Cocktail-hour trends: Mixology, bubbly and beer (recipes included!)

We are finally in the homestretch! Wow, that went FAST. We’re busy finalizing all of the details for The Knot Dream Wedding — Sierra and Andre’s ceremony, all the amazing choices you’ve voted for, the menu (more on that in next week’s blog!) and, of course — the toasts! After all, what’s a wedding without a bit of bubbly?

Which brings me to this week’s hot topic: cocktail hour! A vivacious kickoff to a wedding celebration, the first few moments of the reception can truly set the tone for the entire evening. At Chandelier Events, I love to infuse cocktail hours with stylish surprises — from performance artists to enticing stations and, of course, amazing libations!

Here are three hot trends for wedding cocktail hours to consider:


Photo: Elizabeth Messina

Photo: Elizabeth Messina

Champagnes and sparkling wines are a nuptial staple. Why not go beyond the toast and incorporate bubbly in a bigger way? This effervescent beverage should take center stage at your event — from tasting bars hosted by a sommelier (a certified wine educator), where guests can sample different vintages, to retro champagne fountains and sparkling cocktails poured at bars made entirely of ice. (We can’t wait to see what our official ice stylist, Okamoto Studio, dreams up for Sierra and Andre’s day!)

Selecting a vintage? I’m currently obsessed with Chandon Brut Classic, Moët & Chandon’s sparkling wine from Napa Valley. It’s a refreshingly soft, yet dry wine, driven by chardonnay with complex apple and pear characteristics accented by citrus spice over notes of almond and caramel! Doesn’t it sound delish?! We’ll be pouring Chandon on February 14 — and here’s a signature sparkling cocktail they created just for you and your Valentine!

Chandon Hibiscus Romance
1 hibiscus flower (wild hibiscus flowers in syrup). Made by the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company of Australia; available at Whole Foods
½ Tbl. syrup from the jar of wild hibiscus flowers
1 small drop of rose water
Chandon Blanc de Noirs

Directions: Combine hibiscus flower, syrup and rose water in a champagne flute. Top with Chandon Blanc de Noirs and serve immediately.


Photo: Kristin Taylor Photography

Photo: Kristin Taylor Photography

Signature cocktails have been all the rage for the past few years–and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. I often hire a mixologist to design custom cocktails for my events — and you can too! In fact, many venues have mixologists on site to handcraft cocktails just for your wedding. Our venue — Celsius at Citi Pond at Bryant Park — has some incredible winter-themed potions, like Frostbites, Snowcaps and Polar Bear Cosmos!

Choose a cocktail based on your favorite type of drink (vodka, tequila or rum is a great place to start). Next, think about the season — mint basil lemonades work great during the spring and summer, while nutty-based drinks and mulled ciders are hot for winter. Don’t be afraid to add fresh ingredients like fruit purees, mint leaves frozen in ice cubes, herbal garnishes and foams to your concoctions!

Here are two festive cocktails from Smirnoff — our vodka partner for The Knot Dream Wedding!

Las Vegas Wedding
1 oz. Smirnoff Iced Cake flavored vodka
¼ oz. creme de cacao liqueur
¼ oz. Godiva Chocolate Raspberry vodka
¼ oz. simple syrup
1½ oz. coconut milk

Directions: Shake and strain all ingredients over crushed ice. Garnish with a raspberry and shaved chocolate.

Kissed Caramel Appletini 
2 oz. Smirnoff Kissed Caramel flavored vodka
1½ oz. apple juice
¼ oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. simple syrup

Directions: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with thin apple slices.


Photo: Kelly Park Photography

Photo: Kelly Park Photography

Okay, this one’s for the grooms! Yes, I know brides like beer too, but there’s no denying that guys will have fun putting their two cents in on this trend. Shake up your beer menu with microbrews, specialty ales and pilsners to round out your bar offerings. Take a cue from your location and find special bottles from local breweries. Guests will take notice of your attention to detail and taste in great beer with a variety of flavor profiles.

At The Knot Dream Wedding, we’ll have two beer selections: the all-time favorite full-bodied brew Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Samuel Adams Noble Pils — a deep-golden beer with a spicy, herbal and citrus hop character created with a blend of five noble hops varieties from around the world. Fun fact: Founder and brewer Jim Koch brewed the first batch of Noble Pils for his own daughter’s wedding day!

Next week, we’ll be back to talk menu, cake and other delectable trends we’ll be incorporating into The Knot Dream Wedding. Keep casting your votes to see how it all comes together!


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Escort cards are extremely easy to personalize and an excellent way to bring in your wedding day colors -- from calligraphed seating cards set atop a textured linen to apples tagged with each guest's name or small personalized bundles of lavender tied off with string. Other ways to display escort cards: Pin them to a clothesline, post them on a board covered in color-coordinated ribbon, or incorporate them into your cocktail hour using personalized stirrers tagged with guests' names.
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