open mic . . . here’s to pop (soda, that is)

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By Marianne Canada



I’ve always been a party girl.


Even in college, amidst kegs of Natural Light and trashcans filled with a scary “punch” (aside—haven’t we evolved to learn not to drink out of waste receptacles?), I threw cocktail parties and required the boys to wear TIES. And better yet; they came, ties and all, because this girl? She throws a great party.


My motto is “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth over doing.” That means hand-iced gingerbread snowflake ornaments as party favors for a Christmas party, or collecting cigar boxes until I have enough to serve a boxed lunch picnic at a bridal shower. It means making a batch of mini empanadas a week for a month, or an epic tower of miniature meatball sandwiches. Broomstick bags filled with candy corn and a photo booth for a kid’s Halloween party—no detail is too small.


Having a child has had an interesting effect on my social life. Fewer kick-the-guests-out-at-3 a.m. soirees and more casual get togethers. But the best thing about having a kid, when it comes to entertaining? There are no limits.


Want to have a party where everyone wears a tutu? Totally fine. Want to make an enormous rainbow-striped cake? Go for it. And in the case of my daughter Lulu’s first birthday party, why NOT make the theme Vintage Soda? Random, sure, but the candy colors and potential for mixed drink experimenting was too hard to resist. Armed with a fantastic Nehi Soda-inspired birthday invite and a stunning selection of retro sodas, I rounded out the party with a bubble machine to keep things carbonated. And why not decorate the cake with Bottle Cap candy? Load the kids up with sugar, it’s a party.


But back to those sodas, the wild flavors, along with the assorted mini liquor bottles I had stashed for the grown-ups, led to some inspired cocktail recipes. And before you raise an eyebrow at serving mixed drinks at a kids party, I am a firm believer that the parents should be rewarded handsomely for dealing with so many children in the throes of sugar mania. But I digress, let’s get back to those drinks. Orange soda + vanilla vodka? Meet the “Sweet Dreamsicle.” Cola + Cherry Vodka = the “Chuck Berry.” We rounded out the drink menu with the “Tartie Partie” (cherry limeade with citrus vodka) and the “Rootie Bootie” (root beer and rum).


People think you have to have a little bit of crazy if you throw parties with this level of detail, and honestly they aren’t wrong. But it’s kind of my thing, and I like to think that it makes everyone involved feel like they are part of something special, even if only for a handful of hours.




Marianne Canada is the Special Projects Editor for and blogs at Looks Good From the Back. She loves glitter.