Let’s face it: Aside from the fashion, décor, and food (and maybe the DJ or band), the one thing you remember most about an amazing wedding is the alcohol. Or, maybe you don’t remember anything at all, which means the alcohol did its job a little too well.
It’s important to not only have an ample amount of boozy bevs, but perhaps a specialty cocktail that really sets the mood and speaks to the couple’s favorite flavors.
But, what will be on trend in the coming year? We asked a handful of top mixologists for their favorite concoctions to serve on the big day. Whether you have bartenders who can customize or you are creating a signature drink in bulk, here are six options that are guaranteed to make a statement.
Meet the Expert
- Jordan Hughes is an award-winning mixologist with a popular Instagram account The High-Proof Preacher.
- Thomas Mizuno-Moore is senior beverage manager at Aba, Beatrix, The Dalcy, Ema, and L. Woods.
- Mixologist Hannah Chamberlain is the creator behind Spirited LA.
- Tara Newman is the private and special event manager of RPM Restaurants.
A Seasonal Hit
For DIY weddings, there is a fear that liquors like vodka and gin will get all of the love and you’ll be stuck with leftover bottles of tequila and whiskey. To prevent this from happening (at least if drinks are prepared individually), opt for a cocktail like mixologist Jordan Hughes’ The Maiden Connection that can work with practically any spirit. Its apple cider component also makes it a lovely libation for any fall celebration.
“This is an extremely versatile cocktail recipe that is my go-to for weddings or special events,“ says Hughes, also known as the High-Proof Preacher. “It’s easy to scale up or down, depending on how many guests you’ll be serving, or you can just make it as a single-serve cocktail.”
“Part of the versatility is that you can easily swap out the base spirit with nearly any liquor you prefer and it will still taste amazing,” he adds. “The recipe was created with Hendrick’s Gin, but I’ve also made it with Hudson Whiskey, Milagro Tequila Reposado, and even Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky and it was absolutely delicious.”
The Maiden Connection
- 1½ part Hendrick’s Gin (also try with whiskey or tequila)
- ½ part ginger liqueur
- ¼ part simple syrup
- ½ part lemon juice
- 1½ part apple cider
- 1½ part sparkling wine
- Apple slices for garnish
For large groups, batch in a punch bowl. To serve, just pour over ice and garnish with apple slices. If made individually, shake all ingredients (except sparkling wine) with ice, then strain over fresh ice and top with sparkling wine.
A Refreshing Crowd Pleaser
While it may be important to offer a unique drink that’s reflective of the happy couple’s tastes, it’s just as crucial to ensure that it will also be well-received by most of the guests and, as a result, can be served in large quantities.
Thomas Mizuno-Moore, senior beverage manager at Aba, Beatrix, The Dalcy, Ema, and L. Woods, shares this sentiment, which is why he has created Connie’s Cocktail—a tart, floral blend of liqueurs that appeases most palates.
“Oftentimes we create custom cocktails for the couple based on a short series of questions that we put together. It's so important that these drinks feel personal for them!” he says. “But part of the process is [also] talking about the sort of drinks that would be appealing to a large number of people and would also be relatively easy to make lots of.”
“This cocktail is perfect for a wedding,” he says of Connie’s. “It's light, citrusy and slightly effervescent and wonderful on a warm day or to refresh you in between dances.”
- .75 oz fresh lime juice
- .5 oz Apologue Aronia Berry Liqueur
- .5 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
- 1.5 oz Ford's London Dry Gin
- 2 oz Three Cents Grapefruit Soda
- Mint leaves for garnish
In a shaker, add all ingredients except the grapefruit soda. Add ice and shake until cold. Add grapefruit soda to tin and then strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with a bouquet of mint and a lime wheel.
The Perfect Punch
Sometimes drinks are just downright beautiful and deserving of their own spotlight. This blush-hued and tropical-influenced quencher is no exception. Garnish it with food-grade rose petals for a romantic presentation that can match any intricate flower design.
