In a libation-loving city like New Orleans, deciding on which sips to serve your guests is top shelf on your “I Do” to-do list. Preferring classic cocktails that speak best to the spirit, tradition and culture of the Crescent City over gimmicks and trendy mixology, couples are serving drinks that delight guests across multiple generations, like a mint julep, gin fizz, Sazerac or Pimm’s Cup. After all, what’s more tried and true than a drink that’s been pleasing palates and filling flutes for decades?
Leah Berhanu, Director of Sales and Marketing for Pigeon Catering and Events, considers the classic cocktail a way of lending the reception an air of sophistication and saw a resurgence around the time “The Great Gatsby” made a comeback.
“Everyone started doing metallics and sequins and feathers and the classic cocktail rolled right into that vibe,” said Berhanu. “It’s like we went from the vodka luge to a bourbon bar overnight.”
As an addition to the bar set up, Berhanu has seen couples bring in connoisseurs to speak to the history of the cocktail and the tradition behind what makes each so special.
“Bringing in an expert to talk through the cocktails and provide some education can be a fun way to add some appreciation of what’s being served,” said Berhanu.
An upswing in the return of the classic cocktail has also been noticed by Wyatt Lowrey, Bar Manager at church-turned-restaurant, Vessel Nola.
“As far as the Vessel classics go, I find that most grooms like to have a whiskey cocktail of some kind — either an Old Fashioned or a Sazerac — while the brides tend to lean towards a French 75 or even martinis,” said Lowrey.
Open just over a year, Vessel has played host venue to receptions and bridal brunches where the classic cocktail is celebrated, often with modern twists like big ice balls or specialty glasses, as well as with personalization presentation.
“The bride and groom tend to rename the cocktails to something that is meaningful to their relationship,” said Lowrey.
This is exactly what Lowrey himself did during his March wedding ceremony and reception at the Civic Theater.
“For my wedding, we made a menu that consisted of our favorite drinks,” said Lowrey. “The names of the cocktails had special meaning to my wife Tyler and me.”
He and his bride served a La Paloma and named it Alexis Tyler, a whiskey and ginger named Bart and a French 75 spin-off dubbed Lane 13.
“The first two were the names that Tyler and I had for each other in our phones,” said Lowrey. “She was my boss when we first met, so we had to keep things pretty quiet when we started dating. So we put each other’s name as something different in our phones. Lane 13 was the nickname of a place we would meet up at work.”
When the reasons behind the drinks were revealed during the wedding festivities, everyone was tickled.
Lowrey says, “Most people were saying how cute an idea it was — there was a lot of laughter.”