Having a delectable custom cocktail—or even an entire bespoke drink menu—created for your wedding is a creative way to make the reception more memorable. Having a customized drink menu will also speed up the drink-ordering process for guests and make the evening smoother for bartenders.
The perfect signature cocktail highlights your favourite alcohol and flavours, has a fun or thoughtful name, features ingredients that mesh well with your food menu, and looks as great as it tastes. Here’s how to craft the cocktail that will become your party highlight.
Talk to your bartender or mixologist
Depending on the location and set up of your wedding, the parties responsible for serving drinks at the reception could either be the catering company, the venue’s licensed bartenders, or independent mixologists that you’ve hired for the event. Share your theme and menu with them, and they should be able to give suggestions for trending drinks that fit the occasion.
Pick the base alcohol
Is there a particular cocktail that plays a part in your love story, or one you just really love? Does the season or venue suit a specific spirit or liquor? These are factors to keep in mind as you choose a base alcohol for your mixed-drink, such as vodka, gin, tequila or whiskey (liqueurs, which are sweet, such as triple sec or pastis are options as well). Your budget may also play a role in the decision, as top-shelf, premium cocktails will cost more to serve.
Build the cocktail
Tweaking an existing popular cocktail with a special ingredient or garnish is going to be easier and less time-consuming than creating a recipe from scratch. Once your mixologist knows the base alcohol that you want to work with and the flavours, moods and colours that you like (and dislike!), they will be able to prepare a few drinks for you to taste-test and select. During the approval process, you should also be able to make tweaks such as swapping out bitters or herbs, or changing the ratio of spirits in a recipe. This is also the time to confirm if the cocktail will be made-to-order, or served from premade batches. The latter option saves the bartender’s time and ensure that guests are served quickly, but removes the option for guests to tweak their beverage order or ask for it to be served without alcohol.
Design the look
Pick a glass or vessel for your signature drink that fits both the theme of your wedding and the cocktail type. Don’t hesitate to make creative choices such as Piña coladas in coconut shells for a tropical-themed celebration, or a rum-based punch in Mason jars for a relaxed summer ceremony. Then, decide if you want to add edible garnishes such as flower petals, sprigs of rosemary and other herbs, sliced fruits, and candy canes for a pretty finishing touch.
Name your drink
You can be clever, funny, or sweet when naming your signature cocktail. Cultural touchstones, song titles or lyrics, favourite movies are all fair game if you’re stumped on where to start. Whether you want your guests to swoon or laugh out loud as they place their order, keep in mind that the best drink names are easy to remember, fits with the wedding theme, and makes a reference most guests can identify. Finally, create and display ample signage that tells guests about the signature cocktail, listing every ingredient, so that they know to ask for it!