A cocktail party doesn’t have to be complicated—but it can be so much more than bad drink mixes and frozen quiche from Costco. Our menu of appetizers is quick and easy (the majority of the recipes can even be made ahead), leaving you plenty of time to enjoy your company. The drinks are all modern riffs on classics. Just keep in mind that if you serve this menu, your home may become the new happy hour hot spot.

Make-Ahead Tips

This menu is designed to be prepared largely ahead of time. Here’s what you can do before your guests arrive:

Up to one month ahead

» Make the Black Peppercorn Syrup for the Black Pepper Martini.

Up to five days ahead

» Make the Mixed Olive Tapenade for the Mini Tapenade and Manchego Sandwiches.

» Make the Roasted Eggplant and Walnut Dip.

» Make the Honeyed Cashews with Kosher Salt.

Up to one day ahead

» Blend together a batch of lemon juice, basil, and sugar for the Basil and Rye. (The recipe makes one drink as written, so multiply out how many you need.)

» Shred the cheese and wash the arugula (wrap it in a damp paper towel, place it in a plastic bag, and store it in the vegetable drawer in your refrigerator) for the Mini Tapenade and Manchego Sandwiches.

Up to six hours ahead

» Form the meatballs and mix together the yogurt dip for the Lamb Meatballs with Lemon-Cumin Yogurt.

» Season and wrap the Smoked Paprika Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp.

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