Visions of the beloved labels lined up behind your bar are dancing in your head, you’ve crafted customized signature sips that speak to your personalities and prepped for a round of welcome drinks that will have the festivites in full swing before you even step into the scene as newlyweds. What more can send your reception into a next level celebration? When it’s time to get sweet, surprise your guests with creative libations to coordinate with dessert service. 

“Traditionally, most guests stay with the same bar offerings for the entire event,” said Christian Pendleton, general manager of Brennan’s. “However, after the cake is cut, and the event draws to a close, bringing in new food and new drinks is a fun way to renew the energy and leaves guests talking about this unexpected surprise. Dessert cocktails can serve as a subtle reminder that the event is nearing its conclusion, while also demonstrating that every part of the event has been considered and planned. It opens the final chapter to the party.”

For winter weddings, Pendleton suggests ideas like an Irish coffee cocktail paired with a Bananas Foster station, or, for receptions during the day, a bar dedicated to brunch beverages like a brandy milk punch to pair with a doughnut or beignet display.

Quinn Richard, owner of Cocktail + Creative, reminds that it’s important to balance the savory and the sweet aspects to your cocktail choices during dessert service.

“You don’t want to overwhelm your guests with anything overly sweet,” said Richard, who suggests ideas like warm chai-based cocktails or apple brandy with bitters for cold weather weddings. “Depending on the season, you can really play up the flavor profiles by infusing your dessert cocktails with dried herbs, edible flowers or fruits. Bringing in those elements as garnishes that play up the color palette of your event also make very Instagrammable moments for your guests.” 

Richard sees these types of dessert drinks, which can be rolled in on bar carts as an unexpected treat after the toasts, as ways to create a more elevated experience. “Slow sippers help people take in the last hour or moments of the event and bring a little more refinement and camaraderie to the night.”

Drew Kingswell, bar manager at Saint John, considers the idea of dessert cocktail service as an exciting way to keep the party going, even as it’s winding down. 

“Dessert cocktails are a great way to end any dinner, or continue to enjoy the table’s company afterwards,” said Kingswell, suggesting ideas like pairing limoncello with lemon icebox pie or introducing edible shot glasses made of chocolate and filled with Godiva or Baileys.

“Even if someone is full, a surprise digestif can be an awesome way to keep them engaged and satisfied when everyone else is ready to leave.”