Ali Larter on How To Throw a Summer Soiree

Ali Larter - The Art of La Soiree Cointreau Celebration - Getty - H 2017
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The actress favors "theme-lite" parties and embracing the mistakes when they happen.

Liquor brand Cointreau hosted its annual The Art of La Soirée event on Wednesday night, this year celebrating the classic margarita. The Acapulco-inspired evening started off with an interactive cocktail demonstration, where guests learned to make a simple margarita as well as a spicy jalapeno cilantro version. Actress Ali Larter donned a breezy Maria Lucia Hohan dress and L’Dezen diamond drop earrings to play hostess at The Fig House near Highland Park, where she mingled with guests enjoying mini tamales and grilled pineapple skewers in between turns in the photo booth.

The Cointreau Art of La Soirée Tour hosts celebrations coast to coast where attendees can learn about the art of entertaining. Pret-a-Reporter sat down with Larter, who is also a cookbook author, to chat about how to throw a memorable party and the perfect hostess gifts to give. 

What is your go-to dinner and cocktail?

It depends on the season. I am definitely inspired by what’s at the farmers market, and I think now we are at the easiest time to throw dinner parties because all you have to do is slice up a ripe tomato with a little burrata and have some fresh watermelon. One of the things I love about doing margaritas is a lot of people think you are just having chips and guacamole. No! I would do it with a marinated short rib taco. I love spice in my margaritas, and I like to put a jalapeno in my tequila and let it sit for one to three days. And then it’s just an easy two-to-one ratio for a margarita: 2 oz. tequila, 1 oz. lime juice and 1 oz. Cointreau and shake it up. It’s so easy, especially for the summertime, and it makes you feel like your workday is over and it’s time to play.

What makes a party memorable? 

I throw parties all the time, and so much about entertaining is the environment that you are in. I am someone who is even up for coming home from a bar and doing some beautiful omelets for people late-night or a fondue for brunch. I adore entertaining, and I love finding ways to pick food, pick cocktails and get an interesting group of friends together. 

How do you keep themed parties from being cheesy?

Theme-lite. I’m not big on themes. Even for floral arrangements, I think it’s chic-er to go into your garden and get all kinds of greens and put them together in different jars. There is something to having things look effortless that relaxes people at a party. I do get a little silly over holiday stuff, I enjoy that. But overall, I am about things that feel more organic and feel easy, just one or two pops, but not silliness.  

What is your favorite part about hosting? 

I’ve loved entertaining my whole life. My cousin owns a restaurant in Northern California, and whenever we are together during the holidays we are cooking. My grandfather was a farmer and he would bring home tomatoes and corn and we would sit on the deck with him. Food, to me, has that aspect of connecting you with friends and family. When I started off on my own at 17, it was my way of creating those environments. Over the years, what I’ve learned is that I always tried so hard that the pressure kind of spoiled the event. What has become an overall theme in my life lately is loving the mistakes and embracing the things that don’t go as planned — that’s where you can find a sweet spot. 

It’s hard to know what to get a host or hostess. What’s something you have given or received that you love? 

Beardy Boys, they make a pecan smash that I gave away for Father’s Day because we were going to someone’s house and I thought it was lovely. But I love almond butter or jelly or pecan butters, too! A beautiful candle is always great. I keep pre-done gifts on my closet; I am always running late and I have two kids at home and am a working mom and I don’t just want to overspend on a bottle of wine. So I have some margarita kits I’ll bring, which is why I am so happy to be here — it’s a natural relationship!