Geoff Bartakovics on the Secrets to a Successful Party

by Eddie Roche
There’s no shortage of parties on the cal this month, so we reached out to Geoff Bartakovics, co-founder of Tasting Table, for his expert opinion on how to be the perfect guest and host. 

What are your secrets to success for any party?
A good mix of people with different backgrounds (some loud, some introverted, some creative class, some bankers, some old, some fresh, etc.) and heavy pours to soften folks’ filters plus a rousing playlist equals a good time had by all.

How do you mix up the guest list?
A perfect guest list shares many characteristics with the attendees of a high school prom. Different factions that wouldn’t otherwise mix are present—the cool kids, nerds, thespians, and jocks—and there’s enough guests from each group to create baseline comfort for everyone to feel okay showing up. You don’t want to invite just one investment banker to a party of conceptual artists; he’ll be lost in the sea of Comme des Garcons for H&M asymmetrical sweater sets. But there’s enough different tribes present to create unexpected matches when groups collide as the night proceeds. I prefer a ratio of 2:1 extroverts to introverts and 1:1 enlightenment thinkers (science is the answer!) to romantics (progress is an illusion!). And always remember to sprinkle the guest list with a few loose extras (“what planet did SHE come from?!”) and chameleons (chatter boxes who can talk to anyone) to galvanize those collisions among tribes.

How much booze should you get?
There are countless “booze calculators” on the internet that will consider all the variables involved in deciding how much of each type of booze to buy. But remember that liquor has a long shelf life, so you won’t regret buying a few extra liters of Patron to ensure the night goes off. But you will regret the obvious shame of your selfish life priorities when everyone’s buzz wears off an hour short of closing time because you decided to divert $100 toward your shoe fund. Shoes don’t send you thank you texts that begin, “You really know how to live.”

Thoughts on how to make a holiday party memorable?
Party memories are made when something unexpected occurs in a way that interrupts the mind’s expectations about what comes next. You’re seated at a classy candelabra style dinner party finishing the cheese course and waiting for the finger bowls to come out. “I bet someone is about to pass a tray of macarons and that guy in the tacky blazer is going to start rambling about his holiday in St. Bart’s.” Instead, the dining room is thrown open and a mariachi band dressed as Santa’s Helpers appear playing Mexican covers of Radiohead. Memory. Made.

What do you bring a host as a gift?
If you can’t bring an attractive younger guest who’s into older men, forget the host gift. Instead, hop on Seamless the following morning and have a couple greasy breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and grapefruit juice delivered. When you get the push notification that your breakfast has been delivered, drop a text that says “Hope you enjoy the breakfast. You really know how to live. XX”

What’s your take on “ghosting” at a party?
You may slip out without saying farewell if any of these conditions are true: a) you were not served food, b) there are more than 50 guests still in attendance, c) more than one friend has told you’re getting blackout. Otherwise, sidle up beside the host while s/he’s being cornered by some desperate Debbie and whisper “don’t want to make a scene, but I’ve got a conference call with Japan at 5 a.m.” then quickly back up while making the international “call me” gesture.

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