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A cocktail to capture the mood

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It’s something seen at weddings more and more frequently: a signature cocktail that makes a little statement about the two of you, or the day in general. Whether it’s served when guests arrive at the reception venue, or is the drink used for the first toast, a well-made cocktail brings an extra touch of stylish informality to the proceedings.

Before you even think about what sort of cocktail to serve, if you do, there are a few practical points to cover. First off, of course, is does the venue have the facilities needed to make the drink of your choice? If not, there is an option of mixing your own in advance – we’ve seen some very dinky miniature coke bottles and even tiny milk and preserve-type bottles used for this, serving as container and drinking vessel in one. Talk to the venue about your ideas, make sure the bartender or caterer is up to speed, that he or she will use the right glass, and don’t forget to ask about the cost! The other practicality is you should provide non-alcoholic versions for children, designated drivers and teetotallers so nobody gets left out.

Now comes the difficult bit. What do you want to serve? Maybe your focus will be to reflect the season, so say Strawberry Daiquiri for mid-summer; something with a blackberry or two for the autumn; Hot Buttered Rum in winter; or the inclusion of rhubarb-tinged vodka in spring?

Some couples offer his and hers cocktails, but considerate though that may be to guests, we think on the day you join together forever it’s right symbolise your union. You can go further along those lines too, by choosing something made with, for example, his favourite liqueur and your favourite Scotch; or if you are from different countries, an ingredient that represents your two homelands; or tipples that take your different hair colours and make a new one. A word of warning: it’s tempting to include a long list of liqueurs and syrups, but just like infant school paint pots, the more you mix the duller the result – keep it clean with a maximum of four elements.

Another way of hitting on a theme for your choice can be links to shared experiences or maybe a hint at where you met, though Sex on the Beach may raise a few eyebrows, and a Screaming Orgasm (vodka, coffee liqueur, amaretto and Bailey’s, plus milk, by the way) cause titters. There are loads of mixed drinks named for London, we know of the Dubliner too, and many other major cities and lots of countries are celebrated by their own cocktail.

A bit of additional creativity can make the drink even more representative of the day. For a small affair you could make name-tags for the glass; and instead of just any old straw, use one that matches your dress, or your bridesmaids’ dresses, or the colour palette for table decorations. And if you want to give a simple wedding favour, include a miniature version in the guest goodie bags.

This bit is one where the research can be thoroughly enjoyable, hitting a trendy bar to pick the brains of a mixologist and try a few examples, or doing experiments at home. If you don’t have a cocktail-making bible yet, we’d recommend Difford’s Guide, clearly written and with some nice background info too. But with that preparatory labour, and on the day, try not to overdo it.

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