Your friends and family are thrilled to share in your wedded bliss. They’re also just as happy to partake in your wedding bar. From Sazeracs and Sidecars to Mint Juleps and French 75s, appeal to their buzzy behavior and give them an experience to remember with a cocktail reception selection that celebrates the classics in true New Orleans style.
“In most cases, a signature cocktail is the first impression that guests have as they enter the wedding reception,” said Sarah Hall, President of Joel Catering.
“Serving a classic cocktail sends a message that the reception is going to be a great, fun night but also rooted in tradition and history. A great precedent to set at the start of a marriage.”
When it comes to a welcome cocktail, Hall suggests greeting them with lighter content drinks.
“Unless there is something that has personal significance, I generally advise against a super heavy welcome cocktail,” said Hall. “A classic Sazerac isn’t necessarily a walk in the door cocktail. You don’t want people to get accidentally drunk too early.”
Instead, she suggests celebrated sips like a Brandy Milk Punch or a Pimm’s Cup.
Hall also reminds that out of town guests may not be wise to the potency of the more NOLA-centric cocktails.
“Based on its traditional look, a Mint Julep — with a fresh sprig of mint and shiny silver cup — it’s so pretty that people are drawn to its presentation,” said Hall. “But for guests who aren’t aware it’s a bourbon drink, and that the visual doesn’t match their flavor expectations, they may not choose to drink it. You want to be serving drinkable drinks.”
For a signature drink that appeals to wedding goers visiting New Orleans for the first time, Meagan Cook, director of catering & conference Services at the Windsor Court Hotel, recommends the Hurricane.
“For guests from out of state or out of country, the Hurricane is always a smashing success,” said Cook. “Our out of town guests are usually excited to try it out.”
Cook also suggests dressing up a classic cocktail to customize it and give it a fresh take.
“Specialty garnishes are an endless option,” said Cook. “You can add a puff of cotton candy as a whimsical topper. Also the use of a large square or sphere of ice to chill down a cocktail always switches up the presentation.”
Quinn Richard, owner of Cocktail + Creative has seen a significant upswing in classic cocktails as a request from couples over the past few years. He touts the idea of unexpected twists as an element of surprise for guests, like a smoked tequila or rum-infused Old Fashioned.
“It blows the couples and guests away,” said Richard. “These small details create huge impacts for them. And when torches and smoke are involved, how can it not be great?”
Because the mixing, muddling, shaking and stirring that comes with classic cocktails tend to take extra time and can slow down the flow of the service, Richard suggests separating the classic cocktail service at your reception from the full service bar.
“Ultimately if the guests aren’t getting their drinks, they aren’t happy guests,” said Richard. “The more you break it up, the more it flows.”
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of New Orleans Bride Magazine.