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Rule #2 for Hosting the Ultimate Summer Soirée: Surprise and Delight

The secret to hosting a party that will have the guest list talking (and sharing the photos).

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You’ve got the guest list, you’ve set the mood — but to throw a very extra backyard party, you’ll need a little something, well, extra. Our calendars are suddenly brimming again with invitations and social obligations, and you want your party to be remembered (and documented, because did it really happen if it wasn’t shared on everyone’s stories?).

When hosting a very extra backyard party, you’ll want to find a way to surprise and delight your guests. It’s the little things that add up for a memorable event: a designated photo backdrop, a meal that’s hearty but not heavy, and perhaps most importantly, the ‘gram-worthy cocktail that goes perfectly with the meal and will have the whole guest list talking.

Karleen Roy, celebrity event planner and all around vibe curator, shared her guidance on how to host that dreamy summer soirée you’ve always wanted. Add some surprises, keep your guests on their toes, and mix up a cocktail that’s a crowd pleaser. Ice, a pour of Courvoisier VSOP Cognac, another of a citrusy soda, and a garnish — it’s the secret ingredient to a memorable night. Once the food is served and the right cocktail is prepared, the party can finally commence.

Still looking for more inspiration? Find a recipe below to make your party stand out (and your guests satisfied).

Daisy Style Cocktail


3 12 parts Courvoisier VSOP​

1 part Orange Curaçao or quality Triple Sec​

1 12 parts Sirop de Gomme (or 2:1 simple syrup)​

1 part fresh lemon juice​

3 parts soda water

Lemon wheel, for garnish

A raspberry, for garnish


Step 1: Build all ingredients into a tin, except the soda. Add one hand cracked 1x1 ice cube and shake until melted.

Step 2: Pour into a double rocks glass ½ full of cobble or crushed ice and add the soda water. Then pack in extra ice and garnish with fresh fruit

Crunchy Almond-Crusted Duck with Mushroom Salad


2/3 cup honey wine or white port

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white port

3 tablespoons duck or veal demi-glace (see Note)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon chestnut honey

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 magret duck breasts (about 11 ounces each)

1/2 cup raw almonds, finely chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 pound savory mushrooms (such as maitake or chanterelle)

1 shallot, minced

1 1/2 tablespoons walnut oil

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1/2 tablespoon hazelnut oil

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1/2 pound frisée, or curly endive

torn into pieces

Cayenne pepper


Step 1: In a small saucepan, combine the honey wine with ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of the white port, the demi-glace and the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the butter and the chestnut honey and season with salt and black pepper.

Step 2: Preheat the broiler. Heat a large skillet. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar, add chopped almonds and cook to slightly sugar coat. Remove from pan and set aside. With the pan still hot, add the duck, skin side down, and cook over moderate heat until the skin is golden and crisp, 15 minutes; spoon off the fat as it accumulates in the skillet. Season the duck, then turn the breasts skin side up and cook for 7 minutes longer for medium-rare. Transfer the duck to a rimmed baking sheet, skin side up, and sprinkle with the chopped almonds, pressing to adhere.

Step 3: Transfer the duck to the center of the oven and broil for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar is caramelized; turn the baking sheet as necessary for even browning. Let the duck breasts rest before slicing.

Step 4: In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until their liquid has evaporated and they are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt and black pepper, add the shallot and cook for 1 minute longer.

Step 5: In a large bowl, whisk the walnut, grapeseed and hazelnut oils with the vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of white port. Stir in the parsley. Add the frisée and chanterelles, season with salt and cayenne pepper and toss to coat. Mound the salad on plates. Reheat the honey wine sauce. Cut the duck breasts crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and arrange them next to the salad. Drizzle the sauce all around and serve.

Enjoy Responsibly. Courvoisier® Cognac, 40% Alc./Vol., ©2021 Beam Suntory Import Co., Chicago, IL

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