The 2020 Oscars are fast approaching (February 9), and everyone has an opinion about them and all the buzz. The snubs, the hashtags, the speculation and betting pools—and of course the parties. If you are planning your own little viewing party or a full-on soiree, we have some fun tips to make your party fabulous.
Vanguard Seattle got together with the Chef Rhys Nunnelee and Mixologist Cassidy Fairchild of Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar, who suggested an easy and delicious treat and an Oscar theme cocktail. No matter what your theme or party plan is, what makes it fun is all in the details. Here are my tips for entertaining a crowd for the 92nd annual Oscars.
Setting Up the Drinkware
Set your glassware up ahead of time in a designated spot, bar cart or side table. I like mixing glass styles, like champagne coups and flutes, double old fashion glasses, and different shapes of wine glasses. Think eclectic. To add sparkle, I place my glassware on trays like the framed mirrored ones they hand make at Queen Anne Frame and Gift. These gilded word trays by Fishs Eddy at West Elm also hit the mark perfectly for a party atmosphere.
Make sure your guests can serve themselves, but never leave open bottles of white and champagne sitting sadly on the counter. This is a big pet peeve of mine. Put what is meant to be chilled, including mixers, in an ice bucket next to the glassware. The red wine and liquor can sit next to that. I also like to have a separate small ice container with tongs for mixed drinks.
The Plates and Snacks
Purchase fun cocktail napkins and small plates for snacks and food. If you want to use paper products, I love these Gold Palm Leaf Plates for a little bit of glamour and these Jazzy Star Plates for a modern feel, both by Meri Meri. Glass plates are a greener way to entertain since you can reuse them. The CB2 Devi Bronze Appetizer Plates featured above are so chic and under $2 a piece!
Oscar parties demand a little shimmer, so presentations is almost more important than the food. Put those mixed nuts in a fancy bowl, and the small bites on trays that people can help themselves to. The last thing you or your guests want is you frantically racing around the kitchen yanking things out of the oven. Do ahead as much as you can. However, items best served hot should come out after the party is swinging for an hour or so, since guests don’t typically eat much the first 30-60 minutes of a soiree.
For appetizers, I head to Trader Joes for the Marcona Almonds because they have the best price for this flavorful nut. My favorite appetizers are the Goat Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates and the 10-Minute Smoked Salmon Pinwheels, both from Ambitious Kitchen. Having between 5-7 appetizers for a cocktail hour party will keep your guests happy and with just the right amount of small bites.
A Sweet Oscar Party Snack: Brown Sugar Popcorn
I love that when I’m in France, I often get a small bowl of nuts or popcorn when I sit down at a cafe for a drink. It is a great little welcome when guests have their first drink at your party too. And at an Oscar party, of course we need everyone’s favorite movie time snack—with a twist.
Here is a delicious recipe for Brown Sugar Popcorn that was created for Vanguard Seattle by Fisherman’s Restaurant Chef Rhys Nunnelee. The mix of sweet and tart is completely addicting and is the perfect addition to your party.
Brown Sugar Popcorn
by Chef Rhys Nunnelee
Ingredients (Makes 4 Quarts)
5 Tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup uncooked popcorn kernels
5 Tbs of butter
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
- Prepare to Pop: Place a large pot without the lid on high heat on the stove, and add the olive oil and 3 popcorn kernels. When the kernels pop, remove the pot from the heat, add the rest of the kernels and wait 30 seconds.
- Getting Popping: Put the pot back on the heat with a lid placed just slightly off on one side to vent steam. When kernels start popping, gently shake the pot back and forth to allow for even cooking and to prevent burning.
- Stop the Popping: Remove from the pot from heat when no kernels have popped for 4 seconds. Put popcorn in a serving bowl.
- Make the Coating: In the same pot that you used to cook the popcorn, add the butter, brown sugar and lemon juice. Heat and stir occasionally until it is all melted and mixed. Pour on the popcorn and mix to coat evenly.
A Golden Oscar Party Cocktail: The Anti Depressant
A signature cocktail at an Oscar party is kind of a must. It is a lovely way to greet guests and also helps you plan the bar accordingly. Fisherman’s Mixologist Cassidy Fairchild created “The Anti Depressant,” a cocktail guaranteed to elevate the mood. After all, we still have winter gloom for a while, so let’s get this party started on the right festive note.
The Anti Depressant Cocktail
by Cassidy Fairchild
Ingredients (Makes 1 cocktail)
.25 oz each of lemon juice and orange juice
.25 oz of simple syrup
1 oz Don Julio Tequila
1 Lemon for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, then add 3/4 cup of ice. Seal, shake thoroughly, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Make your own simple syrup: Combine equal parts sugar and water. A cup of simple syrup will make about 30 Anti Depressant Cocktails, so using 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar is probably plenty if you aren’t expecting a large crowd. And if you don’t use it all, it will keep in the fridge for several weeks if you seal it properly. It’s best to make more than you think you’ll need in advance of the party, as you need it to be cool when making the cocktail.
They call it simple syrup for a reason: In a medium saucepan, simply combine the sugar and water, bring to a boil, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool and then store it in a sterile container.
To make the lemon twist for garnish: Take a fresh lemon and cut a thin slice all the way through the lemon. Cut the pulp off of the peel so that you have one long thin strip of peel. Twist the peel into a curly-q shape.
Where To Watch The Oscars
In case you are among those who have opted for streaming services instead of classic TV packages, here are the services that let you stream ABC’s live Oscar Night coverage. If you don’t have any of these services, some also have a free trial period.
The Oscars pre-show starts at 3:30 PST, Sunday, February 9, 2020. Which means if you want the party to include the red carpet, you and your guests will be day-drinking.
It’s 70-channel package includes ABC, and it has a five-day free trial.
Even if you don’t have the Live TV package already, there is a 7-day free trial. Bonus: Hulu subscribers can also check out the Oscar-nominated documentary short Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl).