The Best Cocktails for Weddings in 2021, According to Top Mixologists

Easy-to-make and great-tasting recipes from the World's Best Bars.

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Photo by Jenn Emerling

Ever wonder what goes into making the perfect wedding cocktail if you don’t have a bartender? Turns out, it’s not as hard as you’d think.

With many couples forgoing the full bar experience for at-home weddings in 2021, the mixology lands on them and their guests. That’s why we tapped some of the top bartenders across the globe to share easy-to-make and great-tasting cocktails for intimate weddings. Luckily for us, World’s Best just launched their most recent list, giving us quite the leg up on leads.

The trick, say our bartenders, is to have a drink that’s straightforward to mix quickly, with less than a handful of ingredients, or easy to batch ahead of time and leave in a pitcher. Have guests simply pour the drink into their glasses and garnish it appropriately. So whether you’re a vodka gal or a brown-spirit guy, here are five drinks worth considering for your small wedding.

A Take on the Spritz

Who doesn’t love a spritz? Georgia Georgakopoulou of The Clumsies in Athens, Greece, believes all weddings should start with a spritz, especially this riff on a white wine spritz. It’s common in Greece, she says, to open the wedding with a light cocktail. 

“It can be made by anyone, anywhere, and it’s so bubbly and tasteful,” she says of the Athenian Spritz. “The taste is semi-sweet, flowery, and, of course, wine-y. White spritzes are uncommon but they are loved because white wines are light-bodied. The taste of the elderflower liqueur with a white, fruity, dry wine, some Prosecco or brut Champagne is the main combination for this Spritz.”

Athenian Spritz

  • Athenian Spritz No. 3
  • 10 ml salty honey (recipe below)
  • 45 ml elderflower liqueur, like St. Germain
  • 70 ml dry white wine
  • Prosecco or brut Champagne, for floater 

To make salty honey, take 50 ml of coconut water and dissolve 7gr of salt and 2gr of citric acid. After, dd 250 gr of honey and stir until all of them are homogenized. Multiply to make additional. 

Mix all ingredients into a wine glass full of ice. Garnish with peppermint and a pink grapefruit wedge. To batch: Mix all ingredients except for the sparkling wine. When it’s time to serve, pour into the glass, leaving just enough space for a floater of Prosecco or brut Champagne. 

The Perfect After-Dinner Martini

With the dinner table becoming the main event at intimate gatherings, especially with restrictions on dancing, offer guests an elevated espresso martini experience. The Nomad Bar’s director Michael Smoley admits that the espresso martini is a “much-maligned cocktail from the age of sickly sweet club cocktails.” But, he said, it can be done right. 

“It is transformed from guilty pleasure to a well-balanced and nuanced cocktail,” Smoley says. “It’s a great way to wake everyone up. Our recipe calls for a touch of aged Aquavit—think herbaceous vodka—and a pinch of salt to add depth of flavor. This recipe can easily be scaled up and batched days ahead of an event. Just keep it ice cold and give it a good shake when you’re ready to party."

NoMad Espresso Martini 

  • 5 drops saline solution or small pinch of salt
  • 0.25 oz cane syrup or simple syrup
  • 0.50 oz aged Aquavit
  • 0.75 oz cold brew coffee
  • 0.75 oz vodka
  • 1.00 oz Mr. Black cold brew coffee liqueur 

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, cover, and shake vigorously. Strain into a coupe glass. To batch: Mix ingredients and keep cold until ready to serve. Give a solid shake before pouring into glasses. 

A Forever Favorite

Skip the whiskey and bourbon to opt for another brown spirit—one that never goes out of style. The mixology team at The Connaught Bar in London, ranked as the Best Bar in the World this year, recommends this Cognac-based cocktail for a classic wedding celebration. Hint: It includes Champagne too!

“This is a cocktail full of flavors to surprise your guests,” explains Agostino Perrone, the bar’s director of mixology. “The elegant spicy notes of Cognac are enhanced by the floral profile of the crème de violette with the Champagne rounding up the texture and taste of the blend. It is a cocktail that caters to many palates as it is intense and light at the same time.”

A Cocktail to Remember

  • Fleurissmo
  • 15ml Cognac
  • 5ml crème de violette
  • 1 sugar cube soaked in Peychaud's bitters
  • Champagne, for floater

Add the chilled ingredients into a glass. Add the sugar cube just before topping off the drink with Champagne. To batch: Prepare all ingredients ahead but do not mix until just before serving. 

Garden Party in a Glass

If you’re hosting a garden-inspired wedding, there’s no place to look for inspiration quite like Bangkok’s historic Mandarin Oriental hotel and their Bamboo Bar. Beverage manager Jamie Rhind is used to serving cocktails among the lush tropical gardens on the property and used just that to create this drink, which looks like an emerald green gin and tonic. 

“An intimate wedding in my imagination is about discreetly elegant floral arrangements and the gathering of friends and family in a tranquil garden,” Rhind says. “This drink promises to evoke the spirit of grace and joy of the couples and guests in this most special event.” That goes right down to the pea shoot garnish, which, Rhind says, he added to resemble a bride’s bouquet. 

The Garden of Eden

  • 45 ml gin
  • 20 ml sugar snap pea syrup 
  • 15ml yuzu juice
  • 4 dashes Absinthe (optional)
  • Pea shoots, for garnish

Mix ingredients together. Pour into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with pea shoots. To batch: Mix all ingredients together except for the pea shoots. 

The Drink of Summer

Sometimes, small weddings bring to mind elopements in Las Vegas—at least it does for Maybe Sammy’s co-founder Martin Hudak. Inspired by the popular haunts of the Rat Pack and the allure of Vegas’s 1960s glamour, the “fresh and fruity” Dunes cocktail uses sherry and gin as a base, a nod to the popular beverages of the time.

It’s one of the Sydney, Australia-based bar’s most popular drinks, so it’s sure to be a hit for your guest list. “It’s opulent and theatrical,” Hudak says of this colorful concoction. “It’s easy to mix and drink at any time, but especially during hot summer weddings.”

Going to the Chapel

  • 30ml gin
  • 25ml Fino sherry
  • 30ml fresh watermelon juice
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml agave syrup
  • 30ml filtered water 
  • Watermelon wedge, for garnish

Shake ingredients together. Pour into a coupe glass and garnish with a fresh watermelon wedge. To batch: Prepare the drink in a pitcher and have garnishes ready for service. 

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