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Category : Cocktail Parties

Wedding beverages

By Nimble Bar Company

How to Wow Your Wedding Guests With Amazing Beverages

People drink more at weddings than at any other social occasion. But couples planning weddings rarely take the time to ensure their guests have an awesome experience with those wedding beverages. Often, couples merely opt for whatever their venue has in stock.

WHY YOUR WEDDING BEVERAGES MATTER

If you spend so much time and money meticulously planning out details like decor, cake, food, attire, and flowers, shouldn’t you put at least as much effort into the drinks you’re serving? After all, what do friends ask when they’re headed to a wedding? “Will there be an open bar?”

If you’re planning a wedding, here’s the question you can ask that will lead to an amazing beverage experience:

“Will the drinks we serve tell a story?”

After all, the wedding itself will tell a story about you as a couple (that’s one reason why people spend so much money planning the occasion). Every interaction your guests have with you, the other guests, and the environment of your event reflect back on you. The location, the clothing of the wedding party, the lighting, the textures and fabrics on the tables, the centerpieces, the decorations, and everything else color your story.

I know couples who spend hours and hours preparing centerpieces and tiny gifts to send home with their guests. But food and drink influence an experience far more than any gift. Meals engage all the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and even sound. How many of these couples focused as much on their drink menu as they do on their centerpieces?

The drinks tell a story about you, too. What do you want your drinks to say about you?

That you’re elegant?

Sophisticated?

Quirky?

Fresh?

You get the idea!

We recommend that, at minimum, weddings serve beer or cider, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. Beer or cider for those who don’t drink wine, wine to pair with the food and compliment the wedding’s formality, and any number of sodas, waters, and non-alcoholic ciders for those guests who don’t wish to imbibe. Once you cover these bases, step it up a notch with mixed drinks and cocktails.

BEER: THE FOUR CATEGORIES TO SERVE

Think for a moment about when you or your friends drink beer, and which beers pair with which occasions. What are some common characteristics about these moments? Slightly more on the casual side? How are people dressed? Probably not in formal wear. If you’re out at a pub or micro-brewery, you’re probably drinking something unique. If you’re playing pool in the garage, you’re probably drinking something cheap.

The beers you serve at your weddings will remind your guests of these times. And your guests will unconsciously associate the moods and memories of these events with you and your wedding. In other words, the beers you serve will add to your story.

If you serve mass-market lite beers, your guests will think about playing horseshoe in a backyard and watching a football game. If you serve something more exotic or local, they’ll think of a night out on the town or a more sophisticated culinary adventure. For weddings, we’d highly recommend choosing something specific and unique; avoid the cheap lite stuff. You want your guests to feel special and notice attention to detail.

Micro-brews

With the proliferation of the micro-brewery, there’s simply no reason to serve shitty, mass-produced beer. As much as possible, try to serve something local. Run the gamut of flavours and colours by selecting beers from these categories:

  1. Lager → Keep it simple and clean. Your guests will probably consume more lager than any other beer.
  2. Pale ale → A good amount of flavour without palate-shredding hoppiness.
  3. IPA (or lambic) → That said, many people love hoppiness, so keep an IPA on hand. Just as IPAs caught the market by storm in the late 00s, sours look like they’re going to be the beer-nerd’s next favourite thing. Consider adding a lambic (sour) beer to your arsenal, too.
  4. Dark → There’s always a surprisingly high demand for dark beer. When recommending a dark beer, we’ll make an exception to our ‘always choose local’ rule: choose Guinness. It’s the classic crowd-pleaser.

When you serve beer, consider cleanup and consider environmental impact. Always try to use cans over bottles; they’re almost always easier on the environment.

Another efficiency tip: keep the beer on ice in a giant cooler. Your guests can just grab from it and go. A self-serve cooler allows the bartender to focus on making cocktails and engaging guests in other ways.

WINE: HOW TO PAIR TO YOUR CUISINE

For better or worse, people perceive wine to be more sophisticated and cultured than beer. Since we’re talking weddings here and weddings are more formal than barbeques, serve your guests some wine. Your wines will tell your guests that you know how to class it up, and that you have great taste.

