The Perfect Summer Party

From boozy brunches and moonlit dinners to elegant parties, the summer is all about entertaining. To help you out, we asked the ultimate host, celebrity wedding planner Colin Cowie, to share his favorite cocktails for a range of seasonal events. Cheers!

Cocktail Party

The theme of the summer, according to Cowie, is The Great Gatsby. So, “embrace Gatsby fever and put together a soirée full of Art Deco influences,” he says. “Start with a color scheme. Black, white and gold are crisp and modern while still harkening back to the ‘20s and ‘30s.” And don’t forget the centerpieces. Cowie recommends sticking with “single varieties and colors of flowers—such as a tall arrangement of white calla lilies or a low vase overflowing with red coxcomb. They’ll add bold yet refined touches of color and shape.” As for the drinks for this soirée, Cowie suggests the sophisticated cognac-based Sidecar and the bubbly Chambord Kir Royale.

Summer Sunday Brunch

A warm and sunny morning is the ideal opportunity to hold a leisurely brunch. Set the scene with dahlias and garden roses, which are “soft but full of bright color,” Cowie says.  “Choose hues of pink and orange, accented with pops of green, to match the season.” And whether you’re serving frittatas, baked goods or a big salad, he advises pairing your menu with a “fresh, sweet Strawberry Basil Lemonade. A little gin will fuel the festivities.”

Weekend Getaway

Take advantage of the season’s weather and head outside for an adventure. No matter if  you’re hiking, cycling or swimming, it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors.

What should you eat after your activity? Something grilled. “Skewer chicken or shrimp and fresh vegetables, then let the smoke and fire add deep flavor that’s even more satisfying after a long, active day,” Cowie says. “When it comes to setting the table, keep it simple. Neutral linens—or maybe a camp-inspired checkered tablecloth—won’t distract from the breathtaking view.” And instead of beer, fix the complex and refreshingly spicy Michelada. “Once you’re done with dinner, gather around the campfire and remember: You’re never too old for s’mores.”

Backyard Sunset Dinner

Long August days are designed for an al-fresco dinner party. “Set a single long table under strings of lights to celebrate the summer warmth,” Cowie says. “Mismatched plates, linens, flatware and chairs give the event a rustic feel. Top the table with terra cotta pots filled with wildflowers and herbs.” Forget about serving complicated dishes—save those projects for the dark days of winter—and instead offer your guests platters of cheeses, sliced meats, fresh fruit, breads and crackers. While crisp, minerally white wines are a natural match, you should also fix a couple pitchers of Grand Sangria. “Mix up a few batches in advance to make sure everyone’s glass is full and ready for an evening of friends and fun,” Cowie advises.

Chic Summer Celebration

We don’t need much of an excuse to throw a party this time of year. And the perfect setting is an “all-white décor, which is fresh and light, just begging for a celebration,” Cowie says. “Accent the white-on-white look with textured pillows and arrangements of flowers like peonies, calla lilies and roses. Mix in touches of silver for some shine and depth.” Cowie suggests having two signature concoctions for your guests, like the Blushing Lady and the Cucumber, Basil & Lime Gimlet. Here’s to the last weeks of summer!

To see how these seasonal celebrations can be transformed for a summer wedding, and to get even more entertaining ideas from expert event planner Colin Cowie, visit ColinCowieWeddings.com.

(Photo by Colin Miller, courtesy Colin Cowie Weddings)

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