by Nancy Mattia
Serving a specially crafted cocktail at your reception instantly raises the fun factor of the drinks menu. But when you include some ingredients that shout "Texas!", you're customizing the libation with Lone Star spirit! From liquors to garnishes, we've got some ideas to get you started.
Pour on the Heat
Texas cuisine is known for its kick, so why not extend the fiery flavoring to your featured drink? "Something with spice definitely says ‘Texas,'" Rob Crabtree, beverage director of Goode Company Catering in Houston, says. He recommends drinks featuring Ancho Reyes, a spicy liqueur made with ancho chilies, to raise the heat level of a drink without overpowering it. It's a key ingredient in Crabtree's Luckenbach Mule, a spicy-sweet concoction made with the chili liqueur, Texas vodka, watermelon syrup, ginger beer and lime juice that's a takeoff of the popular Moscow Mule.
Rejigger the Margarita
If you have your heart set on guests knocking back margaritas as your signature drink, consider this variation to keep things interesting: a Mexican martini, which is a standard margarita mixed with green-olive brine and orange juice, garnished with olives and lime wedges. Lime is usually the only fruit that ever goes near a margarita glass, but take a cue from Houston's El Gran Malo restaurant and add blueberries, plus jalapeños and cilantro, for a fruity/spicy spin on tradition.
Treat Guests to Tequila
"Texas is a major tequila state," notes Crabtree. "It's what people expect to drink when they come here." You won't disappoint the crowd if your signature cocktail is a classic Paloma, a fruity, fizzy creation that partners tequila with grapefruit soda and lime juice. Want something with more of an edge? Serve the Paloma made with pepper-infused tequila and agave nectar, featured on the menu at Houston's Cottonwood bar.
When it comes to choosing which tequila to use, the higher-quality varieties made from 100 percent blue agave-rather than the traditional 51 percent-are getting all the buzz. "There's a new breed of customers becoming aficionados," says Crabtree, "and they're seeking premium brands."
Love the Lime
While not the official fruit of Texas-that honor goes to the grapefruit-this juicy green goddess is a major player in drinks and garnishes served in Houston's bars and restaurants. Consider Lillo & Ella's El Pepino made with gin, habanero shrub, mint, cucumber water and plenty of fresh lime juice. It'd be a perfect way to keep guests refreshed at a steamy outdoor wedding.
Tex-ify the Drink's Name
You can identify signature drinks many ways: with your first names ("Joe and Katie's Apple Martini"), with cuteness ("Berry Happy Sangria") or by your personal picks ("The groom's recommendation: Whiskey Sour"). But you're getting married in Houston, so why not give a shout out to your favorite landmark, the place you met, the street you live on? It's an easy way to instantly personalize your signature sip. Whatever you choose, be sure to list the ingredients below each drink's name so guests know what's in each libation.
Some signature drink tips: If you're planning to serve two drinks-one created by the bride, the other created by the groom-they should be very different from one another. "One should be boozier, and the other lighter, maybe with citrus and soda," says Crabtree. "It gives guests variety."
Signature drinks not only add a custom touch to the reception but can save you money too. Instead of stocking a bar with many different spirits and lots of different mixers, you just have to buy ingredients for one or two drinks; if you buy in bulk, you'll save even more.
Find the perfect mixologist to concoct your signature drink at IDoHou's catering and bartending directory.