Get inspired to reinvent your gatherings with tips from top designers and influencers in this exciting new series. Explore all these compelling design ideas below, and create collections that speak to your style.
For this edition we spoke with Brian Hoffman, President/Chief Creative Officer of Hoffman Media, to get his take on how to throw a crowd-pleasing cocktail party in style. Read on to explore Brian’s timely tips for fun summer get-togethers.
Q: What do you love most about entertaining?
A: I’m a people person, so I love everything about spending time with family and friends in our home. From planning the cocktail and the glassware it will be served in, to appetizers and even cleaning the dishes once everyone has left, there is nothing better than hosting at home.
Q: Are you seeing more people hosting cocktail parties, and, if so, what do you think is influencing this trend?
A: Absolutely! There has been a huge resurgence in cocktail/dinner parties at home, fueled by the rise of craft cocktails being served in bars and restaurants and the desire to recreate that experience at home. It also follows a trend in collecting vintage glassware, and in my case, that means the coupe glass. Once I started building my collection of coupe glasses, I began looking for unique recipes to serve in them. I don’t collect things to watch them collect dust; I use them!
Q: What tips would you give someone on how to plan and host a great summer cocktail party?
A: My first piece of advice for any cocktail party is to plan one great signature cocktail that can be served in style, then provide mixers and a simple selection of vodka, gin, rum, bourbon, and other liquors to suit any guest’s taste. For summer, always have some rosé chilled. It’s easy to drink and always nice to serve with an al fresco dinner.
Q: What’s your go-to drink for a summer evening and how do you serve it?
A: My favorite summer cocktail is the Alabama Summer ( you can find the recipe on page 41 in my book, The Coupe ). I love when watermelon makes its seasonal debut, and the first thing I do is juice one so I can enjoy a summer sunset while sipping a cocktail. Watermelon juice (sweet), Campari (bitter), and a good vodka pair perfectly for a simple and refreshing drink served in a coupe glass.
Q: What are some of your other favorite summer drink recipes?
A: A cocktail that’s delicious and easy for entertaining a crowd is the Peppino di Capri from Masseria in Washington, DC—vodka, sorbet, and Prosecco. What’s not to love?
Q: We understand you collect vintage barware. How did you start your collection?
A: My collection began with a range of vintage airline barware, from swizzle sticks to rocks glasses and wine carafes—all representing the golden age of aviation and the style they brought to the skies. Then I fell in love with the coupe glass and wanted my home bar to be filled with various styles and designs that represent the decades that have kept this beloved piece of glassware in use. It’s been used for champagne ( to let the bubbles out ), and became an icon of the 1950s cocktail scene. When my mother started making her first home in the 70s, she placed a set of “sherbet” glasses on layaway. Of course, they’ve since made their way to my collection. Whatever they are called and however they are used, I can’t get enough of them.
Q: You obviously love coupe glasses, what makes those special to you?
A: I love things that make a statement, and I adore the uniqueness of each coupe glass. It’s as if the glassware makers knew they could pour their creative energy into the coupe glass design, knowing it was bound to be used in a celebratory fashion. And once you begin a collection, they make a statement on your bar cart and in the hands of guests at a party.
Q: Are there other fun serving uses for coupe glasses?
A: Since there are so many styles and sizes to choose from, the serving uses are endless. Because I have so many, I always begin any gathering with champagne or a cocktail served in coupe glasses. But a really fun way to end the evening is to serve dessert in them as well. I included 10 dessert recipes in the book for this very reason. I love having multiple ways to use my coupes.
Q: What’s your favorite way to show off your collection?
A: On my antique French bar cart… and drinking from them.
Q: We’re seeing bar carts everywhere. Why are they becoming so popular?
A: Fueled by a love for "what’s old is new again," I have seen so many antique bar carts being put to use as well as new ones, too. Even if you don’t want to use one for a bar setup, they are great for bedside tables or in a bathroom for towels, soaps, and fresh flowers.
Q: What are your favorite styling tips for bar carts and for setting up a bar?
A: Curate beautiful things that you love! I purchase bottles of liquor when I travel so I can show them off on my bar cart when I return. In addition to bottles, I display favorite glassware, decanters, cocktail linens, swizzle sticks, and my copper champagne bucket. Fresh flowers are always the finishing touch.
There is no right or wrong way to set up your bar. Make it personal. Always showcase things you love that tell a story. And put your bar cart and glassware to good use—you don’t live in a museum, so don’t be afraid to use the things you collect.