Having a signature cocktail for your wedding sounds easy enough, until it comes time to figure out exactly what that should be. Specific taste preferences aside, there are some general tips every couple should know to help them craft their custom drink. Ricki Quarterman, CEO of Mixology Bartending Services and Fred Parent, co-founder of Mixed Neat share the most important things to consider.
1. Use fresh ingredients.
Tell your bartender to use fresh ingredients, such as seasonal fruits, squeezed juices, and homemade syrups, whenever possible, advises Parent. The reason for this is twofold. First, fresh ingredients make a higher quality cocktail that tastes better and is more balanced. But fresh ingredients also contain less sugar than prepackaged mixers. Too much sugar with alcohol is a deadly combination that is not only extremely unhealthy, but guaranteed to lead to bad decisions and one hell of a hangover.
2. Keep in mind the color of your drink.
When designing your drink, don't just think about your favorite flavors and spirits, but also the color of the final outcome. "Cocktails that have a lighter hue look a lot more appealing than something dark like brown or purple," says Quarterman. "For couples who are really into color coordination, I always advise them to pick a drink that matches the brightest shade in their palette."
3. Know the tradeoff between the complexity of the drink and quantity/speed it can be served.
If your signature cocktail requires 10 steps to make and needs to be individually shaken, then be prepared to see a line at the bar, warns Quarterman. "If you're just serving your signature drink for a short period of time and want everyone to try it, then you should pick something that can be made in a big batch so all the bartender needs to do is pour." On the flip side, if you want your signature cocktail to be something that guests savor slowly all evening, then a more carefully-crafted cocktail would add to that experience, says Parent.
4. Consider a classic with a twist.
If you're at a loss for where to start, choose a classic and let the bartender experiment with different ingredients to change up the flavor profile. "A cosmopolitan is always a classic choice," says Parent. "But using cranberry juice can make the drink feel a bit generic. Instead, talk to your mixologist to see if he can use a homemade grenadine and swap in a more unique fruit — such as pomegranate — instead."
5. For the safest bet, go with a vodka base.
"Usually if the couple isn't set on having a very specific type of alcohol, we try to convince them to use vodka as the base for their signature cocktail," says Quarterman. "Almost everyone can stomach vodka, but not everyone can tolerate bourbon or cognac or tequila. Vodka is also one of the easiest spirits to mix with, so we can create all different kinds of flavors for the drink. And if the groom wants something a little stronger or less fruity, then we'll create a second cocktail using a different type of spirit, but it's always good to have a vodka option for your guests."