What are Cocktail Napkins? (with pictures)

J.Gunsch
J.Gunsch
Using cocktail napkins can prevent water marks.
Using cocktail napkins can prevent water marks.

Cocktail napkins are small napkins that are used for special occasions such as weddings, baby showers, bridal showers, cocktail parties, and other similar events. They are not used for formal dining; rather, a larger cloth napkin signifies good etiquette on the part of the host or hostess. For informal events, small napkins can be used to carry hors d’oeuvres, as a coaster for cocktails, or to discreetly spit out unwanted food and dab the corners of the mouth.

Bartenders commonly provide cocktail napkins.
Bartenders commonly provide cocktail napkins.

This type of napkin is almost always found at bars. When you order a drink, with the exception of beer, the bartender will usually provide you with a cocktail napkin. This keeps your hands dry from the condensation that forms around the glass, prevents rings on the bar counter or table, and is more tasteful than a cardboard coaster with a beer company’s logo on it.

At any cocktail party, try to offer an assortment of hors d'oeuvres that are vegetarian.
At any cocktail party, try to offer an assortment of hors d'oeuvres that are vegetarian.

Cocktail napkins usually come in 5-inch (12.7-cm) squares, although it is common to have smaller or larger ones, as well as those that are rectangular. They can be plain white squares, embossed with various prints, and even personalized, with endless styles of lettering to choose from. Cocktail napkins are generally made of paper, but for an added touch of elegance, they are available in linens.

Depending on the ambiance that one wishes to create, cocktail napkins can be an effective way of enhancing any theme. For a casual party, novelty napkins can bring humor with pithy sayings, funny graphics, and so on. For more elegant affairs, such as weddings or cocktail hours before a formal dinner, choosing classic and tasteful ones can make the event more memorable by adding exquisite detail.

In addition to the countless styles of cocktail napkins, they also have their own specialized accessories. Holders add an extra flare to the theme of any occasion, with as many variations in style and size as there are for napkins. Wrought iron designs, pewter holders, and glass holders are some examples that are more on the elegant side. Novelty napkin holders are just as abundant. Those in the shape of beach chairs, animals, babies, and the like all make fun accessories for exciting theme parties.

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Discussion Comments

serenesurface

I like cocktail napkins with funny quotes on them like "keep calm and have a cocktail." Another very fun cocktail napkin I saw once read "Dear taxi driver, please drive me to..... and look for money in my purse or pocket" So it was made for those who had a little too much to drink to give directions to the taxi driver or pay him. I though it was hilarious.

Unfortunately, most cocktail napkins at bars are plain white and boring.

SarahGen

@ZipLine-- Have you thought of getting cocktail napkins with a game theme?

My sister had napkins with a baby shower trivia game for her baby shower. There were questions on each napkin and everyone answered them. For example, there were questions about the baby's due date, what the baby's name will be, etc. The person with the most answers matching the answers given by the mom won. It was actually a lot of fun and gave us something to do aside from opening presents.

I'm sure that there are cocktail napkins with other types of trivia games as well.

ZipLine

I'm organizing a baby shower for my daughter and I want to buy unique cocktail napkins. Does anyone here have any suggestions? What type of design would be best? I'm looking for something cute and different.

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    • Using cocktail napkins can prevent water marks.
      Using cocktail napkins can prevent water marks.
    • Bartenders commonly provide cocktail napkins.
      Bartenders commonly provide cocktail napkins.
    • At any cocktail party, try to offer an assortment of hors d'oeuvres that are vegetarian.
      At any cocktail party, try to offer an assortment of hors d'oeuvres that are vegetarian.