Whether you’re opening your own restaurant, planning a wedding, or hosting the “best party ever,” you may have heard that serving a signature cocktail is a great way to impress your guests. After all, who doesn’t like being served a delicious beverage with a healthy dose of alcohol in it, especially at an event where you might have to feign interest in someone’s long-winded story, make a speech, or get crazy on the dance floor?
While adding a tasty and interesting drink to the itinerary is always a fantastic idea (unless you live in a dry town), how do you find your signature cocktail? If you’ve been to plenty of bars, or worked in the hospitality industry, then you know there are countless drinks from which to choose. In fact, due to the increasing popularity of cocktails right now, there are new drink recipes being created all the time.
So, does this mean you should just open a cocktail book to a random page and choose the first recipe you see? Or, just tell everyone to bring their own booze? You could. Or, you could do a little research and pick an awesome signature cocktail that you and everyone will love.
Defining a Signature Cocktail
Typically, a signature cocktail is a drink that an establishment or person chooses to serve because it looks or tastes a certain way. It’s supposed to be special, and sometimes it’s selected because of what it represents or what it’s made with.
For example, one of the signature drinks of Brazil is the Caipirinha, because it is made with the Brazilian liquor Cachaca and has become a symbol of that nation’s culture. It doesn’t hurt that the drink is also delicious and extremely refreshing. Irish coffee is another well-known signature drink that was created in Ireland, and is made with Irish whisky and cream.
A signature drink doesn’t have to represent a country, though. For example, a pub may invent a drink that is served with liquor that’s made nearby. Or, an establishment might select several signature cocktails that it believes embody its theme. For example, a modern lounge might offer several different types of martinis. A pub that’s more classic looking might specialize in serving older cocktails like an Old Fashioned. Yes, it might also show “Mad Men” every week.
Determine the Occasion
If you’re planning to serve a signature cocktail at a specific event then it’s a good idea to consider the occasion, who is attending, and what kind of mood you want. Signature drinks are usually served to everyone at events, so picking the right one is important.
For example, if you don’t have a lot of experienced drinkers attending, then you might want to stay away from really strong drinks that don’t have a lot of mix. If you want everyone to be tanked an hour or two in, well then, that’s different. Chances are that you will also be serving other booze at the event, so, it’s better to err on the side of caution and serve something everyone enjoys drinking down. If the hardcore partiers want something with more of a kick, they can always head to the bar.
If the event is going to be outside, or is taking place during the summer, then you might want to go with a cocktail that’s refreshing and comes with a lot of juice or mix. If it’s in the winter, or taking place at a mountain resort, then a signature drink that has coffee or hot chocolate will probably go over well.
Just as restaurants select certain types of cocktails for a reason, if your event has a certain theme, then pick a drink that goes with it. If your wedding is taking place in Hawaii or that’s where you’re headed for your honeymoon, then you might want to serve a Mai Tai or Blue Hawaiian.
Make It Mean Something
While it’s nice to consider what your friends or relatives might like, if the event is for you, then you should choose a drink you’ll actually enjoy. If you and your spouse have been known to have inhaled your fair share of Manhattans over the years, then your friends will appreciate why it’s the signature beverage. Or, if you and your significant other met while enjoying piña coladas one night, then serving them at your wedding or anniversary will be a great way of honoring that special evening.
Decide on a Color or Look
Yes, believe it or not, you might want to consider what a cocktail looks like before you pick it as your signature drink. If you go to a lot of trouble decorating for your event, then you might want to select a cocktail that matches the color scheme. Or, you might want to pick a drink that just looks really cool and will “wow” your guests.
You should also consider if the drink is normally served in an elaborate glass or with a ton of fruit or decorations. While it may look really funky and seem like a good idea, an elaborate cocktail could end up being more fuss than it’s worth. Oh, and if it’s supposed to be served while lit on fire, choose a different cocktail.