How to personalize the wedding bar

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)
First something old. Then something new. A borrowed item and a bit of blue. Sounds like all the makings of a great wedding cocktail.
Welcome to the new era of wedding traditions, where signature cocktails have become a must-have at wedding receptions.
Whether you’re offering a full open bar or providing a more streamlined selection of beverages, guests will appreciate your thoughtful attention to drink choices. The ideal wedding bar requires some basic math, practical know-how and personal inspiration.
Consider who’s attending
Think about the drink preferences of guests. Be sure to have a few nonalcoholic options for nondrinkers, and gauge the crowd. If your guests are primarily wine drinkers, you may opt not to serve beer or cocktails. If you’re serving only wine, stock appropriately.
To determine how much wine to serve, divide your total number of guests by 2.5. That number will be the number of bottles you’ll need. For example, 200 adult guests will drink roughly 80 bottles of wine, or approximately seven cases. It’s a good idea to purchase an extra case of wine to ensure that you don’t run out just when the dance floor is heating up.
Perhaps your friends are into craft brews. A keg of a small producer’s beer will be a special addition to your bar menu. How about having a groom’s keg at the wedding? Riffing on the concept of a groom’s cake, a groom’s keg from a favorite small beer producer could pair with special beer mugs for groomsmen.
Jane’s Beer Store in downtown Mountain View carries a vast selection of special small producers. Kegs can be ordered and picked up at the shop’s 720 Villa St. location.

Timing matters

The time of year and time of day of your reception play a large part in selecting your wine. For spring and summer weddings, when the weather is warm, rosé and white wines should be on the menu. In the fall and winter, red wines are the more popular choice.
Sparkling wine is welcome regardless of the time of year, but your event’s time of day will impact how you might enjoy your bubbly. Serving a midday meal? Consider offering a champagne sangria. Partying late into the night? Keep the sparkling wine cold and flowing.
One local couple kicked off their married life by enjoying a newlywed-only bottle of champagne.
“My husband, Jonny, and I drank from a private bottle of champagne throughout the night,” said Los Altos teacher Stephanie Hanses. “It was something special we had saved for the occasion. It was a personal touch to our day that we both enjoyed.”

Signature cocktails

The post-wedding buzz is one of my favorite things. Rehashing stories of the day and discussing special details from the flowers to the vows is always a thrill. When the happy couple serve a signature cocktail, it can help with the budget by reducing the amount of liquor options. Plus, the drink will give guests one more element to gush about.
When Town Crier Food Editor Eliza Ridgeway got married, her husband, Morgan Mager, decided to showcase Moscow Mules.
“I thought it would be fun to have cocktails, and I wanted something that wasn’t just liquor and a mixer – but you can’t have a million juices on hand, so it makes sense to have a signature cocktail,” he said.
According to Mager, everyone likes ginger, and it was a hot August wedding, so he thought it would be a refreshing drink people would enjoy.
“It is a light, palate-cleansing cocktail that will go with whatever else you’re drinking,” he added. “It’s a little bit out of the normal, enough to be notable, but not so far out as to push anyone’s boundaries – a wedding isn’t the time and place for that.”


Following is my recipe for Christine’s Something Blue Cocktail, a wedding-day signature concoction. The something old is an aged bourbon. The new is the drink’s made-for-the-day lime simple syrup. The blue is the berries. Consider the borrowed part of the drink the actual recipe, which I offer to you with joy.

Christine’s Something Blue Cocktail

• 2 ounces good bourbon
• 1 ounce lime simple syrup (made with one part water, one part sugar and lime zest)
• Handful fresh blueberries and blackberries (more for garnish)
• Handful fresh mint (more for garnish)
• Ice
Add berries, mint and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Muddle several times to macerate berries. Add ice and bourbon and shake vigorously. Strain into old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with mint and additional berries. Alternatively, serve in highball glass topped with club soda and the same garnish.


  1. Glad to know about the wedding drinks and its preparations. It will really help me in choosing cocktails for my brother’s bachelor party at one of the exquisite New York wedding venues next month. Have already explored many online sites and will order drinks soon.


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