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Drink In This Guide, and You'll Be Popular

April 16, 1998|JAN MOLEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Shaken or stirred? Hot or cold? Martin or Lewis? If the thought of throwing a party inspires a list long on questions and short on guests, party consultant and lounge singer Jaymz Bee has some advice: Start small. After a few successful parties, friends will ask to be invited.

Bee's words of wisdom come to us from the people who taught us DOS, Windows, cooking and golf. Yup--the "For Dummies" line includes "Cocktail Parties for Dummies" (IDG Books, 1997), written by Bee with Jan Gregor. Bee's clients have included filmmaker Wes Craven, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Tom Hanks and Timothy Leary.

The book's name is enough to tell you these are not Martha Stewart-style parties. Bee's bashes are warm tributes to the past. But like Stewart, Bee is a believer in the importance of details. So here are some tips from "Cocktail Parties for Dummies" to make you the toast of your party.

* Invite more women than men. Men act more dignified and less Neanderthal when outnumbered by women. And to get the party moving quickly, invite a few extroverted guests to show up early.

* A cocktail has three or more ingredients. A mixed drink has two.

* Use ice cubes for highballs and for any of the classic cocktails that are served on the rocks or in old-fashioned glasses. Shaved ice works best in drinks with straws.

* Shaken or stirred? The general rule is that all drinks made with clear ingredients should be stirred with ice, and those made with fruit juices should be shaken.

* Pour the cheaper ingredients first. If you make a mistake you won't have wasted the more expensive liquor.

* Give guests alternatives to alcohol. Serve "mocktails" such as "smartinis"--water with a twist.

* Follow hot hors d'oeuvres with cold ones. Oh, and make sure the food can be eaten with one hand.

* Cocktail napkins are a must. They serve as plate substitutes and coasters.

* Do not underestimate the importance of swizzle sticks. They're props for the guests.

* Project slides or movies on a wall.

* Guests who are standing are more likely to dance.

* A party with a television theme can be enlivened with brownies iced to look like TV remotes and a record of William Shatner's version of "Mr. Tambourine Man."

* Get guests to wear at least three of the solid colors featured on a Rubik's Cube (which you have conveniently color-copied onto the invitation). The goal is to leave the party wearing one color. That's right--clothes swapping.

* Want more inspiration? Swank-O-Rama: The Cocktail Revolution Home Page is "dedicated to better living through cocktail culture." The site features music, drink recipes and diagrams on some classic cocktail party dance steps: http://www.cyborganic.com/People/jpmckay/.

* Need a cocktail hero? Think Dean Martin as secret agent Matt Helm in "The Silencers" or Jerry Lewis as the Uberlounge lizard Buddy Love in "The Nutty Professor."

Bee's book, full of practical advice and peppered with anecdotes, is one of 450 in the "For Dummies" series. Seven years ago, "DOS for Dummies" kicked off the line and touched a nerve, says Mimi Sells, IDG Books spokeswoman. The publisher has just reached the 50-million-books-in-print mark.

Among the topics the series covers: sex, weddings, dating, gourmet cooking and figure skating. With more than 4 million copies sold, "Windows for Dummies" is the top seller. "Personal Finance for Dummies" is the No. 1 non-technical book.

What's next? Be on the lookout for books on tennis, jazz, magic and even divorce. But don't expect books on such topics as pornography or cigars, says Sells. They don't fit the company's image.

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