When entertaining, arrange your drinks attractively. People make a beeline for any food or drink that is eye-catching. For example, use a punch bowl with floating fruit or an ice ring made with a tube-cake pan.
At the dinner table it is festive to offer appealing alternatives such as mineral water, carbonated or not, or bottled grape juice.
In some circles it's rather new to serve a combination of juices with dinner, such as equal parts grape juice and cranberry juice with a dash of lemon for tartness.
Sparkling cider is a pleasant alternative, and is sweet but not too sweet. Sparkling Catawba is excellent, and some prefer it to the non-carbonated Catawba grape drinks because they are less sweet.
At dinner parties have glasses for both water and another beverage at the table. Fill each water glass, restaurant style, and have the water pitcher on the buffet or serving table, refilling as needed. Keep bottled beverages available with water pitcher and ice cubes in summer.
When it comes to glasses for parties, invest in plain, cheap, mass-produced glassware. Buy the straight-edged type of glass. Buy more than you need to allow for breakage.
You will need at least one-third more glasses than people. Consider renting, if you're having a large party and don't have enough.
To keep drinks cold, make sure ingredients have been refrigerated beforehand. If using a blender, chill the jar, too.
For drinks with ice, have five pounds of ice for every 15 guests. You can make ice cubes ahead and store them in plastic bags.
Try adding to each ice cube a garnish, small leaves such as mint or small slices of fruit. When serving cranberry or other juice, freezing cubes of the juice will mean the drink won't be as diluted as with plain ice cubes.
Remember to add ice just before serving, not any earlier.
If you want to make large cubes of ice for your punch bowl, use odd-size cans , such as frozen-juice tins. These will float in the punch bowl and melt more slowly. When making these large cubes, let the water sit for 15 minutes to expel any air bubbles. Stir occasionally. Otherwise, the ice blocks will be cloudy and less attractive.
Everybody seems to want a good punch recipe. This is one to try. Sweeten to taste. You can save it, and used it over and over. The mint and lime give a pleasant nip, but you can vary the garnish according to season, using citrus in winter, berries and melon balls in spring and summer. Big Party Punch 3 large tins unsweetened pineapple juice, 48 oz. 3 cups fresh orange juice 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice 1/3 cup lime juice 2 cups granulated sugar (optional) 1 cup fresh mint leaves, lightly packed Ice block, or ice ring, frozen in tube-cake pan 2 large bottles ginger ale, 28 oz. 1 large bottle soda water, 28 oz. 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled, halved Slices orange, lemon, lime
Combine juices, sugar, and mint leaves. Chill at least 2 hours. Strain or remove mint leaves. Place ice in punch bowl. Carefully add ginger ale and soda water at edge of bowl. Add strawberries and float fruit slices on top. Makes about 80 servings.
Yogurt, whirled in the blender and combined with almost any kind of fresh fruit and cracked ice, makes an easy shake. Cantaloupe Cooler 1 cup unflavored yogurt 1 cup peeled and seeded cantaloupe chunks 1/2 cup cracked ice 2 to 3 tablespoons honey or sugar 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 egg (optional)
Combine and blend in blender until smooth. Yield: 2 cups. Fresh Peach Frosty 1 cup unflavored yogurt 1 cup sliced fresh peaches or nectarines 1/2 cup cracked ice 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 to 3 tablespoons honey or sugar 1 egg (optional)
Combine in blender and whirl until smooth. Serves 2. Ellen's Special 2 cups cranberry juice 1/2 cup lemon juice 2 cups ginger ale Dash Rose's lime juice
Combine cranberry juice, lemon juice, and ginger ale, and add lime juice. Swirl in blender. Serves 2. Sesame Orange Flip 6 tablespoons sesame seeds 2 cups water 2 tablespoons honey 4 oranges, squeezed (about 2 cups) or 4 tablespoons concentrated frozen orange juice
Combine sesame seeds, water, and honey in blender and blend on high speed 2 minutes. Strain, add orange juice, and blend a few seconds longer. Chill before serving. Yield: 4 cups.
A good book on the subject is ''The Non-Drinker's Drink Book'' by Gail Schioler, New York: Everest House, $10.95.