RoCK on the cocktail hour
No, Robert of Cross Keys and I did not discuss our dovetailing posts today. It's just, of course, that great minds think alike. Here's RoCK. EL
I go to conferences from time to time, and I’m noticing that the number of people participating in the cocktail hour is dwindling. Instead, the attendees make a bee-line to the buffet. Often times they are setting up camp in the dining room an hour before the meal service is even scheduled to begin. I’m not sure why. The food is usually something like chicken parm and eight different kinds of pasta. (These are not AIG conferences.) ...
At least these conferences still go through the motion of offering a cocktail hour, even if the atmosphere ends up like being at an airport bar in a place like Harrisburg, Penn. around 10 Sunday night. Most dining establishments, however, have long abandoned the practice. Now any restaurant will certainly encourage you to have a drink at the bar, but a cocktail hour shouldn’t simply be about biding time with booze.
There’s a sense of social obligation with the cocktail hour, and maybe that’s why the practice has gone out of favor. People go out more than ever now, but they do so in a very insular way. There is very little expectation that when you go out that you’ll interact with those outside of your own party. With a true cocktail hour you are expected to mingle and meet people. It is not meant to be a chore, but it does require a little bit of effort.
That effort comes not just from those with drinks in their hands. It also comes from the host. In addition to having good drinks and snacks, the cocktail hour needs to be an integral part of the evening. Cocktails at 6 and dinner at 7 creates the sense that you are going out for the evening, not just for a meal.
A place that still does a cocktail hour, and they do it well, is the Antrim 1844 in Taneytown. There’s a lot to love about the Antrim. The food and the atmosphere there are among the best in Maryland, (click here to see some photos the wife took on our recent visit there), but it is the cocktail hour there that is my favorite.
The cocktail hour there is just very special. The drinks are flowing and the hors d'oeuvres are being passed. (Normally when I’m experiencing something like this I had to buy something off a registry for some couple.) The best part, however, is that you feel like being social. You want to strike up a conversation with perfect strangers.
You understand the fun of going out is more than just leaving your house to get something to eat.
(Kathryn Whitney/Sun photographer)