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Gin has long been one of a caterer's favorite spirits. Although vodka is synonymous with being an incredibly clean spirit that easily takes on the flavor of whatever you're pairing it with, gin has the honor of being more complex. It's important to remember that not all gins are the same. Depending on the distillation process, the flavor profile can range from earthy and woodsy to bright and citrusy to floral and botanical. This makes it an ideal choice for creating memorable signature cocktails. For example, gin botanicals can include juniper, citrus peel and mulling spices, making it a cold-weather wonder. We talked to some of New York City's best caterers to get tips on creating your own signature cocktail and recipes perfect for your winter wedding reception.
From the Experts
According to YumYum Caterers, the first thing you should do is consider your surroundings. For a Hudson Valley wedding, a cocktail made with locally sourced cider is perfect. Next, think about going big. Batch cocktails also help reduce prep time and get your guests sipping sooner rather than later. Since the glassware you use sets the stage for your custom drink, make sure you choose the one that works best with your wedding style. And think outside of the traditional bar experience: consider a hot toddy bar, a drink popsicle or making a Negroni Jell-o shot served in a lemon wedge. Finally, Olivier Cheng Caterers believes in making your signature cocktail a visual experience too, using Crucial Detail's Porthole Infuser as a stunning and modern way to show off the ingredients.
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Gin pairs extremely well with smoky flavors. Try serving it with smoked cheese and fig jam on fennel toasts or black bread topped with chèvre and smoked bacon.
Makes 2 servings
- 3 oz. gin
- 1 oz. aperol
- 4 oz. fresh orange juice
- 1 splash cardamom bitters
- 1 oz. cinnamon simple syrup*
- 2 oz. Dr. Brown's Cream Soda
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 orange twists
Place gin, aperol, orange juice, bitters, and simple syrup over ice in a shaker, and shake well before filling two rocks glasses with ice. Strain the mixture into glasses and top each with ½ of the cream soda and stir with a cinnamon stick, leaving it in the glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Cinnamon simple syrup
- 5 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 6 cinnamon sticks, broken into large pieces
Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, until sugar has dissolved, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard cinnamon sticks, strain into a clean glass jar and cover. Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. (Recipe note: We usually make this by "eye," so the measurements are not exact and should be adjusted to taste.)
Courtesy of Laurence Craig Catering
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For the cold-weather wedding season, Beverage Innovation Director Luis Antonio Thompson of Great Performances Catering likes to mix gin with heavier, darker spices and ingredients like cinnamon, star anise, and maple syrup. The drink ncorporates flavors more in-line with bourbon or whiskey. This cocktail is the perfect expression of the season.
Slow and Steady
- 1 ½ oz gin
- ¾ oz molasses
- ½ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- fresh orange peel
In a shaker, combine all liquid ingredients and shake vigorously for approximately 15 seconds. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass before garnishing with orange peel.
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Lemon & Herbal
Fresh and vibrant, we love BITE New York's idea of combining gin with lemon, rosemary and prosecco for a refreshing and sparkling cocktail.
- 1 ½ oz. rosemary-infused plymouth gin*
- 1 ½ oz. Lillet-poached Anjou pear puree*
- ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ oz. Champagne or prosecco
Shake the gin, puree and lemon juice together. Strain into a highball or flute glass, and top with chilled champagne or prosecco. It can be served with ice (highball) or without (flute).
*Rosemary Flash Infusion
Rosemary can be intense. It also turns brown in alcohol. The solution is to "flash infuse" by blending the gin with rosemary petals and a small amount of ascorbic acid (easy to order, nearly flavorless and prevents the browning process of things like apples and - in this case - rosemary).
Poached Pear Puree
NEED INGREDIENT LIST
Peel the ripe pears, half them and poach them in a simmering liquid of lillet blanc, honey, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, clove, red chili flake and orange peel. When they're tender, fish out the pears and strain the liquid. Blend the pear and some of the reserved liquid together until smooth.
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Tart and flavorful, cranberry always seems to evoke cool-weather meals. (Maybe it's the traditional Thanksgiving cranberry sauce?) We love Sonnier & Castle's take on the classic Collins cocktail.
- 5 oz. gin
- 5 oz. cranberry juice
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice (1/2 oz. if using commercial)
- 3 oz. club soda
- Lime, for garnish
Add gin, cranberry juice, and lime juice to a Collins glass with ice. Stir in club soda. Garnish with lime.
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As with the traditional Pimm's Cup, the garnish should serve multiple purposes, says Olivier Cheng Catering Beverage Director Troy Sidle believes . "Ideally, a garnish should not only function as a visual component, but also provide a sense of ephemerality and brightness applied just as the drink is being served," he says.
- 1 piece orange half wheel
- 1 piece lemon half wheel
- 1 piece plum
- 1 piece pear
- 1 ½ oz. Pimm's No. 1
- ½ oz. Tanqueray Gin
- .7 oz. lemon juice
- .7 oz. simple syrup
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- Soda water
- Lemon and orange peel
Muddle fruit to express all the juices and oils. Add remaining ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Strain over new ice in a tall glass. Garnish with a lemon and orange peel.
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Rich and robust, concord grapes are an unexpected cocktail ingredient and pair nicely with lime and ginger. We love this fresh recipe from BITE New York.
The Blush Crush
- 6 concord grapes
- 2 shiso leaves*
- 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz. ginger honey syrup
- 2 oz. Dorothy Parker or Letherbee Autumnal gin
- 1 oz. club soda
Muddle the grapes and torn shiso leaves in a mixing glass with the lime juice and syrup before adding the gin.
* If you or your caterer can't find shiso leaves, substitute mint or Thai basil.
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The earthy, fragrant herb that's been popping up all over the culinary world, lavender is ready for its drink moment. This cocktail from Canard Catering is gentle yet flavorful.
- 2 oz. gin
- ¾ oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ oz. honey
- 3 drops of lavender bitters
Shake ingredients and strain into an old fashion coupe. Garnish with lemon twist or a sprig of lavender.
Or try this great infusion:
Add lavender to Tanqueray 10 Gin and let steep for about an hour before straining and pouring it into a labeled bottle. Add 1oz into a flute and top with champagne for the perfect wedding cocktail.
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There's a flavor resurgence happening, as drinking vinegars are gaining popularity for their rich flavor. Sonnier & Castle's Apple Gin Rickey was their most popular cocktail this past year.
Apple Gin Rickey
- 5 oz. gin
- 5 oz. apple drinking vinegar
- 4 oz. club soda
- Garnishes: lemon and brandied cherry
Mix gin and vinegar in a double rocks glass over ice. Add club soda. Garnish with lemon and brandied cherry.