7 Tips for Creating a Perfect Signature Cocktail
Planning an important event, and want to put together a memorable cocktail to serve to your guests? Creating a custom cocktail isn’t as difficult as you might think! With a little bit of mixology and a touch of creativity, anyone (yes, that means you!) can put together an impressive libation.
First, the mixology
If your cocktail knowledge is limited to margaritas and mojitos, that’s ok. You can always take a classic and put a spin on it. This is perhaps the easiest way to invent a new cocktail because you are using proportions that are tried and true. Additionally, since your guests are likely to recognize the base cocktail that served as your inspiration, they will already know what flavor profile to expect.
But if you are ready to explore new cocktail horizons, advice isn’t difficult to find. A quick internet search will give you an almost college-level education on the science of cocktails. For example, vodka is a popular mixer; but there are many other things to consider! Familiarize yourself with the various flavor profiles (sweet, spicy, bitter, sour, and the like). If you are creating the cocktail yourself, set aside time to experiment. Mixing your own drinks is an enjoyable activity in and of itself, so use your creativity and have fun! Just make sure you try your new invention before your big event, and read up on the following considerations before you make a final decision.
Location, location, location
Is your event taking place in Kentucky? Well, perhaps Bourbon would be a good choice. Or you could reference the local favorite and create your own spin on the mint julep. From mezcals in Mexico, to sangrias in Spain, to piña coladas in Puerto Rico—the possibilities are endless!
It might seem simple, but weather is a critical factor in choosing your dinner menu, and the same goes for your cocktail. Nobody wants to drink an ice-cold margarita in the middle of an ice-cold winter! Here are a few tips on seasonally appropriate cocktails:
Spring is all about the renewal of life, so consider serving your guests brightly-colored cocktails that evoke blooming flowers. Take advantage of fresh berries, or perhaps even include an edible floral garnish.
Guests will want to beat the heat—so make sure your cocktail keeps them cool! Think about refreshing flavors such as pineapple or watermelon, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. What about pomegranate, mango, or even cooling cucumber? You could also choose to be nostalgic and use a traditional summer flavor such as root beer, lemonade, or cotton candy.
Fall has so many flavors associated with it; think warm, spicy, flavors such as apple, chai, pumpkin, salted caramel, and of course, maple!
Winter is all about the holiday season with its glitter and shimmering packages. Consider classics such as peppermint, cinnamon, vanilla, or chocolate.
It’s getting crowded in here.
The amount of guests attending your party is another important consideration. If you are planning on having several hundred (or even more) guests, it could be difficult—and at the very least, expensive—to scale certain cocktails up to accommodate all your guests.
Use online calculators to analyze your ingredients, the number of guests you expect will drink (and if possible, how much they will drink)—and again, think seasonally—be sure that whatever ingredient/s you have in mind will be available.
Pretty in pink
If you are hosting a party where color coordination is important, take inspiration from Khloe Kardashian. She recently celebrated her 35th birthday with an all-pink extravaganza. And in keeping with her color theme, two signature cocktails were served: I’m in Love With The Koko, which featured tequila and pink lemonade, and Khlo Money Moves, a vodka and hibiscus tea concoction. Definitely sounds like these drinks were in perfect harmony with the pink theme, and with the timing of the party in the middle of a hot summer!
So if you have a particular party dress, bow-tie, or corporate logo, keep your color in mind. It will live on social media for eternity.
Now, for the fun part…
Now that practical considerations are out of the way, the fun can truly begin. You might want to sit down with the key players for your event (your significant other, your business partner, the birthday girl, etc.) and brainstorm a few ideas. Think of songs, places, movies, “how we met” moments, the proposal story, you name it! You can use any one of (or all of) these things to create your signature cocktail. After all, who said you had to choose just one?
For inspiration, you can look to a few celebrities and their signature cocktails:
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) famously created a cocktail that featured ginger, which reportedly was an homage to the groom’s red hair.
Chrissy Teigen celebrates her mother, as well as her own cultural heritage, with ingredients that hint at her Thai roots. With a sprig of Thai Holy Basil from her own garden, a strawberry-pepper syrup, vodka, and a splash of soda, she turns a classic on its heels.
But a signature cocktail is not limited to just birthdays and wedding soirees. They can also be used to elevate a brand. Companies are incorporating them into their brand identities. Take, for example, Crate & Barrel. They have begun serving modern but whimsically named cocktails at their first in-store café in Chicago. Their signature cocktails include a dark rum and coffee libation called Midnight Surmise, and the Crime of Passion, a black tea drink with a mix of fruit, soda water, and mint. They really thought of everybody, even those who don’t really enjoy alcohol!
A curated series of cocktails were created for the Cannes Film Festival, all containing the rather snazzy moniker of Le Fizz. The goal was to use vodka to accomplish the stylish appeal of champagne. They put together Grey Goose, St. Germain, lime, and soda water (to give a little sparkle), taking cues from the surrounding region’s adoration of spritzes.
What’s in a name?
Now that you have created your cocktail, there’s only one more thing left to do, and that is to come up with a memorable name. Just remember:
- Keep it Short. You don’t want to hold up the line at your bar with guests ordering the “We met on Tinder and on our first date we got pizza!” cocktail. It just takes too long. Think short and sweet, like, “Say I Do” or “The Bride” and “The Groom.”
- Again, look to your hobbies. Whether you love aviation, jungles, animals, movies, or a particular song—you can find cute phrases and words to incorporate into your cocktail title.
- Use your unique recipe (by now you have probably included a few stand-out ingredients!) to inform your cocktail moniker.
And there you have it! With a little bit of creativity, you will have a cocktail that is sure to stay on the tip of your tongue (and your guests!) for many years to come. All that’s left to do is raise your glass and say, “Cheers!”