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Kickstart summer celebrations with winning cocktails and canapés

Cocktails and canapes

Dare to pair: Amanda’s favourite cocktail-and-canapé combinations

There’s nothing better than serving a special cocktail at a barbecue, Christmas party, or as the kick-off for a lunch or dinner with friends. Here, Fresh Ideas expert Amanda teams up individual cocktail recipes with a matching canapé recipe to create maximum party appeal with minimum fuss. Pick one winning duo or wow a larger crowd by combining two or three cocktails and canapés for a wider selection.

Amanda expert




“The Australian party season is here, and everyone’s ready to kick up their heels and celebrate some well-earned downtime! For me, nothing kicks off proceedings better than a refreshing cocktail. For a small gathering – say, for a ‘Friend-mas’ lunch or barbecue – I’ll pick one as an icebreaker to serve with a canapé or two. For a bigger Christmas party, I offer guests a couple of cocktail choices, and at least one mocktail; the Pomegranate vodka spritz and Elderflower gin sour are just as delicious without the alcohol!”

– Amanda

Cocktails and canapes


Lime, apple and coriander South Side with pork sliders

Pork and apple are a match made in heaven, and the zingy, clean flavours of lime, apple and coriander in this South Side perfectly complement these rich char siu pork and coleslaw sliders. If I’m catering for a crowd and want to keep costs down, swapping the brioche sliders for sliced white bread works beautifully – just prepare a batch of sandwiches, then slice them into bite-sized fingers. For extra party panache, I cut off the crusts, too!

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Rose sangria


Rosé sangria with goat-cheese strawberries

While sangria is a classic Spanish and Portuguese beverage, I’ve given this one a moreish twist by adding fragrant spices. These gorgeous strawberry bites, with their creamy coating and herby pistachio crust, are the ideal little bites to serve with this pretty-as-a-picture cocktail. If you have some leftover soft pitted dates handy, try splitting and filling them with the goat-cheese mixture, then topping them with the pistachio and basil crumb; it makes for a tasty alternative.

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Pomegranate vodka


Pomegranate vodka spritz with sweet potato crostini

This is a cocktail that’s ideal to serve with or without the alcohol. Just top up the glasses with the equivalent amount of soda water or pomegranate juice. If you can’t find pomegranate arils, lightly crushed raspberries or chopped pitted cherries will look and taste just as good. When you’re cooking the sweet potato rounds, it’s worth checking their doneness before the 25 minutes is up, as you want them to be tender but still firm enough to support that luscious topping.

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Peach bellini


Frozen peach Bellini with charcuterie skewers

This cocktail is simplicity itself; plus, you can freeze the drained jarred peach slices for up to three weeks in advance! In a nod to the cocktail’s Italian origins, I’ve matched it with bite-sized takes on antipasti: cute charcuterie skewers of brie, salami and basil, which, like the cocktail, are so simple, elegant and delicious. Choose any style of salami you like and if you want to swap out the brie with small chunks of parmesan or Taleggio, go for it!

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Elderflower fin sour


Elderflower gin sour with salmon and beetroot bites

This cocktail is so summery, with its frothy egg-white topping and fragrant floral notes of elderflower and rose. I’ve matched it here with a colourful combo of complementary flavours and textures – crisp cucumber rounds, sweet and earthy beetroot hummus, smoked salmon and fennel. This is another tipple that’s just as delicious served alcohol-free – simply leave out the gin and replace it with ½ cup of clear apple juice. And, if I don’t feel like separating eggs, I use Puregg free range liquid egg whites (or aquafaba for my vegan guests).

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Colada sunrise


Colada sunrise with spiced nuts

This cocktail is a tropical summer in a glass. While it’s ‘sunrise’ by name, I reckon it’s perfect for toasting a glorious sunset. To keep costs down – especially if you’re budgeting for a larger gathering – replace the nut mix with well-drained, rinsed canned chickpeas. Combine them in the same way on the prepared baking tray with the paprika and olive oil, then give them an extra 5 minutes or so in the oven to crisp up nicely.

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These drink recipes contain alcohol. Please consume responsibly. The elderflower gin sour contains raw eggs and may not be suitable for all customers.

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