“This celebratory punch is perfect for a wedding because it’s full of fresh, delicate flavor with notes of strawberry, coconut, lime, and basil which perfectly complement the cucumber and rose botanicals from the Hendrick’s Gin,” mixologist Hannah Chamberlain says of her Larrabee Punch. “Serving a punch at your wedding is a great choice because it can be made ahead of time, guests can serve themselves, and because it also functions as a show-stopping centerpiece.”
- Serves 9
- 18 oz Hendrick’s Gin
- 18 oz coconut water
- 9 oz lime juice
- 6 to 9 oz strawberry syrup (recipe below)
- 1 bunch of basil
- Fresh strawberries
- Food-grade rose petals (optional, for garnishing)
Add gin, coconut water, lime, syrup, and basil to your punch bowl. Lightly muddle the basil leaves into the punch, then fill the bowl with plenty of ice. Stir 40 to 50 times, and garnish with slices of strawberry, fresh basil leaves, and rose petals. Serve.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup strawberries
Simmer one cup of water with one cup of sugar until it dissolves. Add the strawberries and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow it to cool then strain out the solids. Store in the fridge and use within five to seven days.
A Dynamic Duo
Pairing two completely different cocktails to showcase the individual preferences of brides and grooms is a fun way to diversify your offerings. It’s also another way to put a more personalized touch on an already-special occasion.
"We are seeing brides and grooms choosing signature cocktails that highlight their preferences and personality,” says Tara Newman, private and special event manager of RPM Restaurants. “The Spritz & Giggles is an effervescent, fruity cocktail that is ideal for celebrating, while the RPM Old Fashioned is one of our signature classics. Additionally, both cocktails photograph beautifully, complementing the photographic artistry of any wedding."
Spritz & Giggles
- 1 oz vodka
- 3/4 oz raspberry syrup
- 3/4 oz lemon juice
- 1/4 oz Vedrenne Cassis
- 2 oz Giuliana Prosecco
- Lemon wheel and dehydrated raspberries for garnish
Add vodka, raspberry syrup, lemon juice and cassis together in a glass. Stir to combine. Add cubed ice to the glass and top with prosecco. Garnish with lemon wheel and a couple dehydrated raspberries.
RPM Old Fashioned
- 2 oz High West Double Rye
- ¼ oz demerara syrup
- 3 dashes angostura bitters
- Orange peel for garnish
Combine whiskey, demerara syrup, and bitters in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for about 30 seconds. Strain into a Double Old-Fashioned glass over a large cube of ice. Garnish with orange peel.
An Elevated Classic
Classics never die, which is why there are certain cocktail staples that must be available at your wedding bar. You can, however, have a little bit of fun by incorporating a new ingredient or two to put a creative spin on the familiar.
“When looking to enjoy the night for the long haul, we like to look towards split-base cocktails. You can take most classics and use this approach but one of our all-time favorites is the Penicillin,” says McLain Hedges, who owns famed Denver-based Yacht Club with his wife, Mary Allison Wright.
“Go for the classic and split your favorite whiskey pour with Fino (or Manzanilla) sherry and have your mind blown! At Yacht Club, we do a spin on this modern classic called the Fancy Clancy with Irish Whiskey and homemade ginger-vanilla cream soda that will have you steady sippin’. Think of this one as a whiskey ginger met a Creamsicle and they just consummated the marriage. Sparks are flying, y’all!”
- 1 oz Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey
- 1 oz Fino sherry
- .75 oz mandarin or tangerine juice
- .25 oz lemon juice
- .75 oz Ginger Creamsicle Oleo (recipe below)
- 2 oz soda water
Build all ingredients in a highball glass. Add ice and go nail that first dance.
Take peels from all your citrus and add 2 cups of sugar. Allow to sit for 24 hours. Once macerated, add (by weight to sugar where applicable) 50-percent ginger juice, 50-percent water, and one tbsp vanilla extract. Properly dissolve, bottle, and keep refrigerated for two weeks.