A Roaring Soirée

Tips for hosting a grand, Gatsby-themed party.



Lavish celebrations, the power struggle between old money and new money, dizzying unrequited love. There’s only one thing we could be talking about, and it’s happening this Friday, May 10, 2013. The much-anticipated release of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, hits theaters, and what better way to celebrate the classic novel come-to-life than with a sophisticated soirée. We show you how to throw a party that will rival any hosted by Jay Gatsby at his West Egg estate. As the antihero himself puts it, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!”


Drink:

Beautiful Fool
Recipe courtesy ’21 Club, New York City

This gin-based drink from New York’s ’21 Club is lovely and ethereal—like Daisy Buchanan herself. St.-Germain, chamomile and rosemary add delicately floral aromatics.

1½ ounces Greenhook Gin
¾ ounce St.-Germain
¾ ounce chamomile simple syrup
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce grapefruit juice
Rosemary sprig, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except the garnish into a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain the drink into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a rosemary sprig.

For the chamomile simple syrup
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 chamomile teabag

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add the teabag. Allow the mixture to steep for 5 minutes, or until the desired flavor is achieved, then remove the teabag. Store the unused syrup in the refrigerator for several weeks.


Daisy Fay
Recipe courtesy Matt Sayer, restaurant and bar manager, The Willcox Hotel, Aiken, South Carolina

At the glamorous The Willcox Hotel in Aiken, South Carolina, a selection of libations pays homage to Gatsby’s classy Roaring Twenties fêtes on Long Island, including this Champagne-based cocktail with a touch of berry and citrus.

½ ounce house-made blackberry and orange simple                 syrup (recipe below)
5 ounces Champagne, or sparkling wine
Orange twist, for garnish

Add the syrup to a chilled flute or coupe glass, and top with chilled Champagne, or sparkling wine. Garnish the drink with an orange twist.

For blackberry and orange simple syrup
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of blackberries
1 orange peel

Combine the water and the sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat, then add the blackberries and the orange peel. Steep the mixture for twenty minutes, or until the desired flavor is achieved, and then strain out the solids. Store the syrup in the refrigerator for several weeks.


Moët Imperial Gatsby
Recipe courtesy of Jim Meehan, managing partner, PDT, New York City, created exclusively for The Plaza

Champagne flows like water at Jay Gatsby’s mansion. For this riff on a Champagne cocktail, mixologist Jim Meehan of New York City’s PDT soaks a sugar cube in Green Chartreuse, rendering a drink whose hue symbolizes Gatsby’s obsessions: the green light visible at the end of Daisy’s dock, and Daisy herself.

1 sugar cube
¼ ounce Green Chartreuse
5 ounce Moët Imperial Champagne
Spiral lime twist, for garish

Place the sugar cube at the bottom of a chilled flute, and soak it with the Green Chartreuse. Top it with chilled Champagne, and garnish with a lime twist.


Eat:

Seafood Vol au Vent
Recipe courtesy Todd English, chef/owner Todd English Food Hall at The Plaza, New York City

Gatsby’s parties were legendary and often continued throughout the entire weekend. Fortify your guests the morning after with this rich and buttery brunch dish from Todd English’s Food Hall at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. English makes his vol au vent puff pastries from scratch, but feel free to substitute baked for frozen store-bought ones.

2 tablespoons butter

Garlic slivers, to taste

2 ounces bay scallops

2 ounces bay shrimp

2 ounces lobster meat

2 ounces mussel meat

4 ounces mornay sauce (recipe below)

¼ cup steamed baby spinach

Salt and pepper, to taste

Puff pastry shells or vol au vent

In a moderately hot sauté pan, add the butter, garlic to taste, bay scallops and bay shrimp, and cook until the seafood is three-quarters done. Add the lobster meat and the mussel meat, and sauté until all of the ingredients are hot and cooked through. Add the mornay sauce and the spinach, stir, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve over warm vol au vent puff pastries. Serves 1.

For the mornay sauce

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons minced onions

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups cold milk

¼ cup grated gruyère cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste



Melt the butter in a sauté pan over low to moderate heat. Add the minced onions, and cook them until they are translucent. Add the flour and stir for 4–5 minutes, until smooth. Add the cold milk while whisking the ingredients, and then raise the heat and continue to whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. (Be careful not to let it scorch on the bottom of the pan.) When the sauce comes to a lazy boil, remove it from the heat and incorporate the cheeses until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and keep warm until it’s ready to use.


Fillets of Sole à la Meuniere
Recipe courtesy of Todd English, chef/owner, Todd English Food Hall at The Plaza, New York City

Simple, French and classic—and perfect for a Gatsby-inspired dinner party. Serve this mild, crowd-pleasing fish entrée with potatoes paired with white Burgundy.

8 ounces sole
2 ounces white wine
4 tablespoons butter, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces haricots verts, blanched until crisp tender
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Toasted almonds, for garnish

Add the sole, the white wine and 2 tablespoons of the butter to a moderately hot ovenproof sauté pan, and season with salt and pepper. Lift the sole off the plate to allow some butter and wine to fall underneath it to help prevent it from sticking, or use a little vegetable oil spray. Place the sauté pan in a preheated 350 degree oven, and cook the fish until it’s firm and white. (Do not overcook the fish.) In a moderately hot sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and set the beans aside. Place the sole on a plate, and top with the haricots verts. Garnish the dish with the chopped parsley and toasted almonds. Serves 1.


Décor (and more):

• Keep decorations simple yet swanky. Decorate with black and white elements, and add a few metallic touches. Use strings of pearls and feathers, and sporadically place vases with white calla lilies on the tables.

• Charlotte Voisey, brand ambassador for William Grant & Sons and creator of the 1920s Gatsby-inspired cocktails at Todd English Food Hall, recommends renting or buying a punch bowl for the occasion. “And used glassware, such as coupe glasses, that are festive and fit the era,” she says.

• Get spiffy, says The Willcox owner Shannon Ellis. “It’s more fun if you dress the part, in black tie for gentleman and all-out flapper attire for the ladies.”

• Play the eclectic soundtrack from the film (with songs by Jay-Z, Beyoncé and others), or keep it authentic with period summertime jazz.

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