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Dec 22, 201511:08 AM
Bon Vivant

Design, entertaining and good living with New Orleans Bride and Homes & Lifestyles editor Melanie Warner Spencer

Progressive dinner party makes entertaining a cinch

melanie warner spencer

Last month, one of our neighbors suggested a progressive dinner party for our building-wide Christmas gathering. Her thinking was this way, no one person had too much responsibility. It was a brilliant idea. I volunteered to do cocktails at my place; the neighbor across from us did appetizers; one upstairs neighbor did the entrée; and finally we went across the hall for dessert. The beauty, beyond less work, is the party gains a natural rhythm with each course and corresponding change of location.

It was a fun and relaxing evening. We’ve all agreed to do it again soon. It would be easy to coordinate in a neighborhood setting as well, as long as each house was no more than a block or so away.

For anyone looking to make an easy, but delicious cocktail, here’s my recipe for the one I made at the party:


Rosemary Satsuma Punch

  • 6 to 8 satsumas, juiced
  • (I peel them, toss in the blender, then strain the juice from the pulp to keep it easy)
  • Rosemary infused simple syrup to taste
  • (Combine one part water, one part sugar and a few sprigs of rosemary, simmer until clear and let it sit until ready to add. Be sure to remove the rosemary before putting it into the mixture)
  • 2 cups of your preferred vodka
  • 3 or 4 healthy dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Club soda to taste

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, stir and serve. I garnished each glass with a sprig of rosemary and kept a few sprigs in the pitcher. The club soda is mainly for fizz, so feel free to omit it. For a brunch version, use champagne in place of vodka and omit the club soda.


Thank you to our neighbor Kara for introducing us to this fabulous way to have a party.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and season’s greetings (or insert appropriate greeting for however and whatever you celebrate), Bon Vivant readers. I’m grateful that you lend me your eyeballs every week for a few minutes. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I enjoy writing them and sharing throughout the year. If you try the cocktail, let me know what you think. Cheers to all of you!




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Bon Vivant

Design, entertaining and good living with New Orleans Bride and Homes & Lifestyles editor Melanie Warner Spencer


Melanie Warner Spencer is a native Kentuckian, but says she got to New Orleans as fast as she could. For more than 16 years, Melanie has covered lifestyle, design and entertainment at various publications, serving as the design columnist at The Austin American-Statesman, a senior staff reporter at the Houston Chronicle and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Houston Brides magazine. Her work also has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post and Reuters in the United States and across the globe. In her spare time, Melanie is an award-winning fine art photographer and has been honored by the Texas Press Association for her editorial photography. She also has been honored by the Press Club of New Orleans for its Excellence in Journalism Awards and is currently serving as a media member of the board of directors. Cooking and eating fabulous food and taking road trips with her spouse of 16 years, fellow writer and filmmaker Mark Patrick Spencer however, is at the top of her list of favorite pastimes. Click here to like Spencer's Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @MelanieSpencer. 


You can reach her at melanie@myneworleans.com.




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