For the cocktail-minded, the wedding bar can be a conundrum. Unless the happy couple has rented out a venue with a real cocktail program and well-trained staff, you’re likely to end up with a roster of the most basic well spirits and a team that’s more used to prepping Screwdrivers than Sidecars.
But before you settle for beer or wine, we’d like to highlight eight of the more interesting, less obvious cocktails that you can likely procure at even the most Spartan of wedding bars (provided you’re willing to give some quick, on-the-spot instruction).
While compiling this list, we considered the following criteria:
- Nothing with ingredients you wouldn’t expect to find at the bar of a Country Club, Elks Lodge, or restaurant where Vodka Tonics are the norm.
- Nothing that calls for fruit juices, since you can’t count on them being available or fresh (skipping a Gimlet altogether is usually preferable to drinking a Gimlet made with Rose’s Lime Juice). That also knocks the Moscow Mule and Mojito out of contention.
- Nothing so complex that you’d have to leap behind the bar to take over, because being the guy who temporarily shut down service at Jill and Brian’s wedding to get his Ramos Gin Fizz is never a good look.
- You could probably get a Martini, Manhattan, Old-Fashioned, or Gin and Tonic, but we haven’t included them because you already knew that.
8 Drinks to Order at a Wedding
A Rob Roy is nothing more that a scotch Manhattan. This also makes it the easiest drink on the list to explain to the unfamiliar bartender. Plus, adding a little vermouth and bitters is a great way to drink whichever well scotch they have on hand (most likely J&B or Dewar’s).
A Pink Gin requires just two common ingredients: gin and Angostura Bitters. Simply ask the bartender to combine the two in a rocks glass, and throw in a handful of ice. You’ll be the classiest, most seafaring wedding guest around.
Most bars have Guinness. And most weddings call for some sort of sparkling wine. Ask a bartender to combine the two in equal parts, and you’ve got yourself a Black Velvet. Prepare for the “where did you get that?” questions to follow.
The Old Pal is itself a riff on the Boulevardier, which takes an additional step away from the Negroni template by subbing out sweet vermouth in favor of dry.
We’ll admit that the Sazerac is a little more of a reach. We don’t expect many wedding bars to have absinthe on call, but it’s possible that a dusty bottle of Pernod is on-site, and it will do the trick as a rinse. Just make sure they have Peychaud’s Bitters available before you ask for your first of many Sazeracs.
Three Wisemen is another easy-to-explain drink, made by mixing together Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, and Johnnie Walker Black or Red Label. It’s likely that any wedding bar should carry all three, but another blended scotch can easily slide into Johnnie Walker’s place if needed. One thing to note: the Three Wisemen is typically served as a shot, and… it’s potent. So, while it should be easy enough to obtain one at your next wedding, we can’t exactly endorse the order. But, hey, it’ll make you a better dancer.