There’s no better way to personalise your wedding reception and set the tone like a quirky cocktail. Guests will probably be thirsty from all the mingling and taking photographs after the ceremony, so a delicious tipple should be just the shot in the arm they need in the run up to dinner. And later on in the evening, a sweet beverage like a boozy hot chocolate can keep everyone going till midnight, especially if you’re getting married in the colder months.
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Indeed, what people serve up at weddings has become just as important as details such as the venue and dress, according to wedding planner, Katrina Otter. “Over the past few years weddings have evolved at a dramatic rate and whilst some trends come and go, one that remains consistent is the importance couples now place on food and drink and how carefully considered and intrinsically tied these are into an overall wedding vibe or style.”
A popular option is to assemble a DIY prosecco or gin and tonic ‘station’ and invite guests to personalise their drinks, with a choice of garnishes and syrups to make their simple glass of fizz stand out.
Or if you and your partner both like a different kind of liqueur, you can combine the two to really make your reception cocktail as much of a meaningful signature as your first dance
“The cocktails could also follow the recipes of ones the couple have enjoyed together in the past,” says Douglas Blyde, wine consultant and drinks columnist. “For example, if they met over mezcal cocktails at 45 Jermyn St. they should get the formula and share the drink with their guests.”
With all that in mind, we’ve come up with some fantastic suggestions to get you inspired, from classics, to new creations to old favourites with a jazzy twist.
And the fun part? Try and mix up a few of these at home or ask your venue’s bartender to create several ‘taster’ cocktails before you decide which ones you want to go with. (This wedding planning … such a chore eh?)
The Instagrammable cocktail – Gordon’s Fruit and Leaf
A jazzy alternative to the typical glass of fizz on arrival, this combines Gordon’s Sloe Gin, apple juice and prosecco with a vibrant lime leaf pinned to the glass to make it extra Pinterest-worthy!
The ‘rise and shine’ cocktail – Grapefruit Mimosa
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Traditionally the first meal after the ceremony is called a wedding breakfast, no matter the time of day. This is because couples used to fast from the night before, so they could add extra significance to their first meal as newlyweds. You might not want to be that traditional, but if you like the idea of calling it a ‘breakfast’, this twist on the classic mimosa will perfectly fit the theme. Grapefruit juice and prosecco are all you need!
The designated driver cocktail/mocktail – Faux Kir
When it comes to wedding cocktails, it’s important to include non-boozy varieties. Don’t forget several of your guests will be driving – not to mention people who are pregnant or under the legal drinking age. (Some people might just want to pace themselves if they have a full day of drinking ahead!) So this tee-total twist on a Kir Royale will allow everyone to join in the celebrations. Use sparkling grape juice instead of the traditional champagne and mix with blackcurrant liqueur as usual.
The jet-setters’ cocktail – Blue Margarita
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Planning a tropical beach wedding? Even if you’re not – you can still channel beach vibes with this dazzling oceanic concoction. Mix in the tequila and lime juice as you would with a traditional ‘marg’ and then use blue curaçao to replace the triple sec of the original recipe.
The cocktail for gin lovers – Seasonal Secret
For this you can use any high-quality citrus gin combined with rose Vermouth and honey, topped up with Double Dutch Indian tonic. Decorate with raspberries and sliced dried oranges for an artistic flourish.
The cocktail for late night nibbles – Johnnie Walker Ginger Fig
For this long, spicy post-dinner cocktail, Johnnie Walker Black Label is combined with fig syrup, lemon and ginger ale, with half a fig placed on top to garnish. The flavours of fig and ginger pair perfectly with the post-dinner cheese board.
The ‘last men standing’ cocktail – Old Fashioned
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A timeless classic, with ‘Mad Men’-style panache, this aromatic combination of whiskey, Angostura bitters, sugar syrup and orange zest is the perfect tipple to take you into the early hours when the last handful of guests are propping up the bar.
The USA-inspired cocktail – Kahlua and Coke Ice Cream Float
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If it’s a transatlantic wedding or one of you is American – or you just both bonded over a trip to the States, try this twist on a classic diner staple: the root beer float. Coke (or root beer), Kalua and a few scoops of ice cream are all you need for this scrumptious dessert drink.
The energising cocktail for flagging guests – Espresso Martini
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Weddings are a fun but no doubt tiring affair, (especially for the bridal party who have probably been up since the early hours). For an extra jolt of pizzazz to see you thought to the evening, swap the traditional after-dinner coffee for a chic espresso martini: 60ml vodka or gin, served with a shot of espresso and coffee liqueur.
The hot chocolate cocktail – Baileys Forest Chocolate
The perfect way to warm up your guests at a winter wedding, this combines Baileys Chocolat Luxe, hot chocolate and cherry liqueur, which you can garnish with a melted chocolate rim and cherry pieces.
Memorable drinks need quirky food to match – read our pick of the most unusual wedding food ideas.