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Article: Brooke's Guide to Entertaining

Brooke's Guide to Entertaining

Brooke's Guide to Entertaining

Brooke throws a party the way Sandy Koufax threw a pitch: with precision, confidence, and apparent ease. Also: Hall of fame! Here are Brooke's best moves.

1. Find a color palette

I'm a blue-and-white girl. Having one color palette makes it easy; I can move things around and don't have to think. I bought blue-and-white dishes, copies of Royal Copenhagen, from Crote & Sorrel 40 years ago for our first summer on Long Island. I also sifted through the antiques fairs out East for old blue-and-white stoneware, ironware, enamelware. To reward myself after a big project, I bought blue-fluted Royal Copenhagen from Replacements. Instead of renting, we got inexpensive West Elm solid blue plates for our daughter's wedding. They're now in constant rotation. My tablecloths are blue and white. Some I had made and some are from Anthropologie. For cocktail napkins, I use the My Drap tear-off ones in stacks of indigo and scarlet.

2. Dress up

I wish I were one of those people who planned their outfits in advance, but I usually decide about five minutes before. I think of what jewelry I want to wear first. The other night, it was my ebony and gold necklace layered with a Zodiac pendant on a new prototype chain, and new Anjou earrings. And, of course, Eve bracelets – always. I wore a vintage Prada full skirt painted with an image of Venice, a voile shirt, and flat sandals.

3. Add flowers

I love flowers, and want them to look easy and unfussy, as if a more talented me did them. I like heaps of sunflowers in ironstone pitchers on the bar and side tables. But on the dinner table everything is low: dipped Rowers from the garden in the beautiful small vases Carey Lowell makes. Sometimes I scatter the table with shells, and Lisa Eisner's brass candle holders that look like a splash. I love having all the different textures.

4. Clink Glasses

My attitude about drinks is: lots. I ask the waiters to stand at the entrance with a troy of drinks. In summer, it's Domaines Ott rose, sparkling water, and margaritas – either classic or passion fruit.

 

 

5. Amaze the Bouche

We've worked with the some caterer, David Ziff, for 35 years, and that relationship is really important to me. We're very specific: about the hors d'oeuvres: you have to be able to pop them in your mouth in one bite. I also like the food to look like food, nothing too precious or decorative. We always serve caramelized bacon, mini lobster rolls, vegetable spring rolls, fried oysters, chicken rolled in macadamia nuts, and barbecued brisket on tiny brioche.

6. Dinner is served

Peter Berley has cooked for us for 25 years, and he's exceptional. I don't even ask him what he's serving because I trust him completely. I love starting with a cold soup, like cucumber or gazpacho, drizzled with a little oil and a bit of cucumber. We always have corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes in summer. Everything is fresh and local.

7. Dance, dance, dance

I always want people to dance after dinner, which means a DJ. I'm lucky enough to have Jon Neidich, DJ-extraordinaire, right in the family. I hold off on serving dessert because it usually signals the end of the party. I like to keep the fun going. Passing shots of tequila on trays helps with a second wind. My goal is to get a pizza oven and serve pizza glomped with caviar late in the evening. No one will want to leave!

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