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Throw a Retro New Year's Cocktail Party

If you're throwing a New Year's Eve party, how about going old school?

"Early Show" contributor Katie Lee gave some great tips on the broadcast for throwing a retro cocktail party.

Lee's recipes from her recent book, "From The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions," are inspired by the AMC show "Mad Men."

"Early Show" Recipes Galore

"Every time I tune in to 'Mad Men,'" Lee said. "I find myself wanting an old-fashioned cocktail. The show inspired me to make some retro appetizers and cocktails and this party was born. My friends and I had so much fun and it was a welcome change from the usual cocktail party."

The Party Playlist:

Lee said you should play everything from '60s girl groups to The Temptations, but also include modern songs that have a throwback-appeal to keep the mood from being too theme-oriented.

Some of Lee's suggestions:
"Come To Me" by Koop
"Lets Get It On" by Marvin Gaye
"Mercy" by Duffy
"Tears Dry On Their Own" by Amy Winehouse
"Valerie" by Mark Ronson

Right after the ball drops, Lee suggested playing "The Best Is Yet To Come" by Frank Sinatra, and follow up with anything from Louis Prima and Sammy Davis Jr.!

Party Tips:

• Prep food early: Most of these recipes can be assembled and refrigerated the night before, then popped in the oven just before party time.

• Get the music started: Press play well before anyone gets there, just in case somebody is early, they won't feel like they've walked into a dead party.

• Inspire mingling: Ask one of your gregarious pals to pass around hors d'oeuvres and get people talking. Have another do the same with drinks.

• Offer a lighter drink: On New Year's Eve you may be drinking for hours, so also serve something less intoxicating.


Meatloaf Sliders

The most popular recipe from my first cookbook was meatloaf. I called it "manloaf' because if you make it for a man, he's destined to fall in love with you. Everyone loved it, even Oprah! So many people are serving sliders at parties that I decided to miniaturize my meatloaf for a party and turn it into a small sandwich-a meatloaf slider. These mini manloaves were the hit of the party!

1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup grated onion
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
24 slider-size hamburger buns


Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a cooking rack on top. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, egg, 1/4 cup of the ketchup, the onion, bread crumbs, Worcestershire, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Use your hands to mix everything together.
Divide meat by the tablespoonful and shape each into a thin patty. Place on the prepared rack. Brush the patties with the remaining 1/4 cup ketchup. Bake for 20 minutes.

While meatloaf is baking, spread mayonnaise onto one side of each bun. Place each meatloaf slider in a prepared bun and serve.

Sausage Balls

These are such a great cocktail party snack. They are so easy to eat and taste great. I also like to make these as a hors d'oeuvre at brunch parties. It is important to use freshly shredded cheese as it gives the dough more moisture.

1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 1/2 cups baking mix (I use Bisquick)
3 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the sausage meat, baking mix, and cheese. Use your hands to completely mix until well blended. The dough will be crumbly. Use your hands to roll into 1 1/2-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush each sausage ball with heavy cream. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Oven-fried Chicken Satay

I love to serve fried food at parties, but when there's a big crowd, I find myself stuck in the kitchen frying while all of my guests are having fun. By coating chicken in cornflakes and baking it, I get the same crunchy effect without all of the labor. I like to serve this with homemade BBQ sauce, but you could also use honey mustard, ranch dressing, or duck sauce.

*Satay - An Indonesian favorite consisting of small marinated cubes of meat, fish or poultry threaded on skewers and grilled or broiled. Satay is usually served with a spicy peanut sauce. It's a favorite snack food but is also often served for an appetizer and sometimes as a main dish.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
4 cups cornflakes
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
BBQ sauce, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Thread chicken pieces onto skewers, working the skewer in and out of the meat. Using a pastry brush, brush each piece of chicken with Dijon mustard.

In a food processor, combine the cornflakes, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pulse to a coarse meal and transfer to a shallow dish. Dredge each chicken skewer in the cornflake mixture until evenly coated. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve with BBQ sauce.

