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How to Craft Your Own Cocktail

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Where you met, your quirky likes and dislikes, the little secrets you share all are part of the love you share when you say, “I do.”

And those personal bonds provide clues to inspire a signature cocktail for your wedding reception.

In fact, when Chad Solomon takes a cocktail assignment, he delves into a couple’s background.

“The obvious first question is where they’re from; then I ask about what they like to drink and their taste preferences,” says Solomon, who is a partner in Cuff & Buttons, a drink-catering service in New York City.

Having your own wedding cocktail is very fashionable.

Cocktails may honor the couple’s background, the wedding location or even a culinary preference. Drinks also reflect trends in foods, spirits and flavorings.

However, developing a cocktail doesn’t have to be left to the spirits professionals; it’s a fun and fascinating project for you and your partner.

Solomon offers the following suggestions and tips as you start your research.

  • Draw up a list of drinks you both prefer.
  • Do you like sparkling or still drinks; lighter or stronger; clear or brown spirits?
  • Next, think of how you want to flavor a drink. Look at restaurant menus or food magazines to see what’s current. The celebrity ingredients on menus make the bar scene too.

Although pomegranate juice replaced cranberry juice as the fruity mixer, mint is the really hot accessory.

“The real all-star ingredient is mint because of the mojito,” says Solomon. “You put mint in something and it’s going to go over well.”

Think as chefs do and gear your drink to the calendar. You’ll save money using seasonal ingredients, and you’ll have a better-tasting cocktail if you use fresh, not canned, fruit juices and garnishes, something Solomon is adamant about.

“Fresh, fresh, fresh in the drink. Don’t allow yourself to be talked into canned fruit products,” he says.

For the fall, Solomon suggests a drink with apples or cranberries, flavored with baking spices.

Your wedding destination also may inspire a drink. Again, the location provides an opportunity to use ingredients that are readily available.

The Caribbean says guava, pineapple and mango. The Pacific Northwest may trigger a thirst for apples or pears in the fall and cherries in the summer.

Solomon, who enjoys researching old, often obscure cocktails, found the perfect drink when hired to cater cocktails for an Atlanta wedding.

“I pulled something out of a history book. It was a Georgia julep made with [non-sweet] peach brandy, Cognac and crushed mint,” he says.

One caveat is to strike a balance between the new and the acceptable, says Solomon.

With all the exotic ingredients and historic references you could get carried away with flavor combinations. Solomon cautions against going too far.

“You want people to say, I never thought about this, but don’t push outside your guests’ comfort zone,” he says.

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