From clas­sic cock­tails to ca­banossi, party food is get­ting a retro twist.

Add a lit­tle vin­tage glam­our to your en­ter­tain­ing this party sea­son. GE­ORGINA SAFE re­ports on the retro trend that is see­ing soirees serv­ing fare from ca­banossi to clas­sic cock­tails – all with a mod­ern twist

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents - Find retro recipes at de­li­

It’s the time of the year when thoughts turn to un­wind­ing over af­ter-work cock­tails, pool par­ties, beach bar­be­cues, balmy sun­set soirees and yes, even the dreaded of­fice Christ­mas party.

But while the fes­tive sea­son is upon us, this year it’s with a de­cid­edly retro twist. Punch is hip, vol-au-vents are back, clas­sic cock­tails are cool and retro food is be­ing up­dated in sexy ways. So crack out the ca­banossi, mix the mar­ti­nis and get ready to party like it’s 1969.

“A vol-au-vent or a new take on apri­cot chicken is guar­an­teed to put a warm, fuzzy smile back on our di­als, while vin­tage punches or clas­sic cock­tails cap­ture the so­phis­ti­ca­tion and ele­gance of a by­gone age,” says Masterchef judge and de­li­cious. se­nior ed­i­tor Matt Pre­ston.

Chef Dan Pep­perell, who in­cludes ver­sions of clas­sic French recipes such as chicken fric­as­see and oeufs en gelee on his menu at Syd­ney’s Restaurant Hu­bert, says the ap­peal of retro en­ter­tain­ing is its abil­ity to evoke rose-tinted re­flec­tions.

“Retro is like a trip down mem­ory lane when it comes to flavour com­bi­na­tions, places and peo­ple,” he says. “It’s com­fort food that takes you back to happy times gone by.”

Old-school cock­tails work well to kick­start the sea­son – pa­per um­brel­las and maraschino cher­ries op­tional.

“It’s a known fact that pina co­ladas taste 64 per cent bet­ter on the first day of your sum­mer hol­i­day,” laughs Chris Hysted-adams, gen­eral man­ager of Mel­bourne bar Black Pearl.

Start things off with a bowl of punch, sug­gests Luke Ash­ton, co-founder of Syd­ney bar This Must Be The Place. “The way peo­ple so­cialised in the ’60s and ’70s was much more cen­tred around IRL [in real life] in­ter­ac­tions rather than in the so­cial me­dia space, and peo­ple in­evitably came to­gether over the punch bowl,” Ash­ton says. “A retro-style punch is well suited to par­ties be­cause it can be pre­pared ahead of time, is easy to ex­e­cute and doesn’t re­quire a bartender.”

He ad­vises tak­ing retro punch recipes and mak­ing them lighter and more re­fresh­ing by us­ing cold-pressed juices and switch­ing dark spir­its such as rum for lighter op­tions like Aperol and gin.

“You can even switch out your juices for lighter-style teas, co­conut wa­ter or maple wa­ter, then re­place syrups with shrubs [a tart syrup made from fruit and vine­gar] and gar­nish your punch with fresh herbs like lemon­grass or kaf­fir lime leaves,” Ash­ton says.

He re­ports a rise in the or­der­ing of clas­sic cock­tails such as the mar­tini, Old Fash­ioned, Man­hat­tan and Brook­lyn in his bar, as does Ryan Lane, gen­eral man­ager of The Gre­sham in Bris­bane. “The Old Fash­ioned rules the roost and we would make well over 100 a night,” he says, while Hysted-adams serves up to 500 es­presso mar­ti­nis per week.

“It’s good to keep things rel­a­tively sim­ple,” says Porteño and Bodega restau­rants co-founder Elvis Abra­hanow­icz. “One punch and one cock­tail is per­fect.”

When it comes to what to serve with those drinks, choose a retro dish that has a per­sonal mem­ory for you.

“If your fam­ily didn’t serve ca­banossi and cheese cubes stuck into a pineap­ple, don’t serve it,” says Jake Smyth, coowner of The Uni­corn, Mary’s and the Lans­downe Ho­tel. “Retro is about rem­i­nisc­ing and re­con­nect­ing with the things that per­son­ally made you happy, so make some­thing as close as you can to your grand­fa­ther’s four-bean-mix salad or your nanna’s ’70s tuna casse­role, but give it a con­tem­po­rary twist.”

Do­ing retro well is about tak­ing the best mem­o­ries and cut­ting out the bad.

“My par­ents would get any old chook and cook it ter­ri­bly, but at the Uni­corn we use free range Ban­nock­burn chick­ens and re­ally fo­cus on cook­ing them well,” Smyth says.

Matt Pre­ston gives a so­phis­ti­cated edge to devils on horse­back, for which he par-cooks baby brus­sels sprouts then grills and wraps them in ba­con and serves them with a very up-to-date miso al­mond but­ter, but gen­er­ally he prefers com­mu­nal dishes over fid­dly fin­ger food.

“I’d rather serve a shared retro main dish, as the prob­lem with retro canapes is they can be fid­dly and very time­con­sum­ing to make,” he says.

Pep­perell says a fon­due is al­ways a fun shared party dish, and also sug­gests cov­er­ing a wa­ter­melon with skew­ers of olives, cheese, an­chovies and pick­led pep­pers as a strik­ing fin­ger food op­tion.

“There’s also a weird one I did once called ‘ants on a log’ where you fill a piece of cel­ery with bran­dade then put lit­tle bits of olives on the top to look like ants on a log,” he laughs.

Trends in­spired by the clas­sics is some­thing we’ve ex­plored in de­li­cious. as Ed­i­tor-in-chief Ker­rie Mccal­lum ex­plains: “We have no­ticed so many retro favourites be­ing made more so­phis­ti­cated. In our De­cem­ber is­sue [out now] of the monthly magazine we’ve mod­ernised the tra­di­tional tri­fle – think rhubarb and ginger­bread – and up­dated the punch with new blends. I can’t wait to pull out the punch bowl.”

Then fin­ish the night in style. “The per­fect dessert cock­tail is the es­presso mar­tini,” says Grey Goose vodka global brand am­bas­sador Joe Mc­canta. His recipe com­bines Grey Goose, fresh es­presso cof­fee, a dash of cof­fee liqueur and a pinch of sea salt. “Give it a re­ally great shake and serve into a cock­tail glass and en­joy the foamy crema.”

VIN­TAGE VIBE Bring back quiche with our re­vamped sweet potato, feta and caramelised onion ver­sion. Recipe at de­li­

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