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If you’re planning to serve cocktails at your wedding reception, having talent behind the bar can spice up your party. But there’s a tradeoff when five people are waiting for drinks and the person at the back of the line just wants to grab a beer and return to the dance floor.
That’s why we’re big fans of the DIY Cocktail Bar. Having premixed cocktails available for people to pour is not only convenient since people can pour themselves a drink rather than wait in line, but if you get the right containers the setup looks great.
Let’s consider what a DIY cocktail option could look like.Three cocktails is a good number to have; you can cover enough liquor styles to satisfy most people’s tastes. You’ll need a whiskey-based cocktail, a vodka-based cocktail and the third spirit should reflect the style of the wedding. Think gin, rum or tequila.
Stores that stock kitchen supplies normally sell beverage containers; the most common sizes being between one and two and a half gallons. There are 128 ounces in a gallon and since an average-sized cocktail is four ounces, there are roughly 32 drinks per a gallon. If you have three, one-gallon containers of cocktails, you’ve got roughly 90 to 100 drinks on tap. A good start for an epic party.
It’s best to get a container that has a metal tap, a wide base to prevent it from tipping over and a removable chiller column. Fill the chiller column with ice early on to keep the drinks from getting watered down but later in the evening, you may want to put ice directly in the container to help people keep hydrated.These classic cocktails are delicious, elegant and simple to mix by the gallon.
Manhattan: This 19th-century cocktail is always in style. Two parts rye whiskey or bourbon to one part sweet vermouth. For a gallon, add 4 to 5 teaspoons Angostura bitters. Garnish: Maraschino cherriesFarnel: Think of this as a lighter drier version of a Lynchburg Lemonade. Make this one with one part Tennessee Whiskey, three parts lemonade. Garnish: Lime wedge and mint sprig.Rusty Nail: Invented in the 1930s, this classic was the drink of choice for the Rat Pack: Two parts Scotch Whisky to one part Drambuie.
Martini: From 1900 to 1950, the martini was two parts gin to one part vermouth; people who wanted it “dry” ordered it with dry vermouth. This recipe is a vodka spin on the classic cocktail: two parts vodka to one part dry vermouth. If you make a gallon, stir in one teaspoon Angostura bitters. Garnish: OlivesCosmo: Still the best vodka sour drink ever: Three parts lemon vodka, two parts Cointreau, one part lime juice, just enough cranberry juice to color Garnish: Lemon twist.Sex on the Beach: If you are having a beach wedding, this cocktail may be mandatory: Two parts vodka, one part peach schnapps, two parts orange juice, two parts cranberry juice. Garnish: Orange slice.
Negroni: Equal parts gin, Campari, sweet vermouth. Garnish: Orange peel.
Greyhound: The original version from the 1930s used gin as the spirit but vodka is more common today. One part gin to four parts grapefruit juice.
Margarita: Sometimes nothing else will do: three parts tequila, two parts Cointreau, one part fresh-squeezed lime juice. Garnish: Lime wedge.
Pegu Club: 3 parts gin, 2 parts Cointreau or orange curaçao, 1 part lime juice, two dashes Angostura bitters per drink.
Buy a sample beverage container at least a month before the reception and fill it with water or ice tea to see if it works as advertised.
Buy chalkboard stickers or otherwise make labels for each beverage container and garnish bowl.
Instead of three cocktails, you might want one or more containers of sangria. If so, buy containers that have a removable flavor column to hold the fruit. Loose fruit floating in the container itself plugs up the spigot.Have a couple of designated monitors for the beverage and ice supply. Recruit a groomsman and a bridesmaid for this.
To keep the party going, store extra bottles to refill the containers in an iced cooler near the bar and package them together. For example, if you’re serving negronis, have one bottle each of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth in a bag, labeled.
When a cocktail runs out toward the end of the reception, fill the container with water and ice. Many times people intend on drinking water toward the end of a party, but don’t find any handy.
You’ll also need beer, wine, and cocktails, juice, soda and water for a reception. A good rule of thumb for determining how much to have on hand is two drinks per person at dinner, two drinks per person for the first hour of the reception and one drink per hour per person for the rest of the time you have the reception space.
Having wine served with dinner can be straightforward, figure one bottle for every two or three adults and two bottles of red for each bottle of white. For beer buy cans, bottles, or growlers rather than a keg. Most areas of the country have a craft beer scene so be sure to have a solid representation of local brews. People from out of town especially enjoy trying something new.