Thursday, April 3, 2014

DiploSkills: Cocktail Coordination

While diplomats do not spend as much time at fancy cocktail parties as stereotypes may suggest, they are an integral part of the profession. The embassy hosted one this evening to close out our annual economic conference. This year's theme was Smart People for a Smart Economy, focusing on how government, business, and educators can work together to build tomorrow's leaders and innovators. The cocktail nibbles were provided by Good Food Ireland, an organization that cultivates and promotes high quality, artisanal, sustainable Irish food. And let me tell you, it was amazing!

The best part of cocktail parties is, of course, FREE FOOD, especially when it's as good as tonight's was. (Yes, sometimes I still think like a college student.) The most daunting part - except for trying to mingle with a room full of strangers - is juggling your food and drink in such a way as to be able to partake of both without dropping anything. Sure, you can hold your plate in one hand and your glass in the other, but that leaves zero hands left to shuttle tasty bite-sized snacks from the plate into your mouth, where they belong. And god forbid you need to pull out a business card at any point in the evening (spoiler alert: you will). One seemingly unbreakable rule of cocktail parties is that there are NEVER enough tables, so you'd better be able to hold everything at once if you want to eat. Fear not! It can be done! Here's how:

Ta da!
Hold your left hand out palm up, and slot your wine glass between the index and middle fingers. Curve the fingers just enough to hold the glass securely. Not drinking wine? Put whatever you're drinking in a wine glass anyway, as a stemmed glass is key for this maneuver.

Balance the plate on the inside of your forearm so that the heel of your hand is just inside the ridge on the bottom of the plate. This helps keep the plate from sliding down your arm or off your arm to either side. Bring your thumb up to rest against the lower rim of the plate for extra stability.

With all your victuals secured with one hand you now have your right hand free to eat food, drink wine, shake hands, procure business cards, or take pictures of the food and drink in your other hand. You know, whatever. A few words of caution: this gets harder if you overfill the plate or the glass or both, so don't go overboard. You can always go back for more. This gets harder the more glasses of wine you drink, so take it easy there tiger. You must also repress the temptation to gesticulate wildly, or at least keep it to just the one hand.

Now you're all set to be a cocktail party pro!

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