Monday, April 4, 2011


Here’s something important to both of us at our wedding- the drinks. We’re not lushes (shut up! I’m NOT!) but we definitely like to drink when we celebrate- as does the bulk of our friends and family and, oh yeah, the rest of the world.

Several of the venues we’re investigating would require us to provide our own bar. We’d be hiring bartenders and renting glassware and equipment, but we’d be responsible for bringing our own liquor- and I’m actually excited about that! I love trying new cocktails, wines, and beers. Over the last few years, NYC has seen an abundance of old fashioned cocktails come back on to the scene, as well some amazing artisanal cocktails. I love Trophy Bar, Cornelius, Death & Co, and so many other places for their amazing drinks.

Despite its reputation as an extraneous wedding detail, I love the idea of serving signature drinks at our wedding bar. I’d love to highlight a few of our favorites, but I’ll also serve all the standards. So the signature cocktails would be a way to share a part of our lives at our wedding. Michael has a very Brooklyn-centric favorite drink, and I’d love to feature some of my favorite cocktails from around the neighborhood as well.

What I’m trying to figure out, is how many other drinks should I be prepared to serve??

I’ll surely have the standards- all different types of liquor with accompanying sodas, tonics, juices and liqueurs to make ‘standards’- rum&coke, vodka cranberry, martinis, etc.

Even if we don’t end up stocking our own bar, many venues require you to choose a liquor package- generally, a low-budget, no-name brand ‘House’ option, a premium, or Ultra premium. Which leaves you wondering… is Absolut ‘good enough’ for my guests? Do I need to spend the extra $1500 (or up to $3000 in many cases) so that they can opt for Grey Goose? Oy.

For self-catering, many liquor stores will allow you to return unopened bottles if you’re buying in bulk and arrange it with them ahead of time, so I’m not too concerned with overspending. BUT I also don’t want to end up with 20 different liqueurs and bitters that were opened to make a single drink, so I can’t go to town and buy absolutely EVERYTHING. The easy solution is to just have the standards, but this actually is an important detail to me- I want my guests to have lots of options, and to drink things that they like, and that are of a good quality.

I don't think these will be on the menu

I’ve found several resources for stocking a bar online so I know what the minimum I need is, and god knows I’ve done enough independent research ;), but for the hell of it, I’d love it if you would weigh in!

[Keep in mind this will be spring/summer- not the dead of summer, but definitely warm weather.]

● What’s your favorite drink?
● What’s your favorite drink at weddings or parties?
● What have you noticed as being very popular at large events?
● Any random favorite you’d like to give a shout out to? (For instance, I know my cousin loves Stoli Raspberry, and my brother’s been on a Southern Comfort kick.)
● I’m hesitant to have blender drinks because I think they might be too loud- would you be sad if you couldn’t have a frozen daiquiri or margarita?
● Do you think some ‘custom made’ drinks like sangria and/or rum punch would be popular?
● Beer or wine preferences? How large of a selection do you think there should be?
● Would you be likely to try a local beer or wine if it was on offer, or a new cocktail if you liked the ingredients, or would you be more likely to stick with your favorites?
● Non-alcoholic options- on a warm evening, is there anything you’d like to see offered besides soda, water and juice? Sparkling water, lemonade, etc?
● What do you think of ‘beer and wine only’ receptions? (Not our preference but one venue we looked at did have this restriction)
● What do you think of ‘dry’ receptions?
● What do you think of cash bars?
● What do you think of the bar closing for an hour during dinner?
(Neither of the three above are options we are really considering, but they’re hot topics over at the Offbeat Bride Tribe, so I’m just curious what my friends and blog readers think.)
● What do you think is necessary as far as the quality of drinks? Would you be okay with the ‘middle’ range, that includes brands like Absolut, Bacardi, and Jim Beam, or do you think top shelf should be made available to your guests?

If you just want to answer one or two questions, or just tell me what you like to drink, any feedback would be great! I know everyone will have different opinions, and I’d love to hear any and all. (All I ask is that you try to stay positive and be nice, please!) Thanks and happy drinking!


  1. All right chica, here goes.

    I drink stoli raspberry and cranberry juice, no lime. Big straw. If that is available, I am happy. If there is smirnoff raspberry, I will still be happy. If there are no big straws, I will manage, but be less happy. See, how this goes?

    Anyway, dry receptions suck, cash bars also suck. Closing the bar also sucky.

    There is no need to go for the ultra pricey option. If you know that there is one person who LOVES Grey Goose(or other pricey liquor) purchase them a bottle, put their name on it and tell the bartender that it is just for a particular person(we did this at my wedding for my stepdad).

    In my very humble opinion, choose the option one above the house brands. Most people will be happy.

    Hope that helps!!

  2. What I think is this -
    Beer, wine and vodka are a must. Definitely go higher than house brand, but only one level up. After a few drinks no one really cares anymore. Sangria is a great idea. Haven't seen it at a wedding, but I sure would get it if it were an option. Cash bars and closing the bar are a horrible idea.

    As far as beers go, try choosing a light, dark, somewhere in between and a local. Covers it all. If they don't like it...screw em. They're not paying anyway. Soda, juice and water are fine.

    Know what is cool though? My friend and her husband are drinkers. She spent a lot of money on the bar (her preference) and even got a cordial table. Just a table, full of tiny empty chocolate cups, with a bartender behind and lots of sweet liquors. It was a really, really big hit. Just sayin...

  3. For our wedding, we did all of it ourselves. We didn't want to spend a ton of money on a full bar, so Morgan made up some signature drinks (you can see the menu here: They had a few different alcohols in them (vodka, bourbon, gin, cachaca). Then we had wine, and a keg of good beer. Everyone loved it. Lots of people said they tried one each of the signature drinks. No one seemed to miss whatever their "old standby" was in terms of hard alcohol, and there were definitely people who stuck to beer and wine too.

    For non-alcoholic, in addition to water, we had a sparkling punch that was made up of some of those fizzy juice drinks.

    If your space is small or has good acoustics, I'd really hesitate to have a blender. In my opinion, people can have their margaritas on the rocks, or drink something else.

  4. What I've noticed at weddings is that people generally choose the obvious as the 1st couple of drinks, then really can't tell the difference once the buzz has kicked in. So if someone's standard drink is a pinot grigio, they'll usually go for that initially (unless there's a special drink available). Also, a lot of people get drinks for others, so its not like drinks with very detailed and specific ingredients are ordered a lot, which might lead to a lot of wastage. I agree that you should go with top-shelf, but no need for anything ultra.

  5. I'm not much of a drinker, but I do love a good chardonnay. Actually, that Santa Margherita pinot grigio we had a while back was pretty yum. In other words, I like white wine. That and plenty of water refills will keep me happy.

    Re: cordial table with chocolate cups... I have seen this several times and it never gets old!

    I would also vote against the blender. Sangria sounds great though. Just, uh... put the rum on the side please. ;)