Recently I bartended a graduation party for some friends and I wanted to create some special cocktails for the event. I have very limited professional bartending experience (I’ve never bartended outside of my house or at parties). Here are some things I learned when you’re creating custom drinks for parties:
1. Keep the recipes simple (see below for the recipes I chose). If you have to explain the list of ingredients to people over and over, the line at the bar will back up. Occasionally Mrs. Simple Cocktails jumped in to help me, too, and I didn’t want to annoy her with complicated recipes. All four drinks I made only had 2 ingredients to pour together.
2. Lean towards sweet in your recipe ingredients. This was a summer party with a pretty even divide of men and women, and three of my four drinks were either fruity or sweet.
3. Garnishes are important. Nice-looking fruit or citrus really makes cocktails extra special. Also, pre-cut all of your garnishes.
4. Don’t get too creative. I named these drinks after professors at their school, which they loved, but the cocktails didn’t have any unusual or unfamiliar ingredients.
5. Watch the alcohol content. Try to keep the percent of alcohol down near wine or beer levels. That allows the guests to try multiple cocktails and enjoy their night without being three sheets to the wind.
Here are the recipes, pictured above from left to right:
This is a renamed Gentleman’s Club cocktail. I pre-mixed the liquor so I could make the cocktails quickly.
- in an empty liquor or wine bottle, mix 1 cup gin, 1 cup brandy, and 1 cup sweet vermouth
- pour 2 oz of the mixture in a cup full of ice
- top with soda water (about 1 oz)
- garnish with a cherry
Holcomb & Tonic
A simple vodka tonic.
- pour 1 1/2 oz of vodka (I used Smirnoff Blue Label) in a cup full of ice
- top with tonic water
- garnish with a lime slice
This was a favorite. This was a pre-mixed punch in a pitcher, ready to pour.
- in a pitcher full of ice, add:
- 1/2 jar (about 13 oz) of Ole Smoky Blackberry Moonshine
- 3/4 carton of Newman’s Own Organic Virgin Lemonade
- fill cups with ice and 3 fresh blackberries before pouring
The most popular by far, a very simple take on a Piña Colada.
- in a cup full of ice, add:
- 1 1/2 oz rum (I used Bacardi Gold)
- top with Trader Joe’s Tropical Carrot Juice
- garnish with an orange slice
Credit for both photos: Latisha Lyn Photography.