Weddings and alcohol go together pretty seamlessly. While having a bar at your wedding reception isn’t a requirement, a little libation can certainly liven up the party and give your guests the liquid courage to hit the dance floor. And the best part? You can achieve an awesome array of booze without shelling out major cash on an full-liquor open bar. The key is a signature cocktail.
A signature wedding cocktail is a fun way for couples to add a personal touch to their receptions—and save a bit of money. Many couples opt for the economical alcohol route and skip a full bar in lieu of beer, wine, and 1-2 signature cocktails. In fact, 85% of couples plan to create and serve signature cocktails at their receptions.
Signature wedding cocktails also take some heat off of the bar and waitstaff because they can be premade in batches, which will also cut down on long bar lines. Convinced? Zola teamed up with Diageo to determine the Most Popular Wedding Cocktail of 2019—and we learned a lot. Read on for signature cocktail recipes, ideas, and inspiration to create tasty drinks unique to you.
Photo Credit || Vivian Chen Photography
How to Make a Signature Cocktail
Represent Your Personalities
Your wedding is an expression of you and your partner as a couple, so you want to nod to that in your drinks. Your cocktails could harken back to a fun memory or your first date. Signature cocktails typically include your go-to alcohol, too.
According to responses from our Most Popular Wedding Cocktail survey, the top wedding liquors are:
- Bourbon—shout out southern couples!
Don’t fret if you and your spouse have opposing alcohol preferences. Just serve two signature cocktails! This option allows you to show off your individual personalities and double up on the drink options.
Make It Colorful
Your signature wedding cocktail gives you the chance to add an unexpected pop of color to your reception space. So when you’re exploring ideas for your personalized beverage(s), we recommend going for a vibrant cocktail that compliments your wedding’s color palette and adds to the overall impact of the reception décor.
Additionally, choose signature cocktails that vibe with your wedding’s theme. If you’re having a classic soirée, try a champagne cocktail. For a barn wedding, consider spiked lemonade served in mason jars. Celebrating by the beach? Opt for something fruity and tropical.
Photo Credit || Aaron Waston Photography
Keep It Local
Think about the state, city, or region where you’re saying “I do” and let your signature wedding drink nod to the local culture. For example, a New Orleans wedding begs for a hurricane, a Cape Cod wedding needs a cape codder, and what’s a Southern wedding without mint juleps? Think about what liquors, spirits, and flavors are local to the area and let your booze-infused imagination run wild.
Once you figure out the local flavors you want to incorporate, check the area for breweries, wineries, or distilleries. Use locally-sourced alcohols for a highly local touch. These alcohol vendors may also offer discounts for keeping it close to home.
Test It Out
Once you have decided on the style of drink you want to include at your reception, don’t forget to give it a test run. Nobody wants a jug of bitter jungle juice served on their big day.
Ahead of your wedding, invite friends over to make and taste your signature drink to ensure the ingredients come together as you expect. (We can be there in 10.)
Photo Credit || Grant & Deb Photographers
If you really want a signature cocktail but are having bartender’s block, take a cue from others. According to our survey, two cocktails, in particular, stood out as the Most Popular Cocktails of 2019. Here are our top signature cocktail recipes (remember these are batch cocktails so work with your bartender to come up with the exact proportions for your party size).
TIP: Try them out first or give the gift of good drinks to your guests or wedding party with our Zola x Cocktail Courier mini cocktail kits. There's one for each of our top signature wedding cocktails below: The Zola Paloma and the Botanical Spritz.
Top Wedding Cocktails of 2019
The Zola Paloma
- Don Julio Tequila
- Grapefruit oda
- Grapefruit garnish
- Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit & Rose
- Club soda
- Rose buds
- Grapefruit garnish
No matter what you choose to create, keep it simple. Your signature cocktail should be a sweet (or sour or bitter or fruity) representation of you and your SO on your special day.