Asparagus with Roasted Garlic Aioli

This is a great hors d'oeuvre to make ahead of time for a cocktail party. I steam the asparagus and make the aioli the day before and store them in the refrigerator until serving time.

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and peeled
1 head of garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath. Boil the asparagus for 2 minutes and plunge into the ice water. Drain and chill until serving time.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the top off the head of garlic. Place the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap tightly. Roast for 35 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the garlic, until the garlic is soft and deep golden brown. Let cool completely. Squeeze the peel of each clove to release the garlic.

In a food processor, combine the roasted garlic, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Pulse until garlic is completely incorporated. Serve alongside the chilled asparagus.

Devils on Horseback

People go crazy for these bite-size snacks, which only take minutes to prepare. This is an easy recipe to experiment with -- you can substitute almonds for the pecans, prunes for the dates, or prosciutto for the bacon.

24 pecan halves
24 pitted dates
8 slices bacon (not thick-cut, cut crosswise into thirds)
1 1/2 to 2 cups mango chutney

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Insert a pecan half into each date. Wrap with a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake until bacon is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and serve with mango chutney for dipping.

For cocktail recipes, go to Page 2.

Kiwi-Lillet Gimlet

A couple of years ago, a friend brought me a bottle of Lillet. It quickly became my favorite summer drink, just poured over ice with a splash of soda. I started experimenting and came up with this spin on a gimlet. The frozen kiwi looks so pretty in the glass and the mint and gin make it very refreshing on a hot day. Be careful - it goes down easy!

2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
4 cups Lillet blonde
1/2 cup club soda
1/4 cup gin
Fresh mint leaves
2 cups ice

Freeze the kiwi in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In a pitcher, combine the Lillet, club soda, gin, and mint. Add frozen kiwi and 2 cups of ice. Serve in highball glasses.

The "Perfect" Manhattan with Drunken Cherries

For this recipe, I turned to my two favorite cocktail guru girls, Leanne Shear and Tracey Toomey. The duo has their own Hamptons-based TV show and penned the novel "The Perfect Manhattan" and the drink guide "Cocktail Therapy."

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce good-quality sweet vermouth
Dash of bitters
1 drunken cherry (recipe follows)

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the bourbon, vermouth, and bitters. Shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the Drunken Cherry.

Drunken Cherries

Fill a one-quart mason jar with fresh, plump cherries (pits removed). Pour your favorite bourbon oven them until they are all covered. Seal the jar and refrigerate at least 24 hours, but the cherries will keep for up to three months. The longer they marinate in the bourbon, the better they taste! These cherries are great in Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, or even over vanilla ice cream for a decadent dessert.

Meyer Lemon Collins

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice
Club soda
Small edible flowers

Combine the vodka, syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and top with club soda. Garnish with a flower.

Blood Orange Sidecar

Sugar, for the glass
Orange slice
1 1/2 ounces cognac
3/4 ounce Cointreau or Triple Sec
3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
Blood orange peel

To frost the glass with sugar: Place about a 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Use a slice of orange to rub around the outside of the glass. Dip each glass into the sugar. Allow sugar to harden. *This is a good thing to do before the party.

Combine the cognac, Cointreau, and orange juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain into prepared glass. Garnish with an orange peel

Champagne Cocktail

Sugar cubes
Angostura bitters

Place sugar cube in the bottom of a Champagne glass. Top with a dash of bitters. Top with Champagne.

Pineapple Strawberry Punch

1 (6 ounce) can frozen pink lemonade, slightly thawed
8 ounces pineapple juice
1 (10 ounce) package frozen strawberries
1 (2 liter) bottle ginger ale
1 pineapple, cored and cut into rings, frozen

In a blender, combine lemonade, pineapple juice, and frozen strawberries and blend until smooth. Just before serving, combine with ginger ale in a punch bowl. Add frozen pineapple.

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