There are a million and one ways to bring a personal touch to a wedding—and, while the planner in us loves design, the wedding crasher in us thinks that a signature cocktail is the best way to do so! Today, we sat down with wedding mixologist extraordinaire and our friend Stephen Ohalloran of San Diego based Please and Thank You Bar to get a cocktail crafter's take on how to stir (or shake) up a few extra rounds of personality at a wedding.
How does the couple’s personality influence how you create a signature cocktail?
The client's personality gives me an idea of how creative we can be with the drink menu. Some clients prefer to stick with the classics, like an old fashioned or gimlet, while others want to venture into exotic tiki-style drinks with guava, passion fruit, or even absinthe. The first thing I do with new clients is offer them a drink to see what they ask for. This helps me get a sense of what direction I need to take the menu for their event.
What is the best way for a couple to personalize their bar?
It’s always fun ways to tweak classic cocktails and put a new spin on everything from the ingredients to the names. Personalizing drinks with details from their story really makes the bar much more than just a place to get a drink.
How much does the catering menu affect what you serve at the bar?
We’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best caterers in San Diego, and we try to offer a flexible menu that can be paired well with almost any cuisine. Oftentimes, it's the season that dictates the menu of both the cocktails and the food, so we just try to incorporate pumpkin spice every fall….Just kidding (sort of).
I’ve yet to hear of a dish that doesn’t pair well with an open bar. Although, it is difficult to create dessert cocktails that can compete with some of the amazing cakes, cupcakes, and other pastries we run into at events.
What surprises people the most about hosting a bar?
People are always shocked at how much ice we go through during an event with a cocktail bar. You can never have enough.
What are ways couples can get what they want while staying on budget?
We pride ourselves on being flexible and working with each client to provide a personalized menu that not only takes their tastes into account, but also their budget. By adjusting the number of options for the bar or substituting various liquor, beer, or wine options, we try to find a way to be mindful of the budget, as everyone knows how important it is for a wedding.
"The first thing I do with new clients is offer them a drink to see what they ask for. This helps me get a sense of what direction I need to take the menu."
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of the job is having someone try one of our drinks and say it’s the best drink they’ve ever had.
What cocktail trend are you totally over?
Everyone choosing vodka in cocktails instead of gin—vodka doesn’t add any flavor to a drink and I’d rather have someone get outside of their comfort zone and try something new.
What is the best drink you guys have come up with?
Pololu Punch—from Anthony Schmidt at Fairweather—it's always a hit at events, and people love the edible orchid garnish.
The best drink that no one orders?
I love the iced mint mojito coffee at Philz Coffee (recipe below), so we just came up with a similar (but spiked) recipe. It’s tequila, coffee liqueur, mole bitters, cream and muddled mint. I can’t drink more than one, as it’s little on the sweet side—but that’s probably a good thing!
THE PHILZ GOOD
- 1 oz Tequila
- 1 oz Coffee Liqueur
- 1.5 oz Half/half
- 1/2 oz Cane Syrup
- 2 Dashes Scrappy's Chocolate Bitters
- 3-4 Mint Leaves
Shake all ingredients, strain over fresh ice, and garnish with fresh mint. Add some cold brew coffee to taste for extra zing!