Don’t worry, though. You don’t need to choose wines that’ll break the bank. Research studies suggest that after a certain price point, there’s not really an increase in enjoyment of a wine. The bottle the wine is served from actually plays a huge role in the drinking experience. What does this mean? Don’t serve wine out of boxes, and stay away from notoriously cheap labels (unless that’s your comedy schtick). But you don’t need to go crazy with $40 bottles, either.

Choosing your wine is simple. Why? The food and the season will determine which grape varietal to use. Just pick labels you like that are appropriate for your food and season and are also within your price range.

Pairings

Here are some examples of classic dishes and their perfect wine pairings:

Safe Choice Adventurous Choice
Roast, Steaks, Game meat Syrah, Cab, Merlot Zinfandel, Sangiovese
Herbed Chicken, Pork Belly Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling Crisp dry Apple Cider
Sablefish, Ling Cod, Halibut Chardonnay Viognier, Albariño
Salmon, Roasted Vegetables Light Pinot Noir Heavy NZ Pinot Noir, Provence Rosé
Cheese Port, Sauternes California Chardonnay, Champagne
Fruits Shiraz, Grenache Gamay, Chenin Blanc
Shellfish Sauvignon Blanc Torrontes, Sancerre

 

Wine Tips

  • Big reds need to breathe; uncork 30-40 minutes before dinner service on the tables.
  • Offer red/whites that compliment/contrast the food depending on your menu
  • Port/Sauternes w/dessert & coffee is a lovely touch that doesn’t cost much if you already have servers/caterers

SPIRITS: CREATE A SPIRITED ADVENTURE

By now you’ve got the gist of how drinks tell a story. Their quality and selection reflect on your taste, sophistication, sense of fun, sense of humor, easy-going-ness, and any number of other qualities.

Your choice of spirits can truly give your guests unforgettable experiences. More guests drink beer and wine on a regular basis than drink spirits. At your wedding, you can offer them something special and, through simple displays and stories, enhance memories they’ll share for years to come.

When it comes to spirits, take your guests on a unique adventure through time and space. Serve spirits from different parts of the world with unique origin stories. Choose liquors from different ages, too. Your bartender or your display can share these unique stories. Such diversions give guests something to do when they aren’t dancing or eating, and give them something very special to remember.

When we offer spirits, we usually serve the following:

  • 4 whiskies — Japanese, American, Scotch, Canadian.
  • Calvados — The French apple brandy.
  • Mezcal — The far-smokier version of tequila from Oaxaca. Made from agave (the plant).
  • Genever — a matlier spirit and the ancestor of modern gin.
  • Sherry — the under-appreciated Spanish fortified wine.

Set up an entire table dedicated to this adventure of spirits. Include a large map of the world. Place the bottles on the map to show the spirits’ geographic origins.

COCKTAILS: WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS

With cocktails, you can really let your personalities shine. You can express yourself through ingredients, colours, garnishes, and names. You can pick names that reflect your sense of humor, your hope for the future, your memories of your guests, and your hopes for your marriage. Choose flavor profiles that run the gamut of tastes, and tell stories with your cocktail menu.

For example, I’m an eternal optimist. So I made the ‘Faulty Optimist’ cocktail and garnished it with this cartoon, printed on edible paper, from Cyanide and Happiness.

Executing Your Cocktails: How to Make Them Efficiently, with Style

This step, like choosing a wine varietal, can be simple. To ensure a great experience, you MUST vet quality bartenders to find someone who can deliver drinks with excellence and panache.

Go to your favourite cocktail bars in town and note your favourite bartenders. Once you’ve created a short-list your three favourites, reach out to them at their bar and offer them the gig.

Because you’re offering an elevated experience to your guests, think of this bartender as more of a consultant than a mere drink-slinger. Bartenders have evolved a great deal from the 70s, 80s, and 90s — they have become true professionals. They’re going to work with you to make sure your drinks are delicious and reflect your personalities.

Your bartender should help you craft a balanced menu and should also be able to help you to name your drinks, source ingredients, and prepare for the night.

