Raising spirits with signature drinks
Couples looking for another way to personalize their event are adding signature cocktails to their receptions. Frequently fruity, colorful and fancifully named, the drink can be a light refreshment for the summer or hot and spicy for the cooler months.
The bride and groom may even want to share the backstory behind the drink. A memory from their first date? A special vacation? Or the night they got engaged?
Michele Lallemand and Joseph Brazil chose a different specialty drink for every wedding weekend event. The Lallemand family recipe for margaritas was the feature of the rehearsal dinner clambake and mojitos were served at the reception.
They even offered a pre-wedding drink. Because the ceremony was at the Lambert’s Cove Inn and the guests numbered 300, people were transported in a series of buses down the long, narrow road to the inn. The couple served champagne with strawberries to the early arrivals while they waited for the whole group to assemble.
At their reception, Marti Wade and Dean Shaw served champagne with wild hibiscus flowers — the edible flower sits at the bottom of the glass and as the champagne bubbles around it, the petals unfurl. Raspberry-flavored hibiscus syrup comes with the flowers and can make the drink any color from pink to dark red.
Drink combinations using rum and vodka also come with the flowers; even stranger than the fizzing flower is the Adam and Eve Martini, involving possibly the oddest ingredient ever to go in a cocktail — baby food.
Lynchburg Lemonade, made with the Tennessee town’s most famous product, Jack Daniel’s, is a feature at many Vineyard weddings. Missy Glassmaker, who is from Tennessee, chose to serve it in mason jars at her wedding. If you don’t fancy floating flowers, other beachy combinations might do. The Web site drinksmixer.com offers an enormous variety of drinks and each recipe can be scaled to fit the number of people at the reception.
Some drink names might require creativity to make them more personal. Beetlejuice Punch could become Beetlebung Punch. Perhaps the Cape Cod Islander should only be consumed by someone with a split personality or who is confused by signs in the rotary. Sand In Your Shorts needs no help. Just decorating the drinks with blueberries, cherries, mint or pomegranates turns an ordinary drink into something special, but don’t forget to tell your caterer in advance that you’ll need these garnishes. Even iced tea becomes a signature drink with peach or strawberry puree added.
A sign at the bar can describe the concoction and a recipe card gives guests a souvenir to take home. The glassware for the signature cocktail is important too. The couple has to decide on their presentation — will it be best in flutes, goblets, highballs, old fashioneds or those summery mason jars.
It’s easy to create non-alcoholic adaptations of any of these drinks for all the guests to enjoy. Whether it’s Perrier-Jouët or just Perrier, specialty drinks are another personal touch at receptions.
Wild Hibiscus Daiquiri
3 oz. white rum
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. Wild Hibiscus Flower syrup
Wild Hibiscus Flower garnish
Place flower in martini glass and stand upright. Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into glass, garnish with lime wheel.
Adam and Eve Martini
2 oz. vodka
3 oz. apple puree baby food
1 oz. Wild Hibiscus Flower syrup
Wild Hibiscus Flower, cherry and chopstick for garnish
Stuff flower with cherry, skewer from side with chopstick for garnish. Shake together ingredients on ice. Strain into glass. Lay chopstick over the glass.
Recipes from wildhibiscus.com
1 part Jack Daniel’s whiskey
1 part sweet and sour mix
1 part triple sec
4 parts Sprite
Add ice and stir. Garnish with lemon slices and cherries.
1/2 oz. vodka
sweet and sour mix
1/2 oz. melon liqueur
1 speared pineapple chunk
1/2 oz. Blue Curacao liqueur
1/2 oz. raspberry schnapps
1/2 oz. cranberry juice
In a tall mixing glass with ice pour the vodka on the bottom. Then fill the glass 3/4 full with sour mix. Pour in the rest of the ingredients one at a time. Garnish with pineapple spear and cherry.
Cape Cod Islander
1 oz. vodka
2 1/2 oz. cranberry juice
3/4 oz. Sprite
1/2 oz. coconut rum
1/4 oz. pineapple juice
Pour the vodka into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Add the cranberry juice and Sprite. Top with the coconut rum and pineapple juice in the center of the drink. Stir slightly and serve.
Sand In Your Shorts
1/2 oz. Chambord raspberry liqueur
1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. peach schnapps
1/2 oz. Midori melon liqueur
1/2 oz. triple sec
3 oz. cranberry juice
3 oz. orange juice
1 oz. sweet and sour mix
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake and strain over ice in a tall glass.
Recipes from drinksmixer.com
[Originally published in the May 8, 2009 issue of the Vineyard Gazette's Wedding Planner; reviewed for updates in 2012.]