The Kindred Spirits Party
Two years ago, we had a wild idea we thought would make our work holiday party a bit more special.
We didn’t know if it would work out, if people would enjoy it and get into it, or if everyone would show up empty handed and ill prepared. Would it be a success or a hot mess? It was a toss up.
Today, we can tell you that our abstract, poorly defined idea for a cocktail-making party turned out to be a wild success.
The gathering, aptly named “Kindred Spirits,” quickly became one of our favorite events of the year.
People didn’t simply show up or phone it in, they spent gobs of time crafting their unique contributions. People didn’t sit back as guests, they became a part of the performance and brought the party to life. People were hooked, and so were we.
After a few pilot parties, we’ve decided to share the details with you, so that you can host magical cocktail-making gatherings with the people you love the most.
Here’s how a Kindred Spirits gathering works…
1. Design Your Gathering
Think about the type of gathering you’d like to host. Are you hosting a group of people who already know each other? Friends celebrating a birthday or other occasion? Interested in throwing a themed party, such as Austin Powers or Galentine’s?
Invite 4-10 people who are familiar with each other. Preferably, they all get along and hold a special fondness for the others involved. You’d think that goes without saying, but… It’s important that the people involved have a level of creative confidence to perform their cocktails, or that they have a level of psychological safety with the others involved to get creative and silly.
More than 10 people makes for a lengthy gathering, so keep it small. Remember, you can always host multiple Kindred Spirits parties. In fact, it’s likely that you’ll want to!
At least 30 days ahead of time, each person will secretly select (or be assigned) another invitee to make a cocktail for. We pull names out of a silly hat — make sure you don’t get your own name!
Optional: ask everyone to dress up for the occasion because you’ll want to take loads of photos!
2. Everyone Crafts a Special Drink Inspired by the Person They Selected
Everyone spends time thinking about the person they selected in an effort to create a unique cocktail inspired by them. You can riff off of an existing recipe or create your own from scratch.
Suggested guidelines + tips:
5 ingredients or less!
Practice and write down your recipe to share later.
Communicate that everything is BYO. If it’s helpful, you can limit spending with a suggested budget.
To make it easier (and cheaper overall) you can all agree to use the same liquor or alcohol and the host can buy in bulk.
The host should make snacks since everyone is expected to bring the booze.
Every drink has a “garnish” — go big or go home!
Name your cocktail.
Prepare notes for your performance and practice a few times creating and taste testing the cocktail you’ve designed.
Use special glassware or get creative — one year I created a drink in an iced Starbucks cup!
3. Perform Your Cocktail
It’s not enough to simply create a cocktail recipe based on the person you selected. You also have to create a story to tell while you perform the act of crafting that cocktail recipe in front of the other guests.
You might choose to recite a poem or write your own. Each of your ingredients might connect to the characteristics of the person you’re creating the drink for. You might create a fabulous garnish that emphasizes and takes the experience to the next level.
In increments of 15-20 minutes (depending on how many people are involved), create a lineup for each person to perform their cocktails.
The host (or a few volunteers) should record the key points of each cocktail: the maker, the receiver, the name, recipe and garnish, as well as a few descriptors of what it was.
4. Everyone Drinks!
Once a cocktail has been crafted, it gets photographed (if you like!) and then passed around for everyone to drink. If anyone is squeamish about drinking from the same cup, you can pour into individual glasses to share.
5. Vote on the Winners!
After everyone has taken a turn, refer back to your notes. It’s time to name winners!
You can keep the awards a surprise or let your guests know ahead of time. It can be fun to create special awards (like silly paper plate medals!), or you can keep it simple with verbal recognition — whatever works for your gathering.
Feel free to create your own award categories. In the past, we’ve used: Best Name, Best Garnish, Best Story, Best Performance, Best Taste, and Best Overall.
People can win in more than one category — this is where things get competitive!
6. Share with Everyone
When the party is finished, circulate the photos, recipes and stories from each of the cocktails with those who attended. You might even take things a step further and create a cocktail recipe book!
Share your photos on Instagram using the hashtag #kindredspiritsparty We’ve love to see how your gathering turns out!
Hosting your own Kindred Spirits party? Let us know how it goes!