Tasty wedding cocktails!
April 11, 2012 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Wedding Cocktails: looking for recommendations, and a question about pre-mixing (and storing) alcohol.

Getting married in June, and we'd like to have a signature cocktail (or two).

Right now, I think I'm leaning to a favorite of ours, the Aviation (gin, lemon, maraschino, and creme de violette). We make a lot of these at home, and they're always popular. And delicious!

Also thinking about a French 75 (bubbly, gin, lemon).

Can you recommend any other favorite summery cocktails?

Also: what are the mixological rules, if any, with respect to pre-mixing alcohols? We'd like to keep our wedding bar moving. And, more generally, I'd just as soon pre-mix a batch of gin and vermouth in my preferred proportions and then just decant that, rather than shaking every serving.

Can you pre-mix alcohols and store it? Of course, I would leave out any biological components, so lemon would be added later.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Summer's a very good time for a Pimm's Cup. And Pimm's No. 1 comes pre-mixed right like that, so you'd only have to add the lemonade or lemon soda (depending on whether you want it fizzy).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also: what are the mixological rules, if any, with respect to pre-mixing alcohols? We'd like to keep our wedding bar moving. And, more generally, I'd just as soon pre-mix a batch of gin and vermouth in my preferred proportions and then just decant that, rather than shaking every serving

This part confuses me. Are you tending bar at your own wedding? Is no one tending bar? What exactly is the set up here?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:46 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Pimm's Cup is a great idea, both because they're delicious, and because we'll have some Britons with us.

In a similar vein, we do a lot of Campari and sodas, Negronis (real and fake) and pastis at home--but other than those configurations, I don't know what I'd do with those liquors. They're nice and summery, so if anyone has ideas about them in a summer cocktail, I'd be grateful.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:46 AM on April 11, 2012

Summer is also prime mojito season. I tend to make mojitos from scratch as ordered at a party, but I know many people who whip up a batch at a time - but this would not lend itself to storage due to the club soda. But you could mix/muddle the rum, sugar/syrup, lime and mint together and join that with the soda in the pour.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:47 AM on April 11, 2012

Response by poster: This part confuses me. Are you tending bar at your own wedding? Is no one tending bar? What exactly is the set up here?

No, a bartender would be pouring, but we want to keep the bar line moving. An Aviation, for instance, has four components, and the recipe I use takes 2 oz / 1/2 oz / 1/3 oz / 1/6 ounce proportions, and it's a little slow to mix (too much Creme de Violette makes it gross, so you do have to be mindful). "More generally" refers to my evening martini.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:52 AM on April 11, 2012

Premixing allows for increased oxygenation, which may mellow out tannic flavors but allow aromatics to escape.

You could use this to your advantage to create a truly unique signature drink, as is done in barrel-aged cocktails.
posted by quasistoic at 9:52 AM on April 11, 2012

We've pre-mixed for parties, and it always works out fine. I don't think we've even left out the lemon juice, but it can't hurt (although I'd have a jar or whatever of it already squeezed so you don't have to squeeze as you pour).

Another suggestion: the Corpse Reviver #2, which is ridiculously delicious and quite easy (it's one part everything except the absinthe, which is only rinsed in the glass). It is not, however, inexpensive, as Cointreau ain't cheap. Also, maybe the name isn't very wedding-y.

posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love a white sangria, they're lighter and fresher than a red and you don't have to worry about stains. Plus fruits look gorgeous in it. The good thing about that is that you can totally mix it beforehand and it will be great for the first person in line all the way to the last. Seconding Pimm's for the same reasons and you can use almost the same fruit mix for both.
posted by like_neon at 10:06 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Batching is absolutely fine with citrus, as long as you don't store it for more than a day.

For our wedding, two bartender friends made giant buckets of each cocktail, using freshly squeezed juices. They were stored in an airtight container and used that night. But the bartender still has to shake or stir to order, to get to temperature and reach the right water dilution. The batch is only good for a day or so.

Even famous cocktail bars (such as PDT in NYC) batch as part of their standard operating procedure, to cut down on time spent measuring ingredients. Yet they always shake or stir to order.

Our menu was:
Dark & Stormy
Tequila East Side
Sake Lemonade
Old Fashioned

I'd definitely make sure you've got a balance between different spirit bases (gin, rum, tequila, etc).

Also look into a Jasmine cocktail if you like Campari.
posted by kathryn at 10:07 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been on The Delmonico lately. Delicious.
posted by brentajones at 10:11 AM on April 11, 2012

Some friends of mine make gin and tonic in a keg for summer parties and we pour them like beer. Though I forget the proportions when you make them in that size...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:11 AM on April 11, 2012

we want to keep the bar line moving

Pimm's = bucket plus ladle, and you keep it topped up. Keep the fruit salad on the side, if you're picky. That definitely keeps the bar line moving.

I don't see any reason why you shouldn't do things punchbowl-style at a wedding.
posted by holgate at 10:19 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The bartenders will thank you for coming up with a few signature cocktails that can be mixed up beforehand, and it'll be easier for them if they don't have to be shaken individually. Some bars will just add a little water to get the dilution that would come with shaking or stirring, so that might be a good option.

Things like Pimm's Cup and Sangria that can be done punch style are even easier - but I'm with you, and Aviation is a thing of beauty on a summer day. Enjoy!
posted by ldthomps at 10:33 AM on April 11, 2012

Pimm's Cup is such a great suggestion. It is my current favorite warm-weather drink!

