If you were having a cocktail party, what would be some of your requirements of a caterer?!
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catered by the iron chefs!!!
It would depend on what you're going for. Are you looking for something sophisticated? Casual? Business? Ultra elegant?
For a basic cocktail party, food is usually just appetizers. People should be mingling, so you want something they can carry around, that won't be messy. Because you're also serving alcohol, you want the food to be somewhat filling (but not too heavy). Having people drink on an empty stomach is never a good idea. A good caterer will be able to give you a range of options for this.
If you're having the caterer handle drinks as well, spring for a bartender. This is where you want to spend your cash - an open bar, with a QUALITY bartender who actually knows how to make cocktails (and not just mixed drinks).
Atmosphere? Again, depends on what you're going for. A safe bet is light music in the background - low enough so that people can hear themselves talk. Decorations aren't necessary.
As a caterer, number one priority is to be there, but not be scene. They are supposed to be behind the scene workers. They need to keep everything clean and organized, Make sure everything is filled and good looking. They should serve a special drink created just for your party. It could be any drink with a slight twist on it to reflect your party. Depending on how fancy you want it to look, black and white/all white/all black are the ways for caterers to go. its professional looking. There should be decent music in the background and room for your guests to scatter and socialize.