When you picture your Charleston wedding, you might envision moss-draped Live Oaks and wrought iron gates. Maybe you think of the sea breeze in your hair and sand between your toes on Charleston’s lovely beaches. Or perhaps the colorful facades of the old Rainbow Row homes are what come to mind. Whatever scenario plays out on your wedding day, we’re sure cocktails will be a part of it. The Holy City’s drinking culture stretches back to pre-Prohibition era, making a signature drink or two practically a necessity for Charleston couples.
Since the South has a rich history with spirited libations, choosing a signature drink for your Charleston wedding can seem a bit daunting. But you don’t have to start tossing ’em back at the local bar in search of the Holy Grail of wedding cocktails—though we certainly won’t stop you. To make your quest a bit easier, we tapped a few local master mixologists to come up with five stellar signature drink ideas for Charleston weddings.
Mulled Blackberry Cocktail
Beloved Lowcountry author Dorothea Benton Frank once said her fondest childhood memories of growing up on Sullivan’s Island were picking blackberries and chasing lightning bugs. How quintessentially Southern is that?! As such, we adore the idea of this signature drink by Squeeze OnSite that incorporates blackberry fruit, which grows wild throughout the Charleston area. “Fresh, local and simple, this cocktail will appeal to the masses and can be offered as a mocktail,” says Clint Gaskins, managing partner at Squeeze. In addition to fresh blackberries, this yummy concoction blends aromatic spices, lemon zest, honey, pomegranate juice, and lemon-honey vodka.
Charlestonians love them some mojitos, y’all! This version in particular, courtesy of MIX Premier Bartending, speaks to us because it is so decidedly Southern. According to MIX’s Craig Heichberger, the Lowcountry Mojito is “simple, refreshing and speaks to the Charleston area because of the origin of the liquor in it.” Which is what, you ask? Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, of course! The world’s first hand-crafted, sweet tea-flavored vodka, Firefly comes to life in a small still on Wadmalaw Island (about half an hour outside of Charleston city limits). The Lowcountry Mojito, which mixes Firefly with lemonade and fresh mint, is “served best in a mason jar, which goes great with many of the rustic ‘Southern charm’ venues we offer here,” suggests Heichberger.
If, when you think of the South, you think of men smoking cigars and sitting around a mahogany bar in a room filled with leather, duck decoys, and lots of plaid, the odds are favorable that those good ol’ boys are sipping on a classic cocktail known as the Old Fashioned. This drink pairs perfectly with a modern-vintage Charleston wedding (think Mad Men meets Steel Magnolias). So if you’re going for authentic Southern, consider making this bourbon-based cocktail your signature drink.
If you like the idea of something super-classic but packs a slightly less assertive punch, you can never wrong with a mint julep! Find a great recipe for that here.
Spiked Blueberry Mint Lemonade
Lemonade, like sweet tea, is another one of those inherently Southern beverages. For a fresh, fun twist on this Charleston classic, Boris Van Dyck—principal at Icebox Bar—recommends a signature wedding drink he calls Spiked Blueberry Mint Lemonade. Want to try it?
Blueberry Mint Simple Syrup Recipe
- 1 quart of fresh blueberries
- 12 oz. sugar
- 12 oz. water
- 4-6 large mint sprigs
Simmer the above ingredients on medium heat for 15 minutes. Muddle the blueberries and mint during the process, then pass the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and cool in the refrigerator.
Make the Cocktail:
- Now that you’ve got your blueberry mint simple syrup, make it into a “lemonade'” by mixing two parts lemon juice, one part blueberry mint simple syrup, and three parts water.
- Shake 1.5 oz of Striped Pig Vodka (distilled right in Charleston!) and 4 oz of the blueberry mint lemonade.
- Strain over ice in a rocks glass, and garnish with a lemon wheel and a blueberry skewer.
C’mon… wouldn’t this be absolutely perfect for a Lowcountry garden wedding?!
Who says ladies don’t drink beer? In Charleston, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a woman who doesn’t enjoy a nice cold brew from time to time. This is especially true in recent years, as Charleston’s craft beer scene has grown exponentially; the Holy City is experiencing a “brewvival,” if you will. So why not keep it simple and make your signature wedding drink a craft beer? We promise, your future husband will pledge his undying devotion to you. You get extra brownie points if said craft beer is actually brewed locally. Palmetto Brewing Pale Ale, Frothy Beard Peppermint Porter, Holy City Brewing Vienna Lager, Westbrook Brewing IPA, Freehouse Brewery IPA and Coast Brewing Hop Art IPA are all great local craft beer options.
The key is choosing something that captures your essence as a couple, something that shows off your unique personality. Look to your love story for inspiration. Did you have a cocktail on your first dinner date? What do you two drink when you’re chilling at a backyard BBQ? And just remember, your Charleston wedding caterer or bar service pro can be an invaluable resource when trying to nail down a signature drink for your Charleston wedding.
Featured Photo Credit || Cameron & Kelly Arizona Photographers