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Written by Harmony Walton, The Bridal Bar.

Have you ever heard the expression that a party is only as good as the band? Well, what about the bar?! Planning a wedding menu isn’t just about the entree or wedding cake anymore, but those ever-popular signature drinks and bar menu too! We chatted with corporate mixologist for Omni Hotels & Resorts, Kim Haasarud, of Liquid Architecture LLC, who gave us her expert ideas to make a splash with your signature wedding cocktails!

Champagne Signature Wedding CocktailPhoto Credit:

How creative should couples get when planning a signature wedding cocktail?

Go simple. The worst thing that could happen would be to over-complicate it and then the bartender doesn’t make it right and you end up with a drink that doesn’t taste that great. Simple is always best. You can have a simple drink and add a nice garnish to really elevate it – flower petal, orchid, etc. Fresh Origins is a company that has some amazing floral garnishes and will ship nationwide. Also, Dress the Drink is another great company that creates some beautiful garnishes as well. Custom sugar rims, candied flowers, honey beaded clusters, etc.

Does the signature drink need to go with the menu you’re serving?

Yes and no … A sour, like a whiskey sour, gimlet, Mojito, or Collins will pretty much go with anything. Sweet cocktails go well with spicy foods. Champagne cocktails are a great starter and go well with fish and lighter style foods like canapés, salad and even fried foods. Aged or brown spirits go well with grilled meats.

Signature Wedding DrinksPhoto Credit:

If you’re a beer drinker, how can you share your love of brew in a creative way at your wedding?

There are so many localized beer nowadays, definitely go with some local favorites. Or, if there is a particular place that holds special meaning for the bride and/or groom, you could get a beer from that region. I’ve seen some places have special taps for a bride and groom to choose their own tapped beer as a serve yourself.

There’s a huge craft cocktail movement at weddings; how do you suggest couples balance the creative offerings while keeping the lines and wait times for guests at a minimum?

Batch, batch, batch. Batch a cocktail ahead of time so that it’s an easy process and make for the bartender. For large weddings, I’m a fan of batching and putting it in a beverage dispenser with a hanging sign. So, it can be a serve yourself, or if the bartender is doing it, it’s a quick 5 seconds per drink vs 5 minutes.

Garnish Wedding CocktailsPhoto Credit:

What’s a great summer flavor (that might not be expected) that couples can weave into a menu and cocktail?

Maple syrup is a great sweetener alternative and it doesn’t necessarily take over the flavor in a drink but can add a layer of complex flavor. A maple whiskey sour is amazing! Or a maple margarita! Or Maple Mai Tai!

Even adding a couple of dashes of bitters can be a great flavor enhancer. There are so many bitters ranging from cherry to grapefruit to allspice to peach to orange!

Also, herbs – I’m a huge fan of adding herbs to a cocktail. It elevates it visually and aromatically. Mint, tarragon, sage, basil! Just give it a smack between the Palms of your hands to release some of the aromas first.

And finally, top tips for setting up your bar?

Lots of florals. And set up herbs in glasses of water so they don’t wilt. Be sure to chill the beer and wine ahead of time. For ice … If it’s a super hot day, calculate 5lbs per person. And go fresh!!!! Don’t skimp by buying a shelf-stable Margarita or sour mix.

Lime Wedding CocktailPhoto Credit:

Thanks so much Kim for sharing your refreshing wedding cocktail ideas with us! I’m off to whip up a craft cocktail complete with maple syrup and a beautiful herb garnish now!

harmony-waltonHarmony Walton is the founder of The Bridal Bar and host of Bridal Bar Radio on iHeartRadio. Harmony also expanded the brand into her passion of destination weddings with Jet Fete, a destination weddings and honeymoons blogsite dedicated exclusively to weddings abroad and romance travel. Her company has been recognized around the world as a trendsetter in weddings and featured in 100+ media outlets, including The Associated Press, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, and many more.