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Beware The Tippling Point, And Other Cocktail Party Tips


OK. Take out your calendar. Give it a look. There might be a pretty decent chance that between now and January 1, you have some sort of holiday party to attend. Maybe you're even hosting one. Dan Pashman of WNYC's The Sporkful podcast joins us now with holiday cocktail party tips. Hey, Dan.


MARTIN: OK. So what's the first thing we need to think about when we're going to a party this time of year?

PASHMAN: Well, I mean, look, you're going to probably have a drink or three, and that's OK. It's a party. But, look, of course you don't want to be the person that everyone's talking about the next morning.


PASHMAN: So once the alcohol is in your bloodstream, there's no cure but time. But there is a period of time when the alcohol is in your stomach before it goes into your bloodstream where you can manage the situation with effective buzz management. And that is that I'll come in and have a half a drink or a drink on an empty stomach. And that will make me feel real good, real fast. Then you follow that up with some food, and food slows the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream.

MARTIN: Good thinking.

PASHMAN: And that way you should get a good, nice, pleasant buzz quickly, and then you want to hit a nice plateau phase.

MARTIN: OK. So what about appetizers? Sometimes you go to a party, and the appetizers - that's where the action is. Do you have a strategy for appetizing?

PASHMAN: Do I have a strategy, Rachel? (Laughter).

MARTIN: Of course you do. I know, I know, such a leading question.

PASHMAN: I mean, my strategy is I think you got to use the buddy system because I don't know about you, but I get overwhelmed. It's a lot of stimulation, a lot of options all over the place. So pair up with some help.

MARTIN: And then what? You send, like, a reconnaissance mission, then you come back, and you're, like, I saw the stuffed mushrooms. They're in the left corner.

PASHMAN: That's right. Right, you can report back. And you could also send one person to get drinks while you go get food or vice versa.

MARTIN: OK. So we've talked about what to do if you are attending a holiday party - very helpful tips. What about if you're hosting? Any advice there?

PASHMAN: Yeah, well, first off, boxed wine - you know, some people say it's making a comeback. I say it's been here...

MARTIN: What people?

PASHMAN: (Laugher). I'm saying it right now, and I say it's been here for years. It's getting better. It's getting higher quality, and also it oxidizes at a slower rate than corked wine. And so if you buy some for Christmas, it'll still be good at New Years.

MARTIN: Really?

PASHMAN: Yeah. There's a lot of practical reasons to go for boxed wine.


PASHMAN: But the main thing I have to share with you is that if you're throwing a party, the most important thing to think about is food pacing and blood flow. You don't want people consuming a lot of food and drink while being sedentary because the energy of your party was sag.

MARTIN: That is true.

PASHMAN: So let's say you're having a cocktail party at your house where there's no sit-down dinner. The first few guests arrive. They sit down on the couch. At a certain point, as more guests arrive, you'll have one more guest than you have seats.


PASHMAN: And it's kind of awkward - right? - that one person is standing over the people on the couch. It feels awkward.

MARTIN: Yeah. I want to go get them a chair.

PASHMAN: Right, you feel that urge, but you must find that urge, Rachel, because you are at a crucial moment in your party that I identify in my book as the tippling point. This is the tippling point, and you have to...

MARTIN: (Laughter). Why couldn't you just say tipping? Why is it tippling?

PASHMAN: Because tipple - to tipple means to drink.

MARTIN: Oh, oh, that's true. OK.

PASHMAN: And this is the moment at which you need to power through because soon a few more guests will arrive, and the people who are sitting on the couch will be motivated to stand up.

MARTIN: ...Will get up. Yes, which is what you want because at a good party people are standing up, mingling.

PASHMAN: That's right.

MARTIN: Oh, that takes discipline, though, because what if the person is giving you the stink eye, like, whoa, Rachel, can't you even get me a chair?

PASHMAN: Well, as the host, you could go and stand next to that person and not sit down to make them feel a little less uncomfortable.

MARTIN: Oh, that's a good idea. Yeah, that's a good idea. Dan, this has been very illuminating, as always.

PASHMAN: My pleasure.

MARTIN: Dan Pashman is the host of the Cooking Channel webseries "You're Eating It Wrong." His new book is called "Eat More Better: How To Make Every Bite More Delicious." Thanks so much, Dan. Happy holidays.

PASHMAN: You too, Rachel, take care. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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