You’ve got the wine, you’ve got the beer and now it’s on to the cocktails. With alcohol and bars available at most weddings, it can be hard to stand out with unique choices.
Here are five expert ways to up your drink game.
- Let guests build their own
Do-it-yourself is in! From homemade favors to upcycled Mason jars and make-your-own mimosas, it’s all about personal touches. Let your guests take part in the fun too with a DIY cocktail bar. At The Cocktail Architect in New York, build-your-own bloody mary setups have been all the rage, according to Nandini Natasha Austin, who co-owns the company with her husband, Yusef.
To make things extra special, Austin suggests offering unique ingredients. Instead of store-bought mix, Austin and her team infuse heirloom tomatoes into water to add an extra touch of freshness to drinks. It can also be used as a martini base with ingredients like peppers, pickled vegetables or unique salts like mushroom.
For build-your-own bars, Nandini Natasha Austin completes the setup with different bottles of alcohol and colorful flowers to make everything pop.
- Use unique, lesser-known alcohols
Think beyond vodka or rum and dig deeper into alcohol varieties. Sherry, a type of fortified wine, has been making its way back into the limelight in recent years, with a resurgence noted by everyone from Eater to the LA Times. It’s heralded for its ability to pair well with a number of different foods, and its has ABV (alcohol by volume) falls somewhere between wine and liquor.
The Cocktail Architect has seen a trend of couples putting more research into what they serve at their wedding, discovering things like Tres Papalote Mezcal. This variety is “a great bridge for Tequila drinkers who’ve always wanted to try Mezcal but didn’t like the smoky aspect,” according to Yusef Austin, Cocktail Architect founder.
- Offer drinks that do double duty
Especially in the summer, it’s important to keep guests comfortable. Highlight specialty cocktails that use refreshing ingredients – watermelon, fresh fruits and herbs like mint will keep parched guests cool.
If you’re planning an all-night party, The Cocktail Architect suggests keeping guests in the game with the 120 MPH, made with Anejo tequila, cold brew espresso, simple syrup, a kick of cayenne and a splash of Tia Maria.
It’s the ultimate energizer and can be served as a shot or in a martini, says Yusef Austin.
- Keep it classic yet modern
Unique cocktail options are great, but the last thing you want to do is alienate guests looking for simple, classic drinks. Offer the best of both worlds with classic options with a twist, like margaritas spiked with unexpected flavors like jalapeno or gin and tonics with blackberry and lemon.
Refreshing drinks like the Moscow Mule also makes for a great cocktail option — the use of ice, fresh lime juice and ginger beer play especially well with summer weddings, according to JJ Resnick, founder of Santa Barbara, California-based Moscow Copper Co., the maker of the original copper “Mule mug.”
- Tie in drinks with your decor
If you love cocktails, why not incorporate that into your wedding decor? Showcase your drinks by offering glasses as favors or using them in place settings.
Sophie Spier, owner of Amazing Day Events in Santa Barbara, says Moscow Mules are coming back “with a vengeance,” and regularly sees couples requesting versions with additions like pineapple or blackberry.
Mules are crowd pleasers and also serves as a theme-neutral drink, giving couples a timeless cocktail option that’s not cheesy or too specific to personal tastes, Spier says. To incorporate into decor, Spier sets tables with mugs complete with the guest’s seating card.
“Wouldn’t that be a welcoming table for anyone to sit at? And to go home with such a beautiful mug is a highlight of anyone’s night,” she adds.