Non-Alcoholic Options: A Little Temperance Goes a Long Way

When we make non-alcoholic cocktails, we’re trying to emulate the complexity inherent in spirits. There are a number of ways to do this.

First, consider your soda. 2 liter bottles of Coca-Cola and Sprite are unacceptable. Always try to use artisanal soda pops such as Fentiman’s and New Theatre.

You’ll use syrups that feature fresh ingredients, of course, but don’t forget about shrubs and vinegars. For example, experiment with fruit-flavoured vinegars like pomegranate and grapefruit balsamic, and try cilantro shrubs.

And don’t forget about sparkling and still waters to cover all your bases.

Bringing It All Together: Designing a Sexy Menu

Once you’ve decided on your cocktails, spirits, beer, and wine, it’s time for the funnest part of all — building the menu! Your drink menu gives you the opportunity to create something highly visual that literally tells stories through text. The colors you use, the names you choose for your drinks, and the descriptions you provide all reflect on you. And they give your introverted guests something to read.

While designing a menu may feel overwhelming to some, (I know others of you can’t wait to jump into this) it doesn’t have to. If you’re having trouble creating unique descriptions, use standard text from online searches. Or enlist the help of a clever friend.

No design skills? No problem! Check out www.getstencil.com. The site has tons of free and beautiful templates that you can use to easily make your menus.

Alternatively, if you’d like to leave the menu design to a pro, Fiverr.com is chalk full of them.

Conclusion: You Can Do This

(Or We Can Do It For You)

Hopefully, you’ve now got a good understanding of not only why drinks matter but also how you can create an awesome beverage experience. We’ve got a number of other guides that might help you further in our blog.

If you’d like some one-on-one planning help, additional guidance, or someone to simply take care of things for you, we can help with that, too.


gatsby

By Nimble Bar Company

How to throw an UNFORGETTABLE party

At the Nimble Bar Co., we’ve perfected the art of throwing the unforgettable party. We’ve got some key steps and recommendations you can follow to do the same. Download our 

free PDF guide

for your own files, or read on here!

STEP 1: DEFINE YOUR VISION

Have you ever been to a wedding where the bartenders acted like robots? How about a staff party where you had to make your own drinks from a limited selection? Or what about the all-too-common house party where there’s nothing but one kind of beer?

While you may say to yourself, “I’m happy so long as there’s booze,” the fact of the matter is, if your party has any of the above problems, you are missing a HUGE opportunity.

Imagine the IMPACT you’d have if your guests said things like this the next day:

  • “Best party I’ve been to. EVER.”
  • “Man, thank you so much for that. That was a whole new experience.”
  • “That was amazing. Are you a professional party-thrower, or something?”
  • “You sure know how to sweat the details — awesome party!”

Imagine a party where every little detail is elevated to the level of fine art, but you just had to follow a few simple steps.

Have you ever been to a cocktail bar that was considered one of the best in the world? If so, you’ll know that those kinds of establishments create memories you don’t quickly forget. And you usually want to go back.

Well that’s our mission with this guide: to show you how to emulate the vibe of some of the best cocktail bars in the world. That’s right, your event can leave guests with a similar experience, and you don’t have to make it complicated.

But why should you listen to us, the Nimble Bar Co.? We’re a group world class cocktail experts and bartenders who have thrown hundreds of parties. We’ve thrown parties ranging from small household dinner parties, to parties with over 300 people in attendance. We’ve hosted parties that flopped and parties that have garnered raving fans. Through it all, we’ve honed our expertise and learned how to through unforgettable, amazing parties each and every time.

We now specialize in one very specific party because we’ve noticed it gets the best results, bar-none (see what I did there?).

That party is the cocktail party.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, “Why does my party have to be ‘amazing’? Why can’t it just be good enough?”

Well, let’s talk a bit about the game of life AND business:

Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP, the bible of modern accounting) defines an asset called ‘goodwill.’ Goodwill is made up of the following components:

  1. A company’s brand
  2. Strong customer base
  3. Solid customer relations
  4. Employee relations

Even if you’re an individual, you still have an asset called goodwill. For an INDIVIDUAL, the equivalent of goodwill would be:

  1. Your reputation
  2. The degree to which people trust you as a resource
  3. The quality of your relationships
  4. Having a staff of your own so you can perform optimally

Although goodwill is intangible, it is nonetheless an asset — possibly the most powerful asset you have. Think about it, the more goodwill you have, the easier it is for you to get the things you need and want. Since we’ve established that goodwill is EXTREMELY important, let’s talk about how you can rapidly build it.

