppers, for garnish (optional)

1. Mix the coriander, cumin, and cayenne together in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Place the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the peanuts, and toast them, stirring continually, until they are lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Dust the peanuts with the spices and toast for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season the peanuts to taste with salt and pepper and then spread out to cool on a bed of paper towel. Once cool, place in a bowl and serve. (For an added color accent, you might garnish them with some beautiful little dried red chili peppers)

Spiced CASHEW MACADEMIA Nuts: If you're serving a potent drink or two, it's always a welcome touch -- not to mention prudent and polite -- to provide cocktail munchies. Instead of the standard chips, dips, and salsas, why not try something a little more intriguing, such as tasty toasted nuts? And, for an added color accent, you might garnish them with some beautiful little dried red chili peppers to sell the point that they're hot.

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1? 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2  tablespoon olive oil 1/2 tbsp chile sesame oil
1 pound macadamia nuts cashews mixed
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1? 4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 to 12 whole dried small red chili peppers, for garnish (optional)

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, and cayenne. Set aside.
2. Place the oils in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the peanuts, and toast them, stirring continually, until they are lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Dust the peanuts with the spices and toast for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper and then spread out to cool on a bed of paper towel. Once cool, place in a bowl and serve with the whole chili peppers as garnish.

Then add a cheese board and crusty bread and Marconia almonds. Cheese essentials include a chevre, a creamy, a hard, and a pungent cheese. Lay out with crackers and marconia almonds, which are very flavorful.
What better way to greet guests than with something colorful and exciting to drink? Simply take an ordinary drink and make it into an extraordinary moment -- something Cowie knows all about.

Remember, he says: Your drinks should always be as stylish as you are. The trend right now is to not have your garnish hanging over your drink, but have it floating on top, or neatly placed on the rim of the glass. Clean, simple, sexy!

SOME PAL has to volunteer as the BAR KEEPER and do the drink mixing. They can circulate but when they see someone standing by the bar, they have to be prepared to go into action. It can't be the host. Don't buy glasses. RENT them, much more realistic as who has shelf space?