Signature cocktails have gone from wedding trend to reception staple, but how do savvy brides and grooms select the right libations for the season? We turned to the experts at The Breakers Palm Beach for guidance: John Kao, certified Sommelier and Banquet Beverage Manager, who guides the selection of signature cocktails and ideal wine pairings for weddings and celebrations; and Chris Dorman, General Manager and expert Mixologist at HMF (the property’s glamorous retreat for social eating and drinking).
In addition to their wisdom, the two insiders shared a trio of cocktail recipes exclusive to The Breakers Palm Beach that are perfect for spring weddings. Read on to discover the secrets of a sensational seasonal cocktail, and consider adding a dash of Palm Beach magic to your wedding reception or cocktail hour.
What elements should a couple look for in a wedding-friendly spring cocktail?
CHRIS DORMAN: The two main elements of any great cocktail are presentation and balance. The freshness of the cocktail should come through before you take the first sip. It is not about the number of ingredients, but rather having ingredients that work in harmony with one another. Often times the simpler version is the best.
JOHN KAO: Spring evokes a freshness that should be reflected in both the presentation, and the ingredients. Refreshing drinks that utilize fresh juices while featuring a presentation that conveys a sense of lightness are key factors in a great spring cocktail.
Which liquors are more evocative of and/or associated with spring?
C.D.: When I think of spring I think of light, refreshing flavors that complement liquors such as white rum, softer gins, and vodka.
J.K.: For me, tequila and infused spirits echo the freshness of the season. Some of my favorites include citrus, cucumber, and herbal and floral flavors such as lavender, cilantro and hibiscus.
What are some of the innovative twists that HMF utilizes to make their cocktails stand out that would work well for weddings?
C.D.: It starts with a great tasting cocktail, but then you want to match it with a memorable presentation. Whether it’s the lime foam floating above The Redhead, or the fresh look of Kirby cucumbers in the GT's, or the simplicity of a sprig of rosemary garnishing the Pink Grapefruit Fizz, it’s important to create a cocktail people will walk away remembering.
J.K.: Both at HMF and for our wedding celebrations, presentation is a key element of the cocktail experience. Springtime weddings are elegant, whimsical affairs that have a sense of the outdoors. When we are creating a cocktail, we look to capitalize on the outdoor elements, with unique twists that will not only stand up to sun and warm weather, but also leave guests refreshed. We also consider drink concepts that will have broad appeal, and can be created and served on a large scale. The drink does not need a lot of ingredients. It needs quality ingredients, balanced flavors, and a graceful presentation. When those elements come together, they allow the components of the drink to shine.
1 ½ ounces Hendricks Gin
5 Kirby cucumber slices
3 sprigs of rosemary
Place 3 Kirby cucumber slices and 1 sprig of rosemary in a mixing tin and muddle. Add ice and Hendricks Gin. Shake and pour into a highball glass. Top with tonic water, and garnish with 2 slices Kirby cucumber and 2 rosemary sprigs.
2 ½ ounces Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka
½ ounce Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
2 ounces cranberry juice
Combine ingredients, shake, and strain into a martini glass. Top with lime foam (see below).
Combine 1 cup lime juice and 2 tablespoons sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Prepare 1 gelatin sheet with cold water per package instructions. Drop the prepared gelatin into boiling mixture until it dissolves, stirring constantly. Let cool. (Ingredients may be adjusted based on desired sweetness and thickness of foam.)
PINK GRAPEFRUIT FIZZ
1½ ounces Bombay Gin
½ ounce rosemary-infused simple syrup
1 ounce grapefruit juice
5 ounces Gosset Champagne
1 sprig rosemary
Place gin, rosemary simple syrup, and grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker; shake and strain into a Champagne flute. Top mixture with Champagne and garnish with rosemary sprig.
Signature cocktail photographs courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach