Saying goodbye to single life deserves a worthy celebration — whether you're a man or a woman. It's a tradition that has evolved over the centuries into equal opportunity hedonism.
All that toasting eventually morphed into raucous nights out on the town with the boys, and by the time bachelorette parties — or "hen parties" — came around, the feasting had all but disappeared. Until now.
Today's bachelorette parties are focusing less on the party and more on great food and wine, according to Alyson Fox of Levine Fox Events in Los Angeles.
"Rather than going out and getting wasted, my clients are setting up tasting menus in restaurants, hotel suites or other interesting venues with knowledgeable chefs, sommeliers and mixologists," she said.
A party honoring the bride should reflect her passion, so whether it's a pastry class from a celebrity chef, a caviar-and-champagne tasting, or a chef's table in an award-winning restaurant, the culinary bachelorette party is clearly a trend.
For those who take their feasting seriously, delicious choices abound. Gourmet restaurants such as
Tobie Cancino, Bouchon's manager of private dining, noted that tasting menus can be specialized for the bride, "right down to the parting gifts — pastel macaroons — in the bride's favorite colors and flavors."
A.O.C., which specializes in an extensive selection of wines by the glass along with small plates created by celebrity chef Suzanne Goin, has seen an increase in gourmet bachelorette dinners over the past year, said general manager Billie Freeman. "Last summer, we created a special menu and wines for a bride who loved Italy," she said.
Not every bride-to-be is happy just to savor an evening of incredible food and wine with her best friends. Some want to learn how to re-create it at home.
"Epicurean brides can celebrate with their friends while learning how to make something sweet for their new husbands," said Montage Beverly Hills' executive pastry chef Richard Ruskell, recent winner of Food Network's "Last Cake Standing" competition show.
Ruskell, who recently taught a hands-on pastry class for 12 women, noted that the main ingredient was "fun."
"They were laughing so hard when they were making their fruit tarts," he said. "It was really a bonding experience."
Frank Leon, chef and owner of La Loggia Ristorante, Next Door Tapas and Bokado Brasserie in Studio City, pointed out that cooking parties can still have that "girls' night out" ambiance when done in a lounge setting.
"Next Door has a casual vibe," Leon said. "The ladies drink wine during the cooking class, and they love to lounge on the big sofas around the fire."
While food may be in the bachelorette party spotlight, libations will always be key, said Fox — mainly specialty drinks and fine wine.Ian Blackburn, founder of Learn About Wine (www.learnaboutwine.com) agrees.
"Wine evokes conversation," he said, noting an especially lively tasting party he threw.
"They had a blast," he said. "And isn't that what a bachelorette party is all about?"