Sweet and romantic. Bold and exciting. Sultry and exotic.
When planning cocktails for a wedding, the personalities of the couple can play a big part in what you choose. That and your favorite alcoholic beverages.
How about a Skip in Her Step? Or a Lace Garter? Wouldn’t a Blackberry Mojito be perfect for a summer wedding? Your guests might just love some R&R or perhaps a Funky Monkey. Maybe you two are a little Old Fashioned. Maybe you love a slice of the Big Apple or a Manhattan.
For Tim and Amber Weaver of The Traveling Tap in Lancaster, concocting special drinks for that special day is what their business is all about. The Traveling Tap is a full-service mobile bartending and beverage logistics company started four years ago.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Tim has more than 15 years of restaurant and bar management experience. Amber was a stage and production manager for Off-Broadway theater in New York City for some 11 years. The two decided to put their bartending experience and creative flair together to mix it up for weddings and special events.
“When it comes to wedding cocktails, the choices are only limited by either the venue rules or by couples’ budgets,” Amber says, noting that the two most common options are full bar or limited bar.
A full bar is just that: wine, liquor and beer. A limited bar is beer and wine only. The only liquor might be a signature cocktail or two. The decision is usually set by the couples’ budget and the rules of the venue. Some venues only allow for limited bars for liability reasons.
“There are also few venues that do not allow alcohol at all,” Amber says. “We have one couple we are working with where this is the case, so we are creating a full mocktail bar, with cocktail-inspired drinks without the alcohol.”
The Weavers have found that the most popular liquors for cocktails are vodka, whiskey and bourbon. The trend seems to show less preference for rum or gin.
As Tim points out, it all depends on the couple’s tastes and the theme of the wedding. Some couples have favorite cocktails that they want to share with guests. Others might love the Caribbean and want a tropical drink.
Then there is the fun of naming the drink. Sometimes it’s just a new twist on an old favorite, says Dave Murray, owner of Good Spirits Bartending in Lancaster. Murray uses certified bartenders to create their magic at weddings, corporate events and other special occasions. They have handled events for as many as 10,000 guests.
Most weddings are a little smaller than that, often between 150 and 300. Having a signature cocktail does just that. It puts a signature touch on the wedding.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, although it can be. Murray often advises couples that more complex drinks that require muddling or other time-consuming techniques might be delicious, but they tend to slow things down. If you don’t want your wedding guests waiting too long at the bar, you may want to choose something simpler.
“We have served rum and root beer or orange crushes,” Murray says. “They are easy to make, don’t cost a lot and they taste good.”
That rum and root beer might just turn into an R&R, which is especially appropriate if the couples’ names are Rebecca and Ross. An Orange Crush might get renamed: Got a Crush on You. Even a simple gin and tonic might become a Gwen & Tim.
You can have fun with names too, like the Funky Monkey or the Pretty in Pink.
Damien Morris of the Log Cabin has been bartending for years and does a lot of smaller weddings and events. He finds that couples might like classic cocktails like a mojito or an Old-Fashioned, but with a twist. Maybe the mojito is muddled with fresh in-season blackberries. The Old-Fashioned might feature fresh peach instead of orange.
Ashley Horst, director of catering at Plum Street Gourmet, doesn’t provide alcohol at weddings they cater, but she does work with bartenders to come up with ideas that complement the wedding food and theme. A fall wedding might feature a cocktail with apples or cranberry juice. A summer wedding might be inspired by lemonade and fresh strawberries or blueberries.
Signature cocktails don’t have to cost a lot. As Tim Weaver notes, it’s not the drinks that cost more or less. It is the brand choices that impact your budget, when choosing between top shelf, mid-range or “well” drinks. Price points per bottle of wine and champagne toast choices are what can make or break your budget, he adds.
“One way we suggest to couples to save money, and we know it is a tradition, and some people will disagree, but ditch the champagne toast,” Amber Weaver says. “We see so many weddings where people will take a sip and that is it. So a majority of it gets thrown out. Your guests can toast with what they have in hand.”