Top Wedding Bar List

By Sharon Naylor

October 31, 2012 5 min read

The drinks served at weddings have come a long way since the days of beer, wine and classic mixed drinks. Now the trend is for signature cocktails to wow guests with their creative blends of flavors and their vivid colors.

Contonna Peterson, COO of Bartending Unlimited, says: "Right now, the big trend is for signature fruity drinks. We're combining flavors such as a peach nectar and cranberry Bellini, as just one example of the blends of flavors for trendy new drinks."

Another example of Peterson's creations is fresh kiwi juice, Sprite and a hint of apple Pucker with a star-shaped kiwi perched on the edge of the glass. Peterson says that she's using fresh fruits and fresh fruit nectars for the best taste.

Mixologists are creating delectable blends of fruity flavors, which guests love because they are taste combinations they don't experience at other events or make for themselves. Drink creation is a new artistry, and Peterson says the show of bartenders mixing and shaking these drinks, pouring them out with a flourish, makes the drink experience even more spectacular.

"Brides and grooms who don't want to do a full bar are choosing to serve a selection of signature drinks," Peterson says, a fact that ties into today's budget concerns for brides and grooms. A full open bar with unlimited top-shelf liquors can be very expensive. When you design a collection of fruity, bright signature drinks in addition to classic beer and wine, it can look as if you've spent a lot but, in reality, may have saved money.

These trendy cocktails are most prevalent in bright colors, though paler drinks also may be on the menu. Peterson says many wedding couples are choosing vibrantly colored cocktails to match or coordinate with the color scheme of their wedding, for special effect that energizes the event's palette when those drinks are served at the bar and carried around by guests. The bride and groom also could have photos taken of themselves holding these signature cocktails, creating a color-coordinated photo tying into their day's overarching colors.

Peterson advises having drinks made to order. Here's why:

--Part of the excitement for guests is seeing the bartenders do the preparing in exciting steps, such as muddling and shaking, and guests see the lovely swirl of colors in their glasses as the drink is created.

--Guests prefer a fresh drink made just for them. It's the realm of a dive bar to have cocktails premade in a big jug and poured out into a glass. That's not good enough for your wedding and could turn guests off.

--Made-to-order drinks simply taste best, because premade drinks become diluted.

So even though you might think having premixed drinks on display -- such as on the bar or at a drink station -- would be a great visual effect, as you may have seen on Pinterest, made-to-order is always the best plan.

Let guests know what they have to look forward to, with a printed list of your signature cocktail flavors on display at the bar. It's a big trend for brides and grooms to give their signature drinks a personalized name, such as Phoebe's peach and cranberry Bellini, but you can simply list the drinks by their ingredients. Couples enjoy the fun of giving their drinks names personalized to their love story or favorite things, such as a cocktail named after their alma mater -- for example, a blue cocktail named for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Additional drinks that are popular at weddings are cultural drinks, such as sake or grappa, and even without a cultural connection, sangria is a very popular bar list choice for its colorful and fruity taste.

And of course, classic cocktails, such as the Tom Collins and the sidecar, are still popular so that the traditional guests who love those particular drinks may enjoy what they're used to.

Beers and flavorful microbrewed beers -- especially microbrews tailored to the season of the wedding, such as a pumpkin beer -- are also top trends in wedding drink lists.

Champagne may be offered for the entirety of the event, if that suits your budget, or you might choose to follow the popular budget strategy of just offering a fine Champagne to guests upon their arrival or for the toast during the reception. Prosecco and Spanish cava are also budget-friendly bubbly options.

No matter the drink type, additional garnishes, such as raspberries popped into the glass or fruits set on the edge of the glass or even spears of olives, add that perfect finishing touch.

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