Cocktail Party, featured

How much food do I need to serve for a Cocktail Party?

When planning food for a cocktail party, how much to serve is determined by the length of your event. (For our Bar Menu, click here). Assuming there is not main course or dinner to follow, you should figure 5-7 nibbles per guest for the first couple of hours, then 4-5 nibbles for the next couple of hours and if your event goes longer, just 3 or so bites during the final hours. You may want to switch from savory to sweet bites towards the end of your event.

If you decide to go with “Small Plates“, which are heavier than traditional appetizers, or a combination of both appetizers and small plates, you should count each small plate like you would two appetizers. We are here to help you with planning, so don’t feel you have to manage all this on your own. I am happy to suggest exactly what items and how much is optimal. Remember, some guests may want to enjoy more than one serving of a particular appetizer… I can guide you based on my experience and your guests dietary preferences.

Below is a sample menu for 35 guests for a five-hour event.

1. Beef Bourguignon Meatballs
Bite-sized versions of this French Classic
with just a souçon of Bourguignon sauce
served in a Chinese spoon


2. Pan Bagnat (Provençal) Mini -sliders
Gourmet albacore tuna with minced artichoke heart and Niçoise olives and a thin hard-boiled egg slice


Chicken Antipasto Sliders

Chicken salad with Italian Slaw with fennel and capers, topped with olives and pepperocini


3. Mushroom Duxelle Tart
Minced mushrooms sautéed in a butter-Port wine reduction in delicate puff pastry shells topped with Parmagiano Reggiano

4. Shrimp Scampi Crostini
Shrimp at sautéed in smoky bacon dripping and served on crostini of multi-grain bread seasoned with rosemary


5. Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Empanadas ‡
Hand pies, filled with puree of sweet potatoes and Napa Valley goat cheese with just a hint of chile, scallions and pecans


6. Carne Tartara de Chiapas (top photo)
Filet Mignon, diced and marinated until cooked in lime juice
with chopped onion, tomato and guajillo chiles topped with Queso Anejo

photo 2 (3)


Traditional Steak Tartare*


7. Brazil Nut-crusted Pelotita

Napa Valley goat cheese filled with Black Mission fig. Served with Pear-Tamarind-Ginger Chutney

photo 1 (4)

8. Eggplant Rolls‡
Chinese eggplant, seasoned and grilled, then wrapped around a thick slice of mozzarella, roasted sweet red pepper and fresh basil, served on a skewer

Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 10.34.35 AM

9. Mexican Crab Cakes with 3 Peppers
Sweet red and yellow peppers plus mild Poblanos. Served with a chipotle aoili or Salsa Verde

Screen shot crabcakes

10. Chilled Avocado Soup Shots

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 9.16.10 AM

11. Coconut-Mango Ceviche*
Made with chef’s choice of locally-sourced white fish. Marinated in lime juice and coconut milk, with a hint of jalepeño.

Screen shot ceviche

12. Endive Wraps with Salmon, Caviar and Cowgirl Creamery Crème Fraiche

photo 4

Sweet Bites


13. Profiteroles
14. Mango Bread Pudding Cups

* These items are served raw or undercooked, or contain (or may contain) raw or undercooked ingredients. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.


2 thoughts on “How much food do I need to serve for a Cocktail Party?”

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