Perhaps some people think a signature cocktail is silly. “Why limit a guest’s choices?” is a common qualm, and the answer I often get when I suggest one. But as an event planner who plans parties all year long, I have an unwavering love for signature cocktails, and am convinced they are invaluable to the start of any party. We’re all familiar with being handed a glass of champagne as we enter a wedding reception. What could be better? Regardless of whether it is a large event with 400 guests, or a private dinner party in someone’s home, I always encourage clients to start their event by serving a signature cocktail — a drink offered as you enter a room is warm and welcoming, and a key to traffic flow and overall vibe. Here’s why:
Get the Party Started!
Many guests feel awkward as they walk into an event. They’re not sure of where to go, what the protocol is, or if they are properly attired. Once guests are handed a drink, they suddenly feel welcomed, at ease, and like they are part of the action.
Keep Traffic Moving
Where is the first place everyone wants to go? The bar. By offering a signature cocktail upon arrival, you’ll ensure that the bar doesn’t have an immediate log-jam around it. Guests mingle, chat with other guests, relax, and start to enjoy. When they are done with the signature drink, they can mosey up to the bar and order another without waiting in line. As an example, one of the best cocktail parties I planned for a client included 6 different signature drinks, all in mini bottles. There was a margarita, mojito, sake, vodka, a cosmopolitan, and a Manhattan. Each drink was paired with a different, and coordinated, passed hor d’oeuvre. The bar was empty! No need to stand and wait for a drink when something interesting was coming around and being handed right to you.
Present The Theme
Lots of events have themes. Themes make a fun statement and provide a thread of continuity throughout the night. A signature cocktail can be the beginning of the theme presentation. A great example is champagne, which connotes elegance and a special occasion. Sake is another fun drink to serve, which can start off an Asian theme or pair well if you are serving sushi. Recently, a wonderful wedding we planned had a New York theme. The bride had moved from Texas and we had the New York City skyline on the invitations. When guests arrived we presented them with a Manhattan! It was the perfect drink to start celebrating and put a smile on everyone’s face.
Represent the Hosts
At another recent client celebration, we passed two very different drinks to guests as they arrived. First, a selection of artisanal beers. The host was a devotee of small-batch beer and guests all grinned as we offered them a drink, which fit the host so perfectly. Second, we offered a BAI5 vodka martini. Every person knew that the hostess was a big BAI5 drinker and the cocktail was designed to represent her. She drank them all night!
Some events don’t have themes but have been decorated in complementary tones that make the event feel special. Offering a color coordinated drink start off the evening is a fun surprise. Is blue your color? How about a Blue Hawaiian? With the current mixology trends, the choices are limitless. Guests are usually intrigued and happy to receive it.
So the next time you want to host a get-together, consider a signature cocktail. It’s an individualized welcome mat that puts everyone at ease immediately and gives you time to be a guest at your own event.
Follow Andrea @nyluxevents