Food and Drink

How to Host a Genuinely Good Virtual Cocktail Party

Ramp up your lockdown.


Cocktail hour is so much more than just the time of day when you order or shake up your favourite drink.

It’s the ritual of letting go, releasing your cares and worries for a moment and giving yourself over to the pleasures of a well-mixed drink. It’s like meditation if you do it right.

It’s a time for chatting with friends, for trading gossip, and offering commiseration over life’s slings and arrows and global pandemics. Just the usual.

But, after eighteen odd months of attending virtual happy hours, I think we can agree that it’s in dire need of a bit of a revamp. When it comes to hosting a virtual party that gets your pals excited, there are a few simple guidelines you need to follow to keep your guests entertained. 

We’ve enlisted Jeremy Allan, resident drinks expert at bevmart, to devise a blueprint that will guarantee good times:

Set A Theme

Fact: every party is more fun with a theme.
A wardrobe change from your pyjamas will also help get you in the party mood and the convenience of your own home means you’ve got no excuse but to serve up some serious looks. From cocktail dresses to a fully-fledged theme to a humble hat party; anything goes.

Set The Mood: Lighting

One of the best things about drinking in an actual bar is the mood lighting. No matter if you’re feeling gross or tired from a busy day, the mood lighting at intimate bars just always makes you feel better. But when you’re trying to see the faces of your nearest and dearest across the internet, not so much. Whether it’s artfully placed lamps, a ring light or even some candles, there are ways you can create mood lighting, from wherever you are.

Choose the DJ

In virtual hangs, conflicting sounds are just confusing and annoying, which makes ambient music a challenge. To minimise this issue, assign a guest (preferably one with epic taste in music) from your group to be the DJ and have them send around a playlist for everyone to approve pre-party, then groove as the night unfolds.

Style It Up: Décor

Regardless of what video call platform you choose, the area directly behind you will be visible during your cocktail party, so take this as an opportunity to set up a cute corner in your favourite room. Give it a tidy, add some indoor plants, maybe some art and a nice lamp and BAM – you’ll be in your own little party world! If you’re feeling extra excited, you could decorate your backdrop to match the party theme.

Set Some House Rules

Every bar has a set of rules on the do’s and don’ts, so your virtual setting should have some basics too. No need to get too serious – even just devising a basic run sheet or agenda and sending it to your group beforehand will make the cocktail party flow smoothly. Maybe plan some activities, games, or set times for people to share stories, so you can avoid awkward silences and make sure that everyone gets a turn to chat.

Choose Your Cocktail

Whether your tastes run toward the classics or you’re looking to expand your palate, now is the perfect time to go all out with your most fancy glassware, most elaborate garnishes, and all the professional techniques you’ve been mastering during lockdown.

Here are some suggestions by spirit:

Vodka: think of vodka as the spirits world’s best supporting actor – it can transform even the most basic of ingredients into a cocktail. Embrace your inner James Bond with a classic Vodka Martini or opt for an Espresso Martini to keep the party going.

Tequila: with the reputation for being the natural-born life of the party, tequila always makes you feel good. From Margaritas to Palomas, this bad boy is what you need when you want to turn up the volume on a good time.

Whiskey: if sophistication is the by-word of the evening, then whiskey is what you need. From an Old Fashioned to a Manhattan; this will evoke a swanky ‘20s style celebration.

Gin: gin is the bar trolley essential for making mixology easy. Add a dash of vermouth and you have a Martini, swap in citrus and it’s a Gimlet, or simply and most classic of all, pour in some tonic and congratulate yourself for a job well done.

If all else fails: opt for pre-batched bottled cocktails that will take the hard work out of happy hour with ready-to-drink, hand-poured concoctions, such as the Twisted Shaker range that also have no artificial ingredients or preservatives and are made locally.

Enjoy Yourself

Remember, a virtual cocktail party is all about connecting with people you care about, so let go, have a good time, and enjoy each other’s company. You deserve it.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Food and Drink

Red Rooster Is Serving Free Chicken and Piping Hot Cash This Christmas in July

Get your early dose of festive cheer.

Red Rooster Christmas in July
Instagram / @redrooster_au

The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.

From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.

Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.

Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.

Terms and conditions apply. Visit Red Rooster’s Christmas in July to see all the deals.


Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.