In our planning process, our goal is always to infuse our client’s personalities and aesthetic in every detail of their event, and food and beverage is no exception. On the beverage side, a signature cocktail is one of the most fun ways to personalize your bar. Here are some of the elements we take into consideration when helping our clients select their specialty drink.
Make it Personal
We always start by asking our clients what cocktails or spirits they order most. We want you to love what you are serving your guests, and we want your guests to smile when they see your favorite drinks featured at the bar because they recognize it as your go-to order.
For example, one of our couples is known for always ordering Aperol spritzes in every city they travel to. After sampling so many versions of the Spritz, they had crafted their own recipe based on their research, which we shared with the mixologist at their wedding to use for the spritz served upon guest arrival.
Another couple wanted to serve the Spanish gin & tonic from their favorite San Francisco restaurant. We called the restaurant, who happily supplied the recipe for the hotel to recreate.
Having a hard time narrowing it down to one? You can always choose to serve a different cocktail for each part of the event. For an upcoming wedding, we have a champagne cocktail for guest arrival, a Paloma for cocktail hour and inside the reception there will be a vodka bar (a nod to her Russian roots) and a whiskey bar (a nod to his mid-western roots).
Make it Seasonal
We always love to highlight the local and seasonal produce for our event food & beverage and cocktails are the perfect medium.
Ojai is know for their lavender & citrus. One couple worked with the beverage director at the Ojai Valley Inn to select a mezcal (their favorite spirit) that would pair best with the Inn’s lavender lemonade for the specialty drink served at their cocktail hour. The lavender lemonade is also a fabulous mocktail, so guests looking for a non-alcoholic beverage could also take part in the experience.
In addition to seasonal ingredients, we also take the location into consideration when choosing what to serve. For this summer beach wedding, a fresh coconut was the perfect drink to serve prior to their ceremony, since neither alcohol nor glass is allowed on the beach.
Weather is another important factor in deciding what to serve. If you are getting married in December, something warm and comforting like a hot toddy or mulled wine is always a nice touch.
Make it Complement Your Menu
People often focus on wine pairings, but making sure that your cocktail pairs with your menu is just as important. We always work alongside the food and beverage team to create cocktails that can be enjoyed throughout the evening without overpowering the meal. A tequila or mezcal-based cocktail is an obvious choice for a Mexican themed event. We also love martinis for steak house-style family meals and a classic negroni for Italian-focused menus.
Cocktails are also a great addition to your dessert service. We love to place a bar cart with dessert wines, ports and cordials next to the dessert station or add spirits like Baileys and Kahlua to the coffee station.
Make it Interactive
The bar is the star of any cocktail hour. Selecting an interactive cocktail station gives your guests an entertaining experience and allows them to customize their cocktail to their liking. Some of our favorite interactive stations are martini bars with a variety of vodkas, gins and garnishes for the guests to choose from and tequila and mezcal tastings where the guests can sample different styles of the two spirits and learn a little bit about the process while they enjoy.
Make it Part of the Decor
Signature cocktail recipes don’t have to be complicated. One bride’s go-to cocktail was tequila & soda, but she didn’t initially think that was unique enough to serve as a signature cocktail. We used higher quality tequila & soda, placed the lime garnish on a custom cocktail pic and placed it in a decorative glass to elevate the drink. Guests loved that she found a way to feature her go-to bar order at her wedding.
The presentation is just as important as the recipe. Our clients often choose to include specialty glassware and details such as custom cocktail napkins, straws, cocktail stirrers and custom ice cubes with their logo or monogram to make their cocktail unique.
The best part of choosing a signature cocktail is the tasting and now is the perfect time to hone your mixology skills. You can find all of our favorite tools and serving pieces in the Happy Hour list on our Amazon shop
Visit our Pinterest page for more cocktail hour inspiration!