Beer, Wine, and Gatsby-Era Libations

I love the cocktail hour during weddings. It’s such a nice time to catch up with old friends and family members and indulge in a drink (and sometimes a few hors d’oeuvres too) before the rest of the reception, when you are often seated at an assigned table. Mr. Wallaby and I are planning a lot of fun surprises for our outdoor cocktail hour—stay tuned! While we plan out those activities (we may or may not be constructing a set of cornhole boards!), we’ve also been discussing what to serve during the cocktail hour.


Swizzle sticks add some pizzazz to cocktail hour.

Photo by Joseph De Leo / Image from Handmade Weddings via Oh Joy!.

Here’s the kicker: our venue allows us to bring our own alcohol! They provide the bartender(s), and we bring all liquor and bar essentials (stemware, cocktail napkins, mixers, etc.). They don’t even charge a corkage fee. The more brides I talk to, the luckier I feel that we found a venue with such a budget-friendly alcohol policy. With our Costco membership, Mr. W and I can afford to buy much more liquor than we could if we hosted the wedding at a venue that charges a premium for drinks.

Even though we could, in theory, provide a full open bar for our guests, I am a little uneasy about that. First, my mom has mentioned that she thinks wedding should be beer and wine only—she prefers weddings to be modest affairs, not opportunities for everyone to get sideways. My mom doesn’t have too many demands about the wedding, so I feel very compelled to follow her advice when she offers it. Second, like Miss Sword, I have a pretty bad phobia of vomiting. I am generally pretty laid-back, but if any of our guests vomited in front of me at our wedding, I think I would totally lose it. I graduated from college not too long ago, and I know what happens when happy party-goers knock back rounds of shots. I haven’t seen as many episodes that were induced by beer and wine. Third, Mr. W and I aren’t big drinkers, and neither are our families. The two of us have a drink no more than once every couple weeks, usually when we’re splurging on a fancy dinner or if we’re meeting up with friends. We want everyone to have a great time, but it would be nice if things stayed relatively orderly the night of our wedding.


I pray our party people don’t end up like this. Photo via dexknows.

Solution: we will serve beer, wine, and a selection of vintage-inspired cocktails. We are big localvores, so we’re planning on ordering several kegs of beer from local breweries. We will happily leave the wine selection to my mom and grandma, who are far better wine connoisseurs than Mr. W and me. And we will provide our bartender with supplies to mix up some scrumptious Gatsby-era cocktails, to channel the vintage theme. I’m really excited for that detail—it’s always fun to go out for happy hour and order a specialty cocktail off of a unique menu. I’m hoping our guests will appreciate this detail. We know well that many people are picky about drinking liquor, so we will be sure to serve at least one drink with vodka, rum, whiskey, and gin. We’re also tossing around the idea of having a mimosa bar, with champagne, juice, and fresh fruit.


Paying tribute to a local brewery by serving local beer from a keg or on tap.

Photo by Cluney Photo / Image via Style Me Pretty.


Many scrumptious vintage cocktails begin with St. Germain.

Photo by White Loft Studio / Image via Snippet & Ink.


How amazing does that mimosa bar look?

Photo from Hello Love Blog.

Now’s the fun part: dreaming up a menu of the best vintage cocktails! Do you have any ideas of retro or vintage-inspired cocktails that we could serve?


Mrs. Wallaby

Wedding Date:
November 2012
To Drink or Not to Drink, That Is Kind of the Question
Apple-y Ever After: Reception Details
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 10:29 am

    I’ve always loved the Sidecar – 2 parts cognac (or brandy for frugality), 1 part cointreau (or triple sec for frugality), and 1 part fresh lemon juice.

    This isn’t strictly vintage, but it’s a delicious cocktail of my own invention which I call a Pear Sarah: 2 parts pear vodka, 1 part St. Germain, 1 part fresh lemon juice, and 3 parts sparkling white wine. I mention it since you noted you like St. Germain!

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Emily, Guest @ 10:32 am

    I think beer and wine + just one or two specialty cocktails (maybe you each pick one and have drinks that align with each of your ‘personalities’) but I would vote for having some bubbly too, for a champagne toast! =)

  3. otter Member
    otter 1321 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:35 am

    Beer and wine, thumbs up. We’re getting wine for me, and providing a few bottles specifically for the wedding party. I have way too many family members that may get rowdy, so there was no way shots/mixed drinks would work for us!

  4. msfox Member
    msfox 1635 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:49 am

    I love the idea of doing beer, wine, and a few signature cocktails – we did the same (with just one cocktail)! Nobody complained, nobody got super smashed.. a lovely time seemed to be had by all. 😉 And I totes love the idea of getting some local brews – makes it more “you” and unique!

  5. Member
    Almost Mrs.P 2056 posts, Buzzing bee @ 12:13 pm

    I love the phrase, “get sideways”! haha. Love the idea of vintage cocktails!

  6. mswallaby Member
    mswallaby 2070 posts, Buzzing bee @ 12:19 pm

    @Sarah: Yup those both sound great!! Thanks for the recipes!
    @Emily: Of course!! A champagne toast is in order!
    @Miss Otter: I’m so with you, lady. Our crowd would be OOC if we served shots.
    @Mrs. Fox: So glad to hear it worked out well!
    @almost-mrsp: Haha me too!! That describes it pretty well 😉

  7. sword Member
    sword 1029 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:20 pm

    Seriously girl, puke is yukey! I think you have a great plan to avoid anyone getting super smashed. I, on the other hand, have Mr. Sword insisting that we provide cash bar on top of wine, beer, and signature drinks because hey, his Scottish friends like to drink. And hey so do some of mine American friends. But I’ll be one pretty-sober bride, haha! No puking here!

  8. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 12:35 pm

    Oh, I can’t wait to see what kind of cocktails you decide to serve, I love signature cocktails at events!

  9. bluewhale Member
    bluewhale 638 posts, Busy bee @ 12:51 pm

    I love specialty cocktails! When there’s a full open bar, I either stick to beer or I just don’t know what to order so I end up with something standard and unimaginative like… rum and coke. But I would love to order a special drink!

    Also, champagne is totally my favorite drink, so I love the idea of the mimosa bar.

  10. msarmadillo Member
    msarmadillo 497 posts, Helper bee @ 1:24 pm

    I second the sidecar suggestion! I’ve had them made with bourbon, triple sec and lemon juice. They are awesome! Especially if you coat the rim of the glass with sugar like you do with salt for a margarita. Definitely one of my fave vintage cocktails!

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Jamie, Guest @ 2:16 pm

    Bringing your own booze and doing signature cocktails are totally the way to go! We did it and it saved us tons! Can’t wait to see what you come up with. One word of advice–check the return policies on the alcohol, we WAY overestimated and ended up returning $600 worth of beer, wine and booze!

  12. Member
    ChicagoDreamer 509 posts, Busy bee @ 8:42 pm

    Vintage cocktails is such a sweet touch! Pintrest or Google might be your best friend. Or asking people who are older and asking what they drank when they were younger.

  13. graywolf Member
    graywolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 9:22 am

    ooh love this idea! take a look at this – – i weirdly remembered it. i LOVE gin and i think a gin rickey is a good idea. or just a classic martini (although those can be pretty strong).

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