New Year’s Eve is fast approaching. With any luck you’ll be hosting or attending a party. (Or do as my wife and I sometimes do: plan a romantic New Year’s Eve party for two.) That means iced vodka or champagne, and that requires finger food, a.k.a. tapas, hors d’oeuvres, or zakuski (a spread of Russian hors d’oeuvres) . Whatever you call them, as 2014 rolls into 2015, a lot of us will chow down on an array of small savory bite-size dishes. (For not a few of us, they’ll constitute dinner.) And for this barbecue community, that means firing up the grill or smoker—preferably both.
So what makes great finger food? Three words: snap, crackle, and salt. Each piece should be small enough to snap up with your fingers and salty enough to drive you to drink. You’re looking for a contrast of textures (crisp exterior, gooey center), the most important texture being crunch. And big, bold, smoky flavors and some chile pepper hellfire to drive you to more drink. Topping my list this year are olives (here, smoked), oysters (here, barbecued), meatballs (here, grilled), mini-kebabs (here, bacon-wrapped), and jalapeño poppers (here, bacon-wrapped some more). So here’s the ultimate BarbecueBible.com New Year’s Eve cocktail party menu. All of us wish you a happy, healthy, and barbecue-filled 2015!