The idea of ‘Stoop Cocktails’ originated during 2020 when our entertaining was almost nonexistent, other than stoop cocktails with a few close friends. I would make four drinks, almost always a Negroni, and have them on a platter with a large lip so they would not slide off. This was carried to the elevator, and we would be ready to meet our two guests outside of our building in Seattle. They would sit on the bottom steps and we would sit at the top—more than six feet apart from one another. It was an incredibly lovely and somewhat civilized way to connect with one another during a very stressful time. We would all enjoy our cocktail with little bowls of nuts or chips for each person, and when we had finished, so was our gathering. It almost had an old-fashioned feel to it, which we quite liked. There is a sense of community as neighbors walk by and you nod a hello. We look back on the gatherings with great fondness. Fast forward to now. A slight crisp in the air as autumn swirls about. Stoop cocktails can continue, as the concept is rock solid. Only now, it can include hugs and we will sit much closer together and it might include a few more friends. It is a great way to catch up without having to ‘fully’ entertain. So often folks don’t have guests over, even on a small scale, because it involves quite a bit of work. Not so with stoop cocktails. Hosting truly could not be easier.
When entertaining so simply, every detail counts. They might be little details, but they won’t go unnoticed.
—Use a lovely glass for the cocktail. There is something about sitting outside, sipping from a glass, not a plastic cup, that elevates the experience. I don’t think you should use something you are going to be worry the entire time might break, like a glass from your grandmother’s collection she collected while traveling through Europe before she was married. That would be no fun at all. Just choose a vessel that is stylish that you won’t be bummed if it happens to have an accident along the way. We have a set of glasses that belonged to the designer Albert Hadley that are often called into action for stoop cocktails which always makes me smile.
—A cool napkin, be it paper or cotton or linen, can instantly bump up the specialness of the gathering. It is the flourish where you can add a bit of pattern and color to the occasion. I like to bring out a stack in a Lucite holder so guests can grab a fresh napkin if needed throughout the course of the visit.
—We opt for one thing to nosh on. This is not the time to bring out a cheese or butter board. Ease is key to stoop cocktails. Think truffle popcorn or rosemary infused potato chips. A small bowl for each person of pistachios is always a hit. The idea is not to fill up your guest, but to offer something tasty to have with their drink. Warmed store-bought pigs in a blanket on a chilly eve in a bowl nestled up to a dollop of Dijon will always be a hit. Your guests might not want to leave!
—Go top shelf. Since you are only sharing one drink with your friends, now is the time to serve your very best stuff. Been saving that special bottle of Cab you bought on a tasting in Napa, now is the time to crack that open. A loved brand of Champagne you adore, now is the time to pop the cork and enjoy it while sitting alfresco enjoying the company of your friends.
—Comfort is key. Since you are sitting on steps, it is nice to have a little something to sit on. This is not 100% needed and often we use nothing at all. But an oversized cotton napkin or cool dishtowel absolutely does the trick if you feel it is necessary. With a slight cool in the air that October can bring, we also like to fill up an L.L. Bean bag with assorted lap blankets and small throws. They work perfectly wrapped around your shoulders or over your legs to keep you toasty as the sun goes down.
—A little spritz will do you. On the tray that I carry down with drinks and nibbles, we always like to add a small bottle of hand sanitizer. It is a nice option for your guests to use as washing your hands is not an option. Go for a yummy smelling variety. It often is passed around so it is much appreciated by all if the scent is divine.
—A parting gift. You have set the stage. A lovely time has been had by all. Laughter and stories filled the air. Drinks glasses are empty as are the bowls with tasty treats. I think it is fun way to bid adieu with a small token slipped into your guests pocket or bag. A little cello bag of caramels to be enjoyed in the Lyft ride home. Or a book you have enjoyed you think they will love. Simplicity might be the theme for stoop cocktails, but that does not mean the impact can’t be large and long remembered. Cheers to friendship and entertaining with ease!