Photo: Megan Clouse Photography
You might be thinking a lot about your wedding menu — the food your guests will be enjoying on your big day. But just as much attention should be spent on your wedding cocktails – what you’re serving at the bar throughout the night and what will be in drinking glasses as they’re raised to toast the newlyweds. We spoke with mixologists from across the country for their tips on what’s trending now when it comes to wedding cocktails.
Get ready to toast to these 2018 wedding cocktail trends.
Couples are being influenced by the seasons.
The time of year is inspiring the cocktails served at weddings, explains Melissa Kilpatrick of Catered Cocktail in Jacksonville, Florida. “If it’s a winter wedding they may opt for a drink with bourbon, or cider as a mixer. If it’s a summer beach wedding, they may want to consider a Rum Punch.” She adds that couples may want their honeymoon destination’s climate or location to inspire their cocktail too. Consider wedding cocktails with coconut if you’re honeymooning in Tahiti, or tequila for Mexico.
Signature drinks are making a comeback.
The signature drink of the early 2000s is getting an update. “Couples aren’t naming wedding cocktails ‘Drunk in Love’ or ‘Blushing Bride’ anymore,” says Heather Nichol of HD Liquid Catering/HD Events in Dallas. “They’re labeling them by their contents or the real drink name.” She also adds that a couple’s drink is more common today than his and her options.
To create a signature drink, Chris Binney of Beck ‘N Call Bartenders in Ocala, Florida explains that her company creates a flavor profile of their clients, asks questions to get to know them and their guests, and find out the theme, style and colors of the wedding. “We look for some interesting facts on which to base the wedding cocktail, and then give the couple a few different options to choose from.” Some examples Chris shared are:
- An Amaretto Mojito, which symbolized the blending of a couple’s Italian and Cuban backgrounds
- A Signature Shot, featuring fireball and served from a fire extinguisher cocktail shaker for a groom who was a fireman
- A Red Velvet flavored drink, served at a wedding with a “southern belle” theme
- A Blue-Colored Cocktail that was light on alcohol and heavy on bubbles for a beach-themed wedding
Photo: Shandi Wallace Photography
Mocktails are a must.
While not many couples are requesting mocktails, the mixologists we spoke with agreed that it’s a nice addition to the bar menu if you’re serving an alcoholic signature drink. “It’s something I always recommend, especially when doing a signature wedding cocktail,” explains Chris. “I think it adds to the guests’ experience when the couple offers a signature drink, and leaving some folks out – either because they’re too young or choose not to drink – denies them participation in that experience.” Melissa adds that Catered Cocktails creates a non-alcoholic version of the signature drink so all the guests can enjoy it.
Classic cocktails are back.
Couples and guests are asking for classic wedding cocktails that were popular in the mid 20th century. “We are seeing a comeback of Old Fashioneds, Manhattans and French 75’s,” says Melissa. Other old-time favorites you may want to add to your bar menu include the Martini, Moscow Mule, Gimlet and Sidecar for an evening wedding, and the Bloody Mary, Mimosa, Bellini and Pimm’s Cup for a brunch or daytime wedding.
Don't forget after-dinner drinks.
During dessert, or the after-party, couples can create an after-dinner cocktail to pass around the dance floor, or create an elaborate non-alcoholic drink for the end of the night. “Couples are choosing to do a more elaborate non-alcoholic drink station or table service,” shares Heather. “We are seeing more hot tea or coffee table service and coffee/hot chocolate bars.” For hot chocolate stations, offer different types of hot cocoa from traditional and white chocolate to Mexican and mint hot chocolate. You can also add a toppings bar, including cinnamon sticks, whipped cream, cocoa powder and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups for guests to have a more interactive experience.
Photo: Jessica Cooper Photography
Couples will be customizing wedding cocktails with garnishes and flavored ice notes Heather. A garnish adds both decoration and/or flavor to a cocktail. Some garnishes that will complement your bar menu selections include olives, fruit wedges, onions, cherries, mint, nutmeg, cinnamon or a twist of a citrus peel. You can also order non-edible garnishes, such as festive umbrellas for tropical drinks, themed straws and stirrers. Chill drinks with ice cubes with frozen herbs, fruit, and edible flowers.
Skip the sugary drinks and go healthy.
As more people are opting for healthier diets, Melissa explained that couples are seeking out wedding cocktails that acknowledge a more health-conscious cocktail menu. “The healthy trend has clients shying away from sweetened juices and sodas, and leaning more towards healthy alternatives for mixers, such as LaCroix and all natural mixes.” You’ll also find more cocktails incorporating fresh herbs, such as rosemary, basil and mint she adds.
Dress up the bar and bartenders.
“A bartender’s uniform can be personalized,” says Chris. Ask your mixologist what the standard uniform is and if there are other options. “Something as simple as a bow tie in the wedding’s color or a hat can be an easy and inexpensive addition to a bartender’s uniform, and can add a nice little touch.” A drink menu can also be customized. “The drink menu can be as simple as a sheet of printed paper inserted into a picture frame, in the color or style of the wedding, or as elaborate as a decorated menu board sitting on an easel.” Heather adds that glassware choices, linens on the bar and personalized napkins can also help customize the look and feel of a bar.