Entertaining

Party On: These 100 Individuals Are the Best Hosts in America

The who's who of shindig-throwers in 2019 is out.
IMAGE MICHAEL STILWELL / GETTY IMAGES
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When Carla McDonald, a seasoned public relations exec, traded New York for Austin, TX in order to marry her husband Jack and start a family, she thought that keeping her hand in the marketing game would be a good thing, and initially it was. She aligned with a tech startup, and when it was sold, she leveraged that experience and her significant contacts into her own boutique PR firm, Dynabrand, growing it into one of the top firms in the state. But as the PR industry changed dramatically to feed the beast of the 24/7 news cycle, her passion for the art of buzz waned. “I just wasn’t enjoying it as much,” she said. “I wanted to start something new.”


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Salonierre's founder Carla McDonald

An accomplished host and enthusiastic guest herself, she envisioned an online magazine that would celebrate the art of gracious hospitality. She named it The Salonniere after the women of 17th and 18th century France whose influential parties, or salons, shaped the world in a way that is still felt today. The website, launched in 2012, remains a fizzy romp through various events and personalities, accented with bits of party lore and retro images. And then there’s “The List.”

“It was a perfectly lovely party, if you’ve never been to a party before.” –Truman Capote

Published annually since 2016, The Salonniere 100 is a party in print—indeed, it would make for the ultimate guest list. Organized by city, it names the area’s top hosts as chosen by a judging panel comprised of McDonald at the helm, her staff and significant polling of movers and shakers from coast to coast. The list does not include event planners or other party professionals, only individuals known for their party prowess.

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Like other lists in our “who’s in/who’s out” obsessed society, the list’s publication is a newsworthy event in of itself, as evidenced by the significant amount of media coverage it receives. And while lists of names are always an appetizing read for some, a bit of deeper diving revealed some interesting aspects of today’s social landscape.

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  1. The South rules: 46 percent of the honorees are from the South; 26 percent are from the West; 25 percent are from the Northeast; and three percent are from the Midwest.
  2. Two and a half times as many women are on the list as men.
  3. Intimate dinner parties are replacing over-the-top galas as preferred events.

    THERE ARE 15 HOSTS WHO HAVE MADE THE LIST EVERY YEAR SINCE ITS INCEPTION. THEY ARE:

    Aspen: Amy and John Phelan

    Atlanta: Annette Joseph, Danielle Rollins

    Dallas: Cindy Rachofsky

    Houston: Becca Carson Thrash, Lynn Wyatt, Phoebe Tudor

    New York: Ashley McDermott, Lela Rose

    New Orleans: Julia Reed

    Newport: Bettie Bearden Pardee

    Palm Beach: Annie Falk

    San Francisco: Ken Fulk

    Washington, DC: Hilary and Wilbur Ross, Katherine and David Bradley.

    Full disclosure: I do appear on this year’s list, and for the second time (last year was for Milwaukee, this year is for Palm Beach). In my book, Confessions of a Serial Entertainer, I write freely about the irony of being thought of as a host of any note. My husband Rich (a solid Midwestern corporate software wonk and total jock) and I live in an unassuming 1970s condo with a small, nothing special kitchen. We both travel relentlessly for work, so much of our time at home is taken up by laundry and jet lag recovery.

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    Yet, without fail, a dinner party or a cocktail gathering will manage to work its way into our downtime, far more frequently than our friends with bigger, fancier digs. But ours are always modest affairs—a big bowl of chips and that old onion dip—or pigs in blankets and cucumber sandwiches if I can get my act together. One thing that I can say is that we always have enough booze and ice. If that qualifies me as an accomplished host, I’ll take it. So here’s to The Salonniere 100—it’s always nice to be included.

    THE SALONNIERE NAMES AMERICA’S 2019 100 BEST PARTY HOSTS:

    Aspen

    Amy and John Phelan

    Atlanta

    Annette Joseph
    Cathleen Smith Bresciani
    Danielle Rollins
    James Farmer
    Sara Blakely

    Austin

    Kirstin and Joe Ross
    Mary Herr Tally

    Bergen County, New Jersey

    Herb Karlitz

    Boston

    Christy Cashman

    Charleston

    Carolyne Roehm

    Patricia Altschul

    Charlotte

    Chandra Johnson
    Laura Vinroot Poole

    Chicago

    Alessandra Branca
    Cynthia Chereskin
    Irene Michaels

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    Corpus Christi

    Ronda Carman

    Dallas

    Brooke Davenport
    Cindy Rachofsky
    Nancy Rogers

    Denver

    Christine Vazquez
    Laura Moretz

    Detroit

    Grace Montero and Jay Rayford

    Fort Worth

    Cami Goff

    Mercedes Bass

    The Hamptons

    Audrey Gruss
    Kelli Delaney Kot
    Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper

    Houston

    Becca Cason Thrash
    Lynn Wyatt
    Phoebe TudorSheridan Williams

    Lexington, Kentucky

    Jon Carloftis and Dale Fisher

    Little Rock

    Shayla Copas

    Louisville, Kentucky

    Priscilla Barnstable and Patricia Barnstable-Brown
    Tammy York Day and Tonya York Dees

    Los Angeles

    Cheryl Saban
    Crystal Lourd
    Frances Schultz
    Hutton Wilkinson
    Irena Medavoy
    Jamie Tisch
    Jennifer Aniston
    Liane Weintraub
    Mike Meldman
    Nadine and Fred Rosen
    Renvy Pittman
    Stephanie Booth Shafran
    Suzanne Rheinstein
    Timothy Corrigan

    Miami

    Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade
    Stephanie Aagaard
    Swanee DiMare
    Yolanda and Jeff Berkowitz

    Nashville

    Ellen Martin
    Keith Meacham

    New Orleans

    Alexa Pulitzer
    Jane Scott Hodges
    Julia Reed
    Martine Chaisson Linares

    New York

    Alex Hitz
    Alex Papachristidis
    Allison Sarofim
    Ashley McDermott
    Bunny Williams
    Charlotte Moss
    Derek Blasberg
    Isabelle Bscher
    Jean Shafiroff
    Jill Kargman
    Lela Rose
    Muffie Potter Aston and Dr. Sherrell Aston
    Richard Keith Langham
    Stephanie Nass
    Susan Gutfreund

    Newport

    Bettie Bearden Pardee
    Pamela and David Ford

    Palm Beach

    Annie Falk
    Pauline Pitt
    Steven Stolman
    Terry Allen Kramer

    Philadelphia

    Eddie Ross

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    Phoenix

    Carolyn Jackson

    Provincetown

    John Dowd and Dan Minahan

    San Diego

    Bridget McKenna
    Rebecca and David Vigil

    San Francisco

    Anne Hearst McInerney and Jay McInerney
    Aubrey Brewster
    Ken Fulk
    Monelle Totah and Gary McNatton
    Sloan Barnett

    Santa Barbara

    Oprah Winfrey

    Savannah, GA

    Alexandra Trujillo de Taylor

    Washington, D.C.

    Ambassador Gerard Araud
    Buffy Cafritz
    Hilary and Wilbur Ross
    Juleanna Glover
    Katherine and David Bradley
    Sheikha Rima Al-Sabah


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    *This article originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

    *Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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