Creating a signature cocktail for your wedding or event might seem like a simple task at first glance. Of course, the most important consideration is choosing something that you love – one that represents you and your spouse-to-be & adds to the aesthetic you’ve created for the occasion.
But, there’s much to consider – for wine country weddings in particular, it’s important to inquire before booking your venue what limitations might be in place regarding alcohol. Some wineries restrict hard alcohol, require a minimum purchase of the estate wines, or pour their label exclusively.
Also, the geographical limitations of the site should be considered, as well as the scope of staffing that you have in mind. In general, plan for 1 bartender per 50 – 75 guests, depending on your crowd’s consumption, how hot it is that day, the complexity of the bar menu, and so on.
Reasons why we think you’ll want to choose a signature cocktail for your event:
- Set the scene – if this is to be the welcome beverage of your reception, it’s the perfect opportunity to share something uniquely you – it can be sweet and meaningful, or simply stunning and delicious. Either way, we think the glass you greet your guests with should make an impression.
- Another argument for the signature beverage is simplicity. A large group of party-goers on a hot summer day can keep a bartender scrambling. Fewer ingredients to stock in an off-site bar will make for a smoother flow to service & less delay, which can translate to costs saved as well as a better experience for your guests.
Once you’ve decided you want a signature cocktail for you event, you must choose which one! Here’s our advice:
- Choose vodka. Really. Vodka is the most universally popular spirit, and appeals to the broadest range of palettes. There are also endless variations on how it can be incorporated, and drinks can be designed to please the connoisseur to the amateur. Vodka also pairs well with fruit, and this paves the way for creating a non-alcoholic option that is equally celebratory and special. (A sparkling pear-rosemary cocktail like this one is easily adapted to a virgin option for non-drinkers.)
- Consider the weather. The obvious rule-of-thumb here is that in warmer weather, something light and refreshing will appeal to all; while in cooler weather, a martini or whisky-based drink (like a sazerak) can be the perfect warm-up!
- If you do have your heart set on offering a “built” cocktail, like an old fashioned or mojito, as your signature drink, be sure to plan ahead. Everyone’s been to at least one party where elaborately-constructed drinks and inadequate prep had you waiting in line at the bar all night. Avoid this pitfall by a) hiring a professional & b) staffing up based on the complexity of your menu.
- If you have chosen a wedding site that does not permit hard alcohol, it’s still possible to offer a signature cocktail at your event! Sparkling wine concoctions are a wonderful alternative, as are recipes that substitute for a lower-octane spirit.
Now, the fun part. Tasting! Your bartender should be able to help you with suggestions on which ingredients are in season and where to procure the best produce. Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few recipes, it’s time for a tasting.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
blackberry-mint shrub – this can be adapted to any season & is the perfect summer refresher!
the fig kiss – one of our most-loved recipes at the girl & the fig.
the bees knees – this can be extra-special and local if you feature Sonoma-grown honey (our bartenders like to finish the drink with a sprinkle of lavender flowers).
Did you offer a featured cocktail at your event? How did you choose? Leave us a note!