The real quiet sets in after December, when the sparkle of the holidays recedes and the dark cold whispers to burrow in until spring. But not all heed the call. Among those that resist are friends and frequent party co-conspirators Jacqueline Fortier and Kelly Dorow.
“Most people have a preconceived notion of what holiday gatherings should be,” says Fortier, an interior designer. “But in January or February, there’s more of an opportunity to offer guests a unique experience without the pressure of meeting anyone’s expectations. Carte blanche, if you will.”
The duo share an old-world aesthetic and eye for detail that makes their soirees sparkle. But they avoid complicating the festivities by collaborating on themes and décor and then each taking the lead in their respective areas of expertise.
Fortier is a skilled cook who plans the menu and prepares all the food (if there are crackers on the cheese plate, she probably made them), while Dorow, a photographer, puts together the still-life-like bar, a special cocktail, and a preplanned playlist to set the mood.
Beeswax candles set in mismatched vintage holders are always part of the mix and often the only light source, especially when the friends host in Dorow’s atmospheric 1863 Paris-inspired Cathedral Hill apartment. “Candles invite intimacy and warmth, which is delicious, especially in winter. Even the act of lighting a candle creates a moment,” says Fortier. Silver, china, and linen are de rigueur for the pair, who believe formal and fun are not incompatible notions.
The spark to plan a party can come from the season, the realization that they haven’t seen certain friends in a while, or even a run-of-the-mill weeknight takeout dinner with their teenage daughters. “Sometimes it’s just the four of us, and it’s the same thing with china, candles, and flowers,” Dorow says. The ordinary made extraordinary.
Winter White Menu
- Potato leek soup
- Roasted endive salad with goat cheese
- Biscuits with edible herbs and flowers
- Assorted cheeses served with pink grapefruit and champagne jelly
- Baked pears with honey and vanilla bean
- Butter pound cake with meringue, white strawberries, and rose petals
Mezcal with Rosemary on Fire Cocktail
Recipe courtesy of Seth Bellow, bartender at Estelle, St. Paul
- 1½ oz. mezcal
- ½ oz. lime juice
- 1½ oz. pineapple juice
- ¼ oz. simple syrup
- ¾ oz. yellow Chartreuse
- Charred rosemary sprig
- Dash of Angostura bitters
- 1 oz. Prosecco
- Char rosemary on stovetop.
- Soak in yellow Chartreuse 2–4 days.
- Shake all ingredients except prosecco with ice.
- Add prosecco to bottom of glass.
- Pour mixed drink into glass from shaker.
- Add rosemary sprig.
- Light rosemary on fire for smoke.
Styling by Liz Gardner & Food styling by Jacqueline Fortier