Add a boozy twist to your cocktail hour by surprising guests with an extra drink station where they can order a couple of special drinks that you’ve chosen for the occasion. Love gin and tonics? Offer a tonic bar where they can order a classic G&T, as well as some other fun variations on the libation. Or perhaps you’ve got a penchant for bourbon. If so, stock a separate bar at the reception with bottles of your favorite bourbons so guests can sip and taste.
As for how this works, you can, of course, offer a specialty bar in addition to a fully stocked cocktail bar. Or you can serve beer and wine alongside drinks from the specialty bar, and cut the full bar entirely to save on your bar budget.
Aside from being a fun and unexpected addition to the cocktail hour, a specialty bar is also incredibly functional. By serving your special drinks at a separate bar, you’ll cut down on wait times at the main bars. Similarly, if your specialty bar is a serve-yourself station, you might be able to cut down on the serving staff since that bar does not need to be manned.
Keep reading for our favorite spins on this specialty cocktail bar idea.
Following this couple's ceremony, guests arrived at cocktail hour, which featured a tonic bar. There, they could choose from the bride’s and groom’s favorite tonic-based beverages, or build their own from a mix of different tonics, alcohols, and garnishes.
This couple’s cocktail hour featured a special bourbon bar, offering a selection of the groom’s favorite varieties.
Bloody Mary Bar
If you're hosting an afternoon wedding—or maybe you just love Bloody Marys— a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar is a brilliant idea. Display a sign inviting guests to customize their own creation and have it fully stocked with bottles of vodka, mix, and all the toppings you can think of.
Serving glasses of your favorite bubbly just got a whole lot more fun. Have a champagne cart at your reception with bottles of your favorite on ice and an attendant ready to pour.
Whiskey Bar with Tasting Notes
If you or your fiancé are whiskey aficionados, provide informational cards for each bottle that describe its provenance and tasting notes.
An outdoor cocktail hour is a perfect opportunity to serve a couple of your favorite bottles of rosé.
Surprise guests with a fully stocked scotch bar, featuring bottles of your and your fiance’s top picks.
A self-serve sangria station is perfect for an outdoor cocktail hour. Since everything can be pre-made, you don’t need a bartender at the station, which could save you some money on your bar budget.
In addition to a classic Moscow Mule, this couple’s cocktail bar also served up variations like the Mexican Mule (made with tequila) and the Kentucky Mule (mixed with bourbon).
This couple served up all the fixings for a thirst-quenching peach Bellini before their ceremony kicked off.