It’s really simple: Throw an amazing party. Better yet, throw amazing parties on a regular basis.

YOU CAN DO THIS.

If you’ve read The Great Gatsby, you’ll know what was so ‘great’ about Gatsby. You don’t need to throw parties nearly as illustrious as he did, you just need to throw parties that are well organized. A well organized party shows people you care.

STEP 2: WHAT YOU’LL NEED

All of the tools you’ll need

We’ve provided links to our favourite brands:

A note on citrus…

While we recommend juicing your citrus fresh for each drink, sometimes it isn’t practical when we’re trying to serve a lot of guests. We’ve had great results using Santa Cruz’s organic pure lemon juice and Lakewood’s organic pure lime juice

Cocktails that are guaranteed crowd-pleasers

We recommend you make up your menu of 3 x Easy, 2 x Medium, and 1 x Nerd-rated cocktails.

Easy = Easy to make and easy to drink.

Medium = Medium difficulty level of mixing, and takes a bit more of a refined palate.

Nerd = Either difficult to make or has flavour characteristics that appeal to a very developed palate.

The links provided will take you to the BEST instructional videos we’ve found on the Internet.

Cocktail Difficulty
Daiquiri Easy
Dark & Stormy Easy
French 75 Easy
Gimlet Easy
Moscow Mule Easy
White Lady Easy
Aperol Spritz Medium
Aviation Medium
Bramble Medium
Caipirinha Medium
Classic Martini Medium
Corpse Reviver #2 Medium
Derby Medium
Manhattan Medium
Margarita Medium
Mint Julep Medium
Old Fashioned Medium
Whisky Sour Medium
Mezcal Old Fashioned Nerd
Negroni  Nerd
Sazerac  Nerd
Singapore Sling  Nerd

STEP 3: PRO TIPS

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

If you’re going to outsource the drink mixing, make sure you get a seasoned pro. Get someone who’ll dazzle you and your guests with their skills, service, and attitude.

You probably already have a favorite bartender in your town. Ask them if they’re up for working a private party. Not only will they appreciate the offer for additional income, but they’ll also be flattered. And bartenders love to get out from behind their everyday bar to bring themselves and their craft to new networks.

If you don’t yet have a favourite bartender, go around town and create a shortlist of your top three. Then simply ask for their contact information across the bar.

CHANGE UP THE LIGHTING

Lighting is crucial, and many party planners fail to consider it. Over the course of your event, change the lighting AT LEAST once. Start with some lights on and some candles, and then turn off the lights and light more candles. This will change people’s mood and boost the energy in the room. We’ve elaborated on this in Step 5 below.

RENT GLASSWARE

Rather than using your own glassware, we recommend you go to a local restaurant supply store and rent. The uniformity will take your event to the next level. A big bonus: many of these businesses will wash the glasses for you. That makes cleanup much easier.

PREPARE YOUR GARNISH STATION IN ADVANCE

If you’re the master mixer, prepare your garnishes in advance. Your party will be busy, and you can save yourself a headache if you streamline your service with premade garnishes.

The garnishes you prepare will depend on the cocktails you choose to have on your menu. It makes sense to always have a bowl of lime wedges for highballs. Other than that, make sure you have a bowl for each garnish your menu requires.

For instance, if the Old Fashioned is on your menu, make sure you have a bowl of orange zest swathes ready to go. If you have the Aviation, make sure you have a bowl of fresh picked or maraschino cherries. Or better yet, make your own.

STEP 4: THINGS TO AVOID/COMMON MISTAKES

WET ICE

You don’t need to have ice from a Kold Draft or Hoshizaki machine, but you do need to have ice that is CLEAN and DRY. Make sure that you’re not using ice that’s been sitting in your freezer for months. Ice often picks up flavours of nearby objects, so be careful.

