There’s no denying we all love an open bar at a wedding. But for the time being, we’ll need to pump the booze breaks a bit and come up with inventive ways to imbibe in a socially responsible way. Luckily in New Orleans, where there’s a swill, there’s a way.
When your guests arrive at the reception, you’ll want to instantly put them in celebration mode. James Filtz, director of meetings and special events at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, suggests an entry presentation of chilled beverages to the tune of batched cocktails like whiskey sours in sealable glass bottles or a variety of canned wine and hard seltzers.
“It provides a social lubricant to a group of people who may not know each other through the form of an alcoholic beverage when they walk into the event,” said Filtz of the importance of the welcome drink. “Especially with distancing requirements, it can be difficult to serve people quickly and efficiently. A bottled cocktail handed to each guest is a great idea to make this happen!”
Once your guests have entered the party, Quinn Richard, owner of Cocktail+Creative, recommends an ultra-curated cocktail experience to wow your guests.
“Since you’re not necessarily doing the volume of drink options,” said Richard, “why not bring the level of a curated experience through the roof?”
He recommends spirited tableside presentations for specific drink pairings that complement the food and accentuate the table settings.
“Tableside service slows the tempo down a little bit and makes the experience a whole spectacle for the guests,” said Richard. “It’s not about how much you can get out of an hour, but how much you can get out of three hours.”
Haley Kennel, catering sales manager at Windsor Court Hotel, also speaks to the appeal of tableside cocktail service.
“There’s a kind of VIP treatment that can happen when the drinks are delivered and made just for you,” said Kennel, noting this can happen by way of a personalized cocktail cart equipped with accoutrements delivered by a designated server for the table.
“This has the added benefit of making each guest feel like they’re being personally waited on,” she says.
Kennel notes that although that service might not be the vision the bride originally imagined for her reception bar, there is something exciting to be said for customizing the experience in a new and unexpected way.
“We may not be able to do everything the way we used to,” said Kennel, “but we’re excited to introduce something memorable, that is unique to the bride and groom, where guests will think ‘Wow, now this is so cool’.”
This article originally ran in the Summer/Autumn 2020 issue of New Orleans Bride Magazine.