How to Craft Your Own Signature Cocktail

From the first date to the first “I love you” shared as a couple, special moments and personal bonds provide clues to inspire signature cocktails for your wedding reception!

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In fact, when Chad Solomon, restaurant partner for Cuff & Buttons (a drink-catering service in New York City), receives a cocktail assignment he explores a couple’s background. “The first obvious question to ask is where they are from, and then I ask what they like to drink and their taste preferences,” says Solomon.

Having your own wedding cocktail is fashionable. Cocktails may honor the couple’s background, the wedding location, and the culinary preference in order to reflect trends in foods, spirits, and flavorings. Though developing a cocktail may seem intricate as if it should be left to the mixologist, creating cocktails can also be a fun and fascinating project for you and your partner!

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Solomon offers the following suggestions and tips as you start you research:

  • Draw up a list of drinks you both prefer.
  • Do you prefer sparkling or still drinks; lighter or stronger; clean or brown spirits?
  • Think of how you want to flavor a drink.  Research menus and food magazines to see what is current and popular.  The supreme ingredients on menus create the bar scene, too.

Although pomegranate juice replaced cranberry juice as the fruity mixer, Solomon says, “The real all-star ingredient in mint because of the mojito.  When you put mint in something, you know it’s going to go over well.”

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Just as chefs choose ingredients based around each season, gear your drink to the calendar! If you use fresh, not canned, fruit juices and garnishes not only will you save money using seasonal ingredients, but also you’ll have the most fresh-tasting cocktail. “Fresh, fresh, fresh in the drink! Don’t allow yourself to be talked into canned fruit products,” Solomon says.

For the fall, Solomon suggests a cocktail with apples or cranberries that is flavored with baking spices, such as nutmeg or cinnamon.

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Though Solomon enjoys researching old, often obscure cocktails, he found the perfect cocktail when he was hired to cater for an Atlanta wedding. “I pulled something our of a history book. It was a Georgia julep made with peach brandy, cognac, and crushed mint. One caveat is to strike a balance between the new and the acceptable,” he says. With all the exotic ingredients and historic references, you could get carried away with flavor combinations. Solomon cautions against going to too far with too much, “You want people to say, ‘I never thought about this,’ but don’t push outside your guests’ comfort zone.”

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The following books may inspire some cocktail innovation:

  • “The Bartender’s Black Book: Eighth Edition: 2,800 New and Classic Recipes” by Stephen Kittredge Cunningham (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2006).
  • “Caribbean Cocktails” by Jennifer Trainer Thompson (Ten Speed Press, 2003)

Editor’s choice:  St. Ginger Cocktail

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Created by Dan Guaydacan at Vita in Denver, CO. This is a light, refreshing cocktail that is perfect for a warm day called St. Ginger.

• 2 nickel-sized slices of fresh ginger

• 4 to 6 cilantro leaves

• Dash of fresh lime juice

• 1 1/2 ounces of preferred vodka

• 3/4 ounce St. Germain Elder Flower Liqueur

• Ginger Ale

• 1 lime wheel, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, muddle together the fresh ginger, cilantro, and lime juice. Add the vodka and St. Germain (available at many large liquor stores; find specific sites at Fill the shaker with ice, shake well, and then strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top off the glass with ginger ale and garnish with the lime wheel.