The weather outside may be frightful, but inside, your wedding reception will be merry and bright. Winter may not be the most popular time to get married, but there is something truly magical about getting married during the chilliest time of the year.
Winter weddings provide unique opportunities to showcase flowers, drinks, and decor specific to the season, providing a bit of a departure from your typical wedding. Your best bet is to take advantage of everything winter has to offer, highlighting all of the best parts of the frosty season.
Keeping that in mind, we spoke to five top New York City mixologists to get their tips on incorporating a wonderful winter cocktail into the mix. From seasonal ingredients to how to serve, these suggestions will put all your guests in the best of spirits.
Keep It Spicy
Cinnamon sticks, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, and other warming spices are winter essentials in everything from cookies to pie. They instantly inspire cozy moments and add unusual flavors to cocktails and other drinks. Chaim Dauermann, head bartender at Up & Up Bar recommends infusing spices directly into the spirit of your choice. At Mother of Pearl, located in the Lower East Side, assistant beverage director Laura Newman creates a cinnamon-infused syrup for her gorgeous winter drink The First Frost. Infusing spices adds just enough bite without going overboard.
Choose Seasonal, Winter Fruit
Summer may have the reputation for fruity cocktails, but don’t count out winter. Some of the best fruits for making cocktails peak this time of year. Cranberries and pomegranates can work with multiple liqueurs and are also perfect when mixed with Champagne. Pam Wiznitzer at Upper East Side's Seamstress pairs pure cranberry juice with a ginger liqueur and Champagne for a zesty, gorgeously hued cocktail. Citrus fruits lend a light pizzazz to a cocktail that can counteract a heavier menu. And don't limit your options to fresh. Veteran bartender Jim Kearns, Co-Owner of Slowly Shirley likes to pair dried fruits with spicy flavors for a well-rounded flavor profile.
Smokiness Brings Coziness
Winter evokes the timeless tradition of relaxing next to an incredibly cozy winter fire. Smoky scotches or other smoky ingredients are a perfect way to translate that feeling into a cocktail. Chef and owner of the Holiday Cocktail Lounge and La Palapa, Barbara Sibley, focuses on the Mexican spirit Mezcal for the season, thanks to its distinct hints of smoke that adds warmth to any drink.
Serve it Hot
Baby it's cold outside! Hot drinks are winter favorites and an ideal way to incorporate seasonal flavors and traditions. Plus they will warm your guests right up … especially if they've just come inside! Becky McFalls, a 10-year veteran bartender who currently creates curated cocktails at The Django in Tribeca suggests cold-weather standards like mulled wine, hot toddies, hot buttered rum, and hot mulled cider.
Hot and cold drinks alike can be made and served in large batches. Not only is this easy to prepare ahead of time, but they can add a festive element to your reception. Dauermann suggests making French 75s, preparing most of the ingredients together ahead of time and topping off each cocktail with Champagne as it's served. Serving large batches doesn't necessary leave anyone out, either. Perfect for kids, pregnant attendees, or any nondrinker, McFalls suggests making a nonalcoholic hot mulled cider and adding the optional spirit in separately.
Serve with Style
What's inside your drink isn’t the only way to show your creativity. Seasonally appropriate mugs or teacups can hold hot drinks. Have them custom made to add a pretty personal touch to your reception, letting your guests take them home as gifts. And we especially love Dauermann's idea of ordering small flask-shaped bottles (available online) to serve pre-batched old fashions or other cocktails. Have the bottles engraved as unique keepsakes for your guests.