I believe that every detail contributes to the magic of your celebration. Being purposeful with the details is how you can subconsciously create a cohesive wedding or event look while also creating an incredible guest experience. Because let’s be honest, no one cares how pretty a celebration is, if it isn’t a good experience. One often overlooked element that can elevate your celebration is the bar experience. As your virtual wedding & event advisor, I’m here to share some tips to ensure your bar not only meets but exceeds your guests’ expectations, creating memories that last a lifetime.
Selecting the Perfect Wines for Your Event
When it comes to wine selection, variety is key. Ensure you have a diverse range to cater to all tastes. Consider including:
You don’t need to go all out for your sparkling wine. A simple, budget friendly “brut” (which means dry, i.e. not sweet) will be perfect. If you plan on having a passed champagne toast, be sure to order enough sparkling for drinking AND for passing. Usually I advise clients to only fill their flutes half-way for a toast as many people won’t drink the full glass. For this, you can expect to need one bottle for every eight guests.
When it comes to white wine I recommend have two options, one light and one rich. A light wine would be something like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc while a rich would be like a Chardonnay. If you only have one white selection as a part of your bar package, opt for one of the lights. Chardonnay in particular can be a “love-it-or-hate-it” and you’ll want your wine selection to please the most people possible. If Chardonnay is your thing consider a unoaked Chardonnay or even a French Chardonnay (like Chablis) which will hit some of the notes of your favorite (green apple) without being the butter bomb that can be a turn off for some guests.
Similarly to white, we’re looking for two options here, a light/medium and a bold. Your light/mediums are your Pinot Noirs and Merlots while your bold is traditionally a Cabernet Sauvignon. However, the wine industry has seen a marked uptick in Malbec purchasing amongst millennial buyers. I’ve seen this similarly in weddings with Malbec often being the red wine of choice of many couples (and their guests). If you, too, love this varietal, it would be classified as a bold red. If you can only have one red, unlike with the whites, I’d recommend a bold. Many light/medium red wine drinkers are open to drinking a bold red (or a white), while most committed bold red drinkers won’t stray from their preferred varietals.
Pairing Wines with Your Menu
Elevate your guests dining experience by selecting wines that pair well with the menu.
Many people tend to follow the old rule of thumb, whites with white meat and reds with red meat. But for truly thoughtful combinations, Think beyond meats to focus on sauces and preparations. For example:
- Grilled meat pairs well with a bold red
- Chicken Parmigiana complements a medium red
- Mushroom Risotto shines with a rich white
- Spicy Tuna Steak is balanced with a light sweet white
Creating a Great Bar Experience
Bar Layout & Staffing
To keep the party spirits high, consider these tips:
- Aim for 1 bartender per 75 guests (I recommend even more – or at least an extra barback – for cocktail hour when the bar is the most in demand)
- Position the reception bar(s) close to the dance floor for a seamless flow, especially if dancing is important to you
- Elevate your bar into a statement piece with florals, rentals, and signage, creating a memorable “moment.”
Inclusive Non-Alcoholic Options
Don’t let anyone feel left out—ensure your bar menu extends a warm welcome to all.
Consider incorporating at least one craft mocktail into your bar offerings. This can be a non-alcoholic version of your signature cocktail or a selection of thoughtfully crafted mocktails by your bar team. For instance, at a recent event, we presented a non-alcoholic take on the classic French 75. Using Ritual Gin, a no-alcohol spirit, combined with club soda, a honey and thyme simple syrup, and a splash of lemon juice, we ensured that those choosing not to consume alcohol were not forgotten members of the celebration.
Including mocktails not only caters to the sober and sober curious but also adds a delightful option for designated drivers, pregnant guests, and anyone looking for a refreshing alternative.
Making the Most of Your Signature Cocktails
Using a Signature Cocktail for a Weekend Long Experience
Make your wedding weekend unforgettable by incorporating a signature cocktail. Share the recipe and ingredients through invitations or welcome bags. Consider these key moments:
- Welcome Drinks (first drink as guests arrive)
- Wedding Specialty Cocktail
- Brunch (offer a unique liquor drink)
Choosing the Perfect Specialty Cocktail
Crafting a signature cocktail requires careful consideration. Ensure it’s:
- Easily replicable with not too many ingredients
- Suited to the glassware you’ve selected (or that you’re willing to order the proper glassware)
- Personalized to reflect your taste and story
- Given a thoughtful and meaningful name
As you embark on this exciting journey, remember that every detail counts. Your wedding bar is an opportunity to create an immersive experience for you and your guests. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a celebration that reflects your unique style and leaves a lasting impression. Cheers to love, laughter, and a perfectly curated bar!