It’s hard to imagine a time when cocktail drinking and cigarette smoking by women was a question of manners and not morality.
Rewind to the Roaring 20’s, the Jazz Age and what F. Scott Fitzgerald would later describe as the “greatest, gaudiest spree in history”; where Prohibition gave birth to bathtub gin, cocktails, finger food and the elusive speakeasy. If you were able to provide your guests with an endless stream of libations, your popularity was assured.
Cocktails gained popularity—heavily flavoured concoctions assembled to disguise the taste of potent bathtub gin with juices, herbs, sweeteners and syrups. Finger food became fashionable, which helped to increase liquor tolerance by ensuring that party-goers weren’t drinking on an empty stomach.
At the end of WW1, a new generation flocked from small towns to big cities in search of excitement, opportunity, and a “modern” way of living. Electronics like radios became more common, particularly in metropolitan households. Flashy new car designs rolled down city streets. Women had finally earned the right to vote, and their hard-fought equality and independence was reflected in their fashion– shorter haircuts, higher hemlines, less curvy silhouettes, smoking cigarettes and free talk about sex.
Despite Prohibition, everything about the 1920’s screamed excess and decadence. The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession”.
Sounds like the perfect theme for an event to me! In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “A little party never hurt nobody”.
These elements are a must to host a “Great Gatsby” party that will be talked about around the water cooler for years to come.
First and Foremost – BOOZE
While no Gatsby party is complete without Champagne, it would just be wrong to skimp on cocktails.
- 4 fresh mint sprigs
- 2 ½ oz Bourbon Whiskey
- 1 tsp powdered sugar
- 2 tsp water
Muddle mint leaves, powdered sugar and water in a Collins glass. Fill the glass with shaved or crushed ice and add bourbon. Garnish with a mint sprig.
- 2 oz Gin
- 3 tsp honey
- 1 oz Fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz Fresh orange juice
In the base of a martini shaker, stir together gin and honey. Add the juices and shake with ice. Strain in to a chilled martini glass and garnish with an orange zest twist.
- 2 oz Gin
- ½ oz Fresh lime juice
- ¼ oz Pure cane sugar syrup
- Sparkling water
Place squeezed lime shell in to Collins glass. Shake the first three ingredients in a cocktail mixer before straining in to glass with lime shell. Top with sparkling water.
- ¾ oz Triple Sec
- ½ oz Cognac
- ¾ oz Fresh lemon juice
Shake ingredients with ice and strain in to a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
Every single element should scream excess and decadence.
- Gold Sequined Fabric used for tablecloths and draping walls will help to create a feel of sumptuousness
- Feathers, Beads, Crystals will make opulent centerpieces
- Antique candelabras add interest and ambiance
- Flowers in white, peach and pale pink can be added to centerpieces or fashioned in to stand alone arrangements.
- Hundreds of mini white lights strung on the ceiling will set the mood
WHAT TO WEAR
For The Ladies
The first thing that comes to mind is the image of a Flapper. But everyone will be dressed like that. Stand out from the crowd by embracing Daisy’s impeccable style.
The fabric you choose should drape effortlessly around your body – think silk, chiffon or lace. It’s all in the details so choose something with cascading ruffles, beads, bows, sequins – anything that screams wealth. Accessories should be reminiscent of the Art Deco movement. Go all out with gloves, sparkling statement necklaces and earrings, a faux fur stole and of course the glittering headpiece to pull the look together.
For the Men
Despite how you feel about Jay Gatsby, no one could argue that he wasn’t always dapper. A suit with high-waisted pants, add a vest if you have one. Accessorize with a Panama, Fedora or Trilby. Choose textures and patterns for your tie (don’t forget the tie pin) and handkerchief. It was Gatsby’s exquisite attention to detail that made him look so good. Stick to Art Deco inspired accessories, diagonal stripes or geometric shapes. Don’t forget the cuff links or bowtie and whether you choose black oxfords or white wingtips, make sure they’re shiny.
ON THE MENU
The 1920’s saw the introduction of the tea sandwich, dainty, bite sized and made with assorted fillings. Other culinary delights of the time included lobster canapés, caviar rolls, crabmeat cocktails, shrimp patties, oyster toast, devilled anchovy molds, radish roses and savoury cheese balls.
Other ideas taken directly from the pages of the Great Gatsby:
- Oysters Rockafeller
- Devilled Eggs
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Salmon Mousse
- Pastry Pigs
- Roasted Nuts
- Lemon Cakes
Your invitations can be created using any of these free Gatsby inspired fonts from fontspace.com.
- Park Lane NF
- Nite Club
- Atlas (Regular and Solid)
If you have the space, provide a photo booth for your guests to have a souvenir picture taken. Have props (beads, feather boas, hats (male & female), head bands) available for those who may need something extra to add to their outfit.
“On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains.” – An excerpt from The Great Gatsby
Always provide a “safe ride home” initiative for your guests.