I'd also recommend considering a bourbon based cocktail to counter the gin-based Aviation. What about a mint julep or orange buck?
posted by joan_holloway at 10:38 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pre mixing is fine except for any garnishes or fresh herbs.

In my experience, as delicious as they are Mojito's and Mint Juleps aren't great wedding cocktails because everyone gets mint stuck in their teeth (Been there, seen it happen)

Any sort of "sour" (Whiskey is my favorite - a Campari sour is a bit exotic but quite tasty) tends to work well for large summer affairs - particularly if the sour mix is slightly sweet and mixes well early.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:14 AM on April 11, 2012

Also: what are the mixological rules, if any, with respect to pre-mixing alcohols?

The only important rule is to add water when you premix it, since you won't be getting it from the ice later. Around a quarter of your cocktail should be water.
posted by dfan at 11:16 AM on April 11, 2012

Also I have to toot my own horn and suggest a summery cocktail of my own invention, which even has a Metafilter connection because I named it the Special Snowflake: 2 oz gin, 1/2 oz Lillet or Cocchi Americano, 1/2 oz St Germain. It has been a hit with everyone who I've served it to.

Congrats on the upcoming nuptials!
posted by dfan at 11:22 AM on April 11, 2012

Consider a (good, alcoholic) punch. Punches are pre-mixed, pre-diluted, and served chilled. David Wondrich's book and Dan Searling's book have a bunch of recipes, some of which were published in reviews of the books.

A Pimm's Cup would be great, and has the advantages of punch.

I pre-mix a bottle of cocktail to take to parties or when I know I have a lot of guests.
When I go to a party, I generally mix and dilute (about 25% water) and chill in my fridge, then at the party, pour over ice. This is a venial sin, having a Manhattan with ice, but it guarantees that I have a decent drink.
At my own home, where I know we will have sufficent ice to chill and dilute cocktails, I batch the liquid ingredients into a bottle, then will pour 3oz from that bottle for each drink.

There is no problem with batching cocktails that include citrus juice. A batched cocktail is generally stable enough for a day or so without refrigeration.

French 75s are great for batching! champagne is festive and so much of the volume of that drink is champagne that only it need be chilled.
Also, the French 75 can be easily varied using different liqueurs in place of the gin and simple syrup. Actually, I like gin and Cointreau in a French 75. But gin and green Chartreuse (herbal), or yellow Chartreuse (honey and herbs), or Becherovka (honey and herbs), or Berenjager (honey).
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 11:39 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know this one! At last summer's barbecue I made pitchers of basil lemonade (+ vodka, but of course) and we had to make a beer run because my guests drank it ALL. It tasted like summer in a glass, skirted the issue of greens in your teeth, was fairly economical, and best of all, easy to make the syrup the day before and just mix the proportions the morning of and stick the pitchers in the fridge until the party (I'm sure you could find a classier decanting vessel if need be). If I recall we just served them with skinny wheels of lemon for a bit of fancyin' up.
posted by stellaluna at 12:24 PM on April 11, 2012

Punches are wonderful but pay attention to serving sizes (not sure how big a wedding you'll be having). Most of the punches in Wondrich's book are on the big and strong side. Make sure you have enough containers and fridge space to mix and store the punch. We like the Chatham Artillery Punch, Fish House Punch, and Regent's Punch.

Also, doing the oleo-saccharum with a large number of peels can be a bit difficult by hand. One way to save your poor arms is to divide it into batches and put it in a KitchenAid with the dough hook on. The KitchenAid will do all the muddling on your behalf.

Keep in mind many historical punches are strong and taste pleasant enough that your guests will over-imbibe. Examine the recipe carefully, and be careful of those that are all booze and contain caffeine (from the tea). And remind yourself to hyrdate.

Congratulations, and have a great time!
posted by kathryn at 12:29 PM on April 11, 2012

I say premix everything except: frozen items (including ice!), bubbly liquids, fresh greens, any fruit or rind that oxidizes, and anything that's only aromatic.

Don't forget you can infuse herb and fruit flavors into sweet drinks by infusing the syrup; that saves you the trouble, as mentioned above, of having basil chiffonade, or ginger rind, in your teeth.

That also goes for non-boozy drinks like ice-tea; I make my syrup with lemon and mint. Syrup dissolves in cold drinks. Sugar does not.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:07 PM on April 11, 2012

Here is a great article from serious eats on the math of how much water to add to premixed cocktails. I've personally premixed all but the bubbly, sans water, in a french 75 for parties and it's worked very well. Depending on your food/theme/whatever there are lots of southern punches that are tea and bourbon and peaches etc. that might be nice.
posted by itsonreserve at 1:22 PM on April 11, 2012

I was at a wedding that served two premade cocktails. Forgot option #2, but #1 was Manhattans in martini glasses adorned with chocolate-covered cherries.

That drink caught your eye! Colorful, festive, ritzy.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:49 PM on April 11, 2012

The family weddings I went to as a kid usually involved giant vats of my grandma's whiskey sour recipe. (Aaah....good times....it's ok. we're Polish.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:22 PM on April 11, 2012

Champagne cocktails can't really be premixed, but they can be prepped fairly easily in advance if you want a fast-moving bar line: sugarcube in glass, couple of dashes of Angostura, bubbly kept on ice to be poured on demand. Not much wastage, either.
posted by holgate at 3:31 PM on April 11, 2012

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