While standard wine and beer bars are great for the host because they are easier on budget, a party is also time for a little fun. You can have the best of both worlds by offering clients speciality cocktail drinks as an add-on to a standard beer and wine bar. Guests are entertained, costs are still controlled, and the options for theme and décor are almost limitless.
Specialty cocktails give you and the host and opportunity to tell a story or create a unique feel and vibe that can leave guests talking long after the party or reception is over (assuming they don’t have too good of a time).
Match the theme
You can create a beach party, après-ski winter warmers, or evoke a location on the other side of the world with your décor, your food and your drinks. Here’s a couple ideas to get your imagination warmed up…
Beach Themed Party
The sky is the limit for this theme, because there’s hardly a fruit-based specialty cocktail drink that doesn’t fit. Stay with the sunny colors, pineapple garnish and lots of ice, and it’s a theme that lends itself to pre-mixed cocktails in jugs – Hawaiian punch and Sangria really work here too.
Bring the feeling back into those chilled fingers quickly with some heat! Mulled wine, when the weather really is cold, can’t be beaten. The warm cocktail colors are red, purple, all dark, with dashes of froth or cream. Whipped egg white can be painted onto glasses and garnishes, then sprinkled with sugar for excellent frost effect. With a steady hand you can even create patterns! Along with all the warm colors, consider eggnog, or the equally egg-rich original Snowball as possible specialty cocktail drinks.
Coloring your specialty cocktail drinks
If your client has corporate colors, or a wedding theme, or just a pink-for-a-girl party, you can offer black, white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple – without breaking the bank and still having a few options within each color. We’ve found 3 for each color to get your imagination started.
Black Specialty Cocktails
Go black! How about – the black martini (vodka or gin)? Either use Blavod, black colored vodka, or mix with either blackberry brandy or black raspberry liqueur. The Black Cat is vodka and cherry brandy, topped with cranberry juice and cola. Or of course the ever-popular Black Russian
White Specialty Cocktail Drinks
The White Russian is the Black Russian with cream. As it isn’t a true white cocktail, better options would be White Cosmopolitan (white cranberry juice), White Lady (which like the Cosmopolitan conveniently also uses Cointreau, reducing the variety of liquors and liqueurs you need to stock), or the popular China White.
Red specialty cocktail drinks
Grenadine is invaluable on any bar featuring a red theme. The Bloody Mary lends itself well to pre-mixing – Ultimate Pitcher of Bloody Mary Famous red cocktails include also the Cosmopolitan, the slightly trickier Singapore Sling or the Strawberry Daiquiri.
Pink specialty cocktail drinks
Many of the red cocktails are pinkish, or can shade to pink for a pink theme. Unmistakably pink cocktails include Cosmo’s Frozen Pink Lemonade. Sangria Barcelona is another pretty color, and not too strong. It is generally wise to keep pink drinks as pretty and alcohol light as their color!
Purple specialty cocktail drinks
Blue specialty cocktail drinks
Yellow specialty cocktail drinks
Green specialty cocktail drinks
If only green cocktails are being offered, stock melon liqueur and green Chartreuse in case a drinker can’t stand the peppermint stuff. Crème de menthe cocktail suggestions include Mint Frappe, Greentini (usually gin, but vodka will do in a pinch) and After Eight shooters. Use melon liqueur for drinks like Appletini and Green Tequila, and green Chartreuse for drinks like Funky Monkey, Screaming Lizard and The MacGyver.
Orange specialty cocktail drinks
Going Beyond Color
Beyond using color alone, there’s plenty of other ways to use cocktails to tell a story or add a unique vibe.
Mocktails – The Non-alcoholic Option
There are some specialty cocktail drinks that don’t need alcohol at all. At a mixed age party such as a wedding reception, set up a separate bar for guests under the legal age. There’s a fun range of cocktails that look grown-up, taste grown-up, and wouldn’t harm a baby. They’re fun for the designated drivers, too.
Most vodka-based cocktails will adapt because vodka has so little taste. The Virgin Mary (or Bloody Shame, if your barman can pull off a convincing Australian accent) is ideal because the taste is so distinctive it is impossible to tell if it has vodka or not. Grenadine is one of your color friends on the alcohol-free cocktail bar. Fun child-friendly alternatives include this traffic light trio Cranberry cutie (red), fireside-flamer (amber), kiwi-and-ginger (green)
Adding cocktails to a wine bar
A wine bar with enough champagne, or sparkling wine, can offer cocktail fun without any spirits – Bucks Fizz and Mimosa are just the starters. Add one spirit option – the ever-popular vodka, for instance – to fizz up options like these – Accomplice (vodka, lemon juice, Champagne, strawberries) Beautiful Boat (with mint), and Champanska (with lime cordial)
Shots and shooters
Adding a range of shots and shooters really goes down well with certain groups, but is the most expensive option for specialty cocktail drinks, because of the range you’ll have to offer.
Signature Specialty Cocktails for Special Clients
Choose just one specialty cocktail if the client wants to highlight a product, evoke a memory, or create an original impression. A wedding party could serve Manhattans if that’s the drink the couple met over, for example.
Offer to create a unique cocktail for your corporate client and make that the signature cocktail of the event. A specialty cocktail for a corporate client doesn’t need to be a totally new mix. Taking a traditional cocktail and adding your own unique (and keep it secret) twist can be a memorable way to brand the new product.
If you are not already doing it, infusing spirits in-house will give you a range of colors and flavours which will make your specialty cocktails unique. There is a color-matching section later in this blog to match any theme.
Vodka as the only spirit – the Super Simple Version
Without adding any other alcohol at all, here are some easy options which only need vodka, fruit juices or standard mixers, and fruit garnishes. Use long glasses with cracked or crushed ice, and fun straws, for the easiest specialty cocktail assortment – the Screwdriver, the Greyhound, Sea Breeze, Cape Codder, Madras, Christmas Jones, Strawberry Berryoska and Basil North. Add iced tea to your basic bar stocks for a Tea Tini.
Let Your Imagination Roam
I hope you’ve gotten a few ideas here. I’m hoping you’re creative juices are flowing by this point and you’ll have more than your fair share of ideas. If you come up with any great ones, let me know!
Well…thirsty work, this. Anyone for a drink?