One of the things we often hear from those who’ve attended G&G events is that we know how to throw a good party. Over the years we’ve had quite a few memorable shindigs, from Bloody Mary brunches to Lowcountry boils, though the high-water mark was set by our tenth anniversary bash this past April at our office in Charleston, South Carolina, complete with an oyster bar, a whole hog, and the highlight of the night, a brass band straight from New Orleans. But as anyone on the editorial team can tell you, you don’t need to bring in entertainment from beyond state lines for a rocking time.
Style Director Haskell Harris believes in getting folks involved as soon as they arrive. “It’s a good way to get over any initial awkwardness,” she says. In her case, this means putting guests to work dicing veggies or cutting limes for the cocktail pitcher. (I can attest that Harris’s party libation of choice, homemade limeade and vodka, gets the festivities rolling quickly and is simple to serve.) Executive Managing Editor Phillip Rhodes never hosts a gathering without a bowl full of bacon crackers, a recipe from the pages of G&G. He also swears by finishing preparations fifteen minutes prior to the first guest’s arrival, allowing him time for a deep breath and a Manhattan. At Photography Director Maggie Kennedy’s house, it would not be a party without a Newsom’s country ham from Kentucky, a very Southern centerpiece for the appetizer spread. Deputy Editor Amanda Heckert loves to use serving pieces that have been passed down in her family, including a vintage cut-glass platter with scalloped edges her grandmother owned. “During the holidays, she always had chocolate-dipped Ritz cracker cookies, peanut butter balls, and her signature item—peanut brittle—on the table, waiting,” she says. These days Heckert uses the platter to showcase her five-flavor pound cake. Of course, you can’t forget the music. Design Director Marshall McKinney likes North Mississippi Hill Country blues—R. L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough—to set the right vibe.Each of us has our own go-to move for hosting guests. For a big afternoon get-together, I favor a slow-cooked pork butt. I don’t do anything particularly fancy. I slather an eight-pound bone-in butt in yellow mustard, add a healthy dose of dry rub, and drop it in the Big Green Egg at 250 degrees the night before to slow cook for twelve hours. Meanwhile there’s plenty of time to get other party chores done, including whipping up an Eastern North Carolina–style vinegar-pepper sauce. By the time guests show up, I’ve got a serving tray full of pulled pork and a side of white bread waiting.
In the end, as any of the hosts in our “Crowd Pleasers” can tell you, it’s all about making your guests comfortable and, whether it’s by tending the smoker through the night or breaking out your grandmother’s prized serving dishes, letting them know you care.