If you’re using ice that’s even slightly diluted, you and your guests will be drinking a lot of watery drinks. No bueno.

If you live in a major city, you can usually find businesses that just sell ice. That means you can get anything from an ice block that you could pick at to king cubes or crushed ice.

Our recommended forms of ice:

1 x 1 cubes —> Use these for basic mixing. This is the ice you’d be able to get straight from an establishment with a Hoshizaki or Kold Draft machine

King cubes —> Use these for drinks like the Old Fashioned. The larger cubes means less surface area and so the ice melts slower — stiff drinks are to be sipped slowly, and slow-melting ice will keep them cold but strong.

Crushed ice —> Have gas-station ice on hand with a lewis bag and mallet. You’ll dazzle your guests when you go to crush ice for that Mint Julep.

CRAPPY SODAS

You want to dazzle your guests with your attention to detail. This means you’re going to have to go beyond the 2 litre bottles of Coke and Diet Coke as your mixers. We recommend you use a Sodastream for your soda, and boutique brands for other mixers such as Fentiman’s and Fever-Tree’s Tonic Water and Fentimans Ginger Beer.

Fever Tree puts it very well on their website: “If 3/4 of your drink is going to be a mixer, make sure it’s the best.”

CRAPPY, RANDOM MUSIC

Music is a crucially important part of your event, yet it’s often treated as an afterthought. Make sure you’re matching the tempo of the music to the stage of the night. For example, don’t play disco as people are just arriving. That leads us to Step 5.

STEP 5: GUIDE THE ENERGY, SET THE VIBE

Great bars have an inherent musicality. Bartenders communicating with each other, the clinking of bottles, pouring liquid, and shaking cocktails. These are all part of the vibe, and the music we choose works in tandem with these ‘instruments’. It’s one of the most beautiful aspects of the bar and at our parties we like to emulate this as much as possible.

Generally speaking, there are 3 stages to every party and every night. You can guide your party through these stages with the right lighting and music choices. Here’s how you do it.

Stage 1: The Quiet Cocktail Bar

Have you ever been to a great cocktail bar that was totally empty, but you actually loved that it was empty? Chances are it’s due to a mix of great lighting and great music choice. For the first stage, we recommend that you try and emulate this ‘classy cocktail bar’ feel.

Here are some Spotify playlists that work perfectly for this time of night:

Stage 2: The Ramp-Up

This is where there are a few people in the room and they’re all starting to get comfortable. They’ve had a drink or two, and conversation is flowing pretty well. We want to ramp-up their state by changing the music a bit and turning down the lights.

On Spotify, these are the playlists that work well for this stage:

Stage 3: The Overwhelm & Escalate

Once again, we’re going to dim the lights. Now your venue should be lit by nothing but candles. We want to now be playing music that is very high energy. You will feel the best moment to make this transition — the room will be fairly full and people’s energy will naturally be escalating. HOWEVER, if this is an intimate party, you may want to hang out around Stage 2. Simply change the lighting to Stage 3 but keep the music the same.

On Spotify, here are the playlists that work best for Stage 3:

Always be mindful of the music’s volume. Guests should always hear the music, but it shouldn’t be so loud that guests have to strain their voices to have a conversation.

Of course, you could always consider hiring a DJ to take care of the music for you. That’s a power-move, for sure.

IN CONCLUSION

You’re probably thinking, “Wow. Do I have to do all that to throw an amazing party?” Don’t worry; it’s simpler than you think. It also gets easier with practice. If our recommendations feel overwhelming, try starting with just a few and add more the next time. Before you know it, you’ll be a master.

Hosting well and mixing well can benefit your life in huge ways. It shows the people around you that you care. It makes your events sought-after and more exclusive. Not to mention, the added networking benefits will make you more money.

If you need help, or if you want to outsource your party to some experts, we’d love to help. Don’t forget to download our free PDF guide

for your reference or Get in touch with us here. We’ll organize your awesome party and teach you how to do it in the future.


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Wedding beverages
How to Wow Your Wedding Guests With Amazing Beverages
gatsby
How to throw an UNFORGETTABLE party