In the 1950s, "fast" meals were more complicated than emptying a box of noodles and stirring in a packet of powdered cheese. In fact, recipes for fricasseed chicken or lamb stew were commonly suggested for no-fuss weeknight meals. Lucky for you, whipping up a few cocktails for your 1950s dinner party won't be as complicated.
Recommended retro sippers include simple classics like the martini -- stir 2-4 dashes of dry vermouth and 2 1/2 ounces (75 milliliters) of good-quality gin or vodka in a glass with ice for about 20 seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a pitted olive and/or a twist of lemon peel. Or, for those with sweeter tastes, the Manhattan -- stir 2 dashes of bitters, 1 ounce (30 milliliters) of sweet vermouth and 2 ounces (60 milliliters) of your blended whiskey of choice in a glass with ice for several seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
Of course, if your '50s party has a luau theme, you'll want to make something rum-based, like an old-fashioned daiquiri -- mix 3/4 ounce (22 milliliters) of fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1 ounce (30 milliliters) of simple syrup and 1 1/2 ounces (45 milliliters) of white rum in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake for several seconds, then strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a thin slice of lime. You can make your own simple syrup by simmering equal parts white granulated sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves -- the syrup will keep, refrigerated, for about a month.
For a non-alcoholic standby, reconstitute a space-age drink: Tang. This brightly colored, orange-flavored drink wasn't actually invented for NASA, but since several early astronauts, including John Glenn, drank it during space flights, it's a nostalgic conversation starter.