A cocktail party centered around 'The Pink Panther' can be playful and creative.
By STACY DOWNS
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Pink Panther is more than just a cartoon character and popular film series. It's also an elegant yet playful state of mind.
So we pounced like an excited feline when we saw "Pink Panther Cocktail Party." The book's pages inspire visions of future happy hours at home with its cocktail recipes -- mostly pink ones, of course -- and accompanying compact disc with the ultracool "Pink Panther" theme music.
To fill in the rest of the party details, we picked the brain of James Carver, owner of the Kansas City home accessories store Aesthetica and a former creative director for Disney.
"You have to be campy and over the top like the movies were," Carver says. "And mix it with lots of pink."
Invitations should be easy to make yourself. Carver suggests going online and printing images of the Pink Panther cartoon. Include nuts-and-bolts details such as when and where, but add a hint of sophistication by asking guests to wear a bow tie and their favorite smoking jacket.
As host, you should wear eye-catching attire -- perhaps pink slippers, a pink feather boa, pink fingernails, pink lipstick and pink panther ears. Or take on the persona of Inspector Clouseau, because "there's nothing like a charmingly inept host to enliven a party," according to the book. Put on a fake nose, trip over a table leg and adjust your accent accordingly: Make sure everybody in the "rheum" has their drinks "rahfreshed."
The path to the front door should take on airs of mystery and humor. Guests can follow footprints or paw prints or a mix of both printed on your lawn. Carver recommends using watered-down white tempera paint and stencils from a craft store to create the fun illusion. Have the theme song playing outside so guests will hear it as they enter.
Deck the interior in pink. Drape pink boas on the staircase rail, buffet table and mantel. Loosely frame the bathroom mirror with the boas, too, and use pink lipstick to add a few panther prints on the glass. Use pink light bulbs in accent lamps throughout the house.
Create a pink bar. Drinks should be pink, whether they're cocktails or non-alcoholic. (See recipe on this page.) Beer-guzzling guys might scoff, but their glasses or bottles should at least get a "panther tail" -- a pink pipe cleaner that's been wrapped around a pencil to create a spiral.
Serve pink food. Appetizers can include cold shrimp with cocktail sauce and salmon spread on crackers. Cut Hostess Sno Balls, the pink coconut and marshmallow snack cakes, into four pieces and serve for dessert.
Play the movies on an endless loop in the family room. The best films in the Pink Panther series feature the fights between Clouseau and his bodyguard, Cato ("Return of the Pink Panther," "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" and "Revenge of the Pink Panther").
Don't forget take-home gifts. Carver suggests handing each guest a bag of cashews tied with a pink ribbon and a compact disc with a cocktail-lounge music mix.
"Then they'll be prepared when they have a Pink Panther moment after your party," he says.
PINK POSSIBILITIES ...
For nonalcoholic drinks:
Pink grapefruit juice
Shirley Temple (ginger ale with grenadine)
"Pink Panther Cocktail Party" by Adam Rocke (Surrey Books, $17) includes a compact disc with the Henry Mancini theme music. MGM Studios commissioned the book and other merchandise to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Pink Panther this year. Pink drinks like cosmopolitans and over-the-top 1960s accessories create a swanky atmosphere for a Pink Panther cocktail party.
SIPS AND SUDS
This drink celebrates summer and a famous cartoon character.
PINK PANTHER COOLER
1 ounce Malibu
1 ounce Alize (see note)
6 to 8 ounces pink lemonade
Shake ingredients with ice. Strain over ice into a tall glass such as a highball or Tom Collins. Garnish with a lemon wedge and cherry.
Note: Alize is a Cognac. It is available plain or mixed with fruit juices. Either variety or another type of Cognac will work.
Makes 1 serving.
-- "Pink Panther Cocktail Party by Adam Rocke"