Cocktail Party Long On Fun, Short On Prep

Ever feel like having a few friends over, but don't think you have the time to throw something together?

Master entertainer Colin Cowie showed how to create an incredible cocktail party in just 15 minutes, on The Early Show Friday. He says it's easier than you think!

Cowie says, "The kitchen is the central system in the home and where people always end up when you entertain," so feel free to use it as you base area for your party.

You can do a couple of things the night before with your decor and cocktails.

Decor: This is easy, and it's editable. You can take a decorative bowl and add fruit. Take things from the frig, such as black plums, black and purple grapes, blackberries and limes. Organize them and make a centerpiece. You can also have color votives, pull some pillar candles together, and everyone looks ten years younger!

Cocktails: Make them the night before, in a beverage jar. Cowie suggests one made with vodka, fresh ginger, fresh lemon grass, jalapeno, pineapple. It's placed in the beverage jar for 8-24 hours. Once infused, you add the mixture over ice in a shaker, shake, and pour into a martini glass.


2 gallons of vodka
3 jalepenos sliced
4-5 inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 sticks of lemon grass sliced
1 whole pineapple, 1/4 slices

Put all ingredients into a beverage server and allow to infuse 8-24 hours

Fill cocktail shaker with ice and add beverage, shake and pour into a martini glass.

Garnish with slice of lemon grass and a wheel of jalepeno.

Appetizers: They can include:

Samoosas: a delicious triangular pastry shell filled with either meat or veggies; take them straight from freezer and fry in a bit of vegetable oil. You can keep these in the freezer; there's no defrosting involved before you prepare them.

Spiced Nuts: If you're serving a potent drink or two, it's always a welcome touch -- not to mention prudent and polite -- to provide cocktail munchies. Instead of the standard chips, dips, and salsas, why not try something a little more intriguing, such as tasty toasted nuts?

And, for an added color accent, you might garnish them with some beautiful little dried red chili peppers:

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄ 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound macadamia nuts
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1⁄ 4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 to 12 whole dried small red chili peppers, for garnish (optional)

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, and cayenne. Set aside.
2. Place the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the peanuts, and toast them, stirring continually, until they are lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Dust the peanuts with the spices and toast for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper and then spread out to cool on a bed of paper towel. Once cool, place in a bowl and serve with the whole chili peppers as garnish.

Then add a cheese board and crusty bread and Marconia almonds. Cheese essentials include a chevre, a creamy, a hard, and a pungent cheese. Lay out with crackers and marconia almonds, which are very flavorful.