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Designing the perfect drink menu that will not only appeal to all guests, but wow them, is a challenge. That’s where we come in. Here at Pink Monkey Solutions, we know that no amount of dazzling decor can compensate for a lackluster food and beverage selection. While some might see stocking the bar as an afterthought, it can be just as important as the cuisine and can be an opportunity to take your wedding, big birthday or corporate event to the next level.

Bartending Basics: Assessing Your Audience’s Tastes and Preferences

Older guests tend to lean toward more spirits and liquors, while those in their 20s and 30s typically favor beer and wine. Does your party consist of a whiskey-loving crowd, or people who like vodka-based cocktails?

Research shows that Millennials prefer craft beers and are especially keen on vintage-style liquors and cocktails that inspire a sense of place, such as the popular Moscow mule. When it comes to wine, younger drinkers are now more adventurous in their selections and more knowledgeable about different varietals. Featuring a local wine that tells a story about its origin is a chance to tie in the event’s theme and impress guests with your sommelier-like wisdom.

Calculating how much wine, beer and liquor you need can be tricky and some event planners use different formulas. Some suggest using the length of the event to gauge the number of drinks most guests will consume. For example, guests might have four drinks in a three-hour period. Helpful drink calculators and charts can be found online here and here.

Selecting a Signature Cocktail

Offering a one-of-a-kind cocktail at your bash has been in vogue for some time, but there are still plenty of new and inventive ways to make your special sipper stand out. Currently, frozen cocktails are all the rage, which can add a welcome change to familiar favorites, like a frosty craft daiquiri or an icy gin-and-tonic. There are endless ways to design a drink that compliments your event, but here are a few of our favorites that haven’t been done to death:

  • Pick a garnish first, then come up with a cocktail: Highlight a garnish that’s similar to the colors of your event, like adding blackberries to champagne for a black-and-white affair
  • Serve your drink in an unusual glass or customize it: Tumblers with the bride and groom’s names painted on them double as a take-home party favor, or pour frozen margaritas into Mason jars for a funky vintage-inspired twist
  • Add a floral element for a memorable aroma: If you prefer to stick with a classic cocktail, using a floral accent like lavender or pairing chamomile flowers and honey with whiskey provides a fresh take guests won’t be expecting

When creating a signature cocktail, don’t forget the aesthetics. An eye-catching drink can boost your event’s social media presence and increase the number of likes and shares you’ll garner on both Facebook and Instagram. If you’re planning a dry event, consider making your specialty beverage non-alcoholic, which all ages can drink and enjoy.

A Few Drinking Do’s and Don’ts

When you’re orchestrating a wedding or event, often one of your biggest cost concerns is the beverage budget. There are ways to stay within your price point without coming across as stingy. Limited-run bars are heavily frowned upon, as the majority of attendees like to be able to refresh their drinks well into the evening. Offering complimentary wine and beer along with a cash bar for spirits is quite common, but keep in mind that you are hosting the event and guests expect to be treated as such, so make sure to offer an array of top-shelf liquor selections and mixers.

Here at Pink Monkey, we advise our clients to find a balance between accommodating their guests and creating the event of their dreams. Again, a signature cocktail can be a way to offer an upscale option while also being assured that most guests enjoy quality wine and beer. One big no-no: tip jars at bartending stations. As the host, it is your duty to tip the bartenders and waitstaff for their services, not the guests.

In lieu of the traditional wedding toast with champagne, there are other ways one can serve sparkling wine with a bit more pop and pizzazz. A new trend is to hand out small bottles of champagne for guests to pop themselves, or you can also create a custom label with the wedding date imprinted on it. Don’t be afraid to combine champagne with another part of the evening. Guests go crazy for champagne popsicles, or why not serve a sweet and delectable champagne float as a way to toast to everyone’s favorite meal: dessert.

Crafted Colorado-Inspired Ideas

Colorado is a premiere event destination for a host of reasons: the incredible mountain views, the spectacular weather and the ease with which one can create an elegant atmosphere while being surrounded in nature. Incorporating Colorado touches can also extend to the drink menu, as the region offers a slew of artisanal spirits, hand-crafted liqueurs and local wineries and breweries.

Due to the state’s thriving craft beer scene, many events now include brew tastings, which can be a hit with a younger crowd interested in expanding their taste buds by savoring a tangerine I.P.A. or a Belgian-style session ale. Some local breweries even offer to create a specialty craft beer for couples on their wedding day.

For winter parties during the ski season, don’t be afraid to offer a warm cocktail or use seasonally-inspired ingredients, like cinnamon or an apple liqueur. Another hot option is hard cider (served warm or cold) or gluhwein, a mulled wine popular in Europe and among the ski crowd.

Professional Mixologists At Your Service

As more guests seek a curated experience, drink selections now not only complement the food menu and correspond to the theme, they are often the main event of the evening. Master mixologists have upped their game, crafting creative cocktails with unpredictable tastes and flavor profiles. Pink Monkey is now collaborating with The Grand Bevy, a speciality cocktail service that provides professional mixologists and high-end bartending services for your next luxury event.

Stocking the bar has gone beyond making sure you have enough reds, whites and brews to last the evening. Pink Monkey and our partners will assist you in designing a drink menu — complete with an Instagram-worthy signature cocktail — that will appease both the alcohol experts and those who just love something simple and sweet. Give us a call or shoot us an email so that we can help you take care of all your bartending and mixology needs.