Forget bar menus limited to plain champagne, red and white wine, and chocolate martinis. Meaghan Sinclair and Harmony Dawn, the spirited duo behind Booze Époque, create locally sourced cocktails that match a couple’s wedding style. Sinclair (pictured at right) and Dawn—who worked as a tarot-card reader and a band manager, respectively, before launching their business last year—are the bartenders at every event they book, ensuring drinks are executed with the couple’s vision in mind (and with fun napkins and straws to boot). “A modern wedding bar is one that really reflects the feel of the wedding and the personality of the couple,” Sinclair says.
What are the hottest trends in wedding cocktails?
Handmade craft cocktails are the trend. And within that, people are more interested in using fresh ingredients, which is a beautiful thing. Couples are also starting to use local products—there are so many cool new breweries and distilleries popping up in the Boston area.
Open bars can be a budget-buster. What’s your opinion: open or cash?
We think open bars work well, and they can be a nice way of thanking guests for being part of your wedding. Sometimes it’s just a matter of doing a little investigating: A lot of venues offer tiered pricing for an open bar. Some spirits are certainly pricier than others. We tend to work with more-limited signature menus, meaning clients will come to us and we’ll put together a menu of two to 10 drinks. Having limited signature menus can really help with the unknown factor of Uncle Bob ordering a bunch of 30-year scotch. You can also do an open bar for the cocktail hour, and then switch to cash.
Any other ideas for keeping costs down?
Punches save money: Similar to a signature drink, you have more control over what you’re serving your guests. There’s a lot of variety in punches. They can be gorgeous and seasonal and play to many different palates.
Why are seasonal ingredients important?
Fresher ingredients taste better—there’s no way around that. We make our own syrups, shrubs, and tinctures and almost all of our own juices, and we use bushels of fresh fruit. We’re also proponents of supporting the local agricultural community, which can be difficult through the winter. But once spring and summer come, we source locally wherever we can. There’s something wonderful about knowing exactly where that raspberry or mint came from.
What should a couple consider when designing a “signature” cocktail?
First, decide on a base spirit. Of course, we’re able to mix different liquors, but having a base is a great starting point. Also consider any theme elements or theme colors. The vibe of the wedding is also important: Is it a beach celebration? Does the couple love punk rock or Star Wars?
How do you explain the concept of craft cocktails to Mom and Dad, who may be footing the bar bill?
Do a tasting: People who may not know what a craft cocktail is get it when they see the fennel fronds or blood-orange slices.
What kinds of cocktails did you serve at your own wedding?
I got married six years ago and had a traditional open bar. If I were to do it again, I’d probably serve a drink that we created called the Mercado: We use Greylock gin from Berkshire Mountain Distillers, which is mixed with our house-made ginger-basil-lime simple syrup and clementine-and-pomelo juice. It’s one of our fan favorites. I’d also serve an Old Fashioned. It’s a classic for a reason.
How do you deal with guests who’ve had too many drinks?
The same way you would at any bar. First, a bartender should try to ensure that people don’t get to the point of no return. Second, offer people sparkling water or other nonalcoholic choices. Because we make so many of our own syrups and juices, sometimes people are happy to have a little syrup and fruit in sparkling water.
Which cocktails simply have no place at weddings?
There isn’t any particular cocktail non grata. It’s really up to the couple and up to the bartenders creating the drinks. If someone loves Diet Mountain Dew and grape vodka, we’re not going to stop him.
Are there certain beverages more suited to daytime weddings, and ones that work better at night?
Aesthetically, people might leave the darker boozes—bourbons, whiskeys, scotches, and brandies—for evening. But ultimately, anything can be served at any time. Couples need to decide what they want to convey in terms of mood. We don’t want to dissuade a bride and groom from serving a Manhattan at brunch if that’s what they want. In fact, we think it sounds awesome.
What’s the best kind of drink for a rustic farm wedding?
A classic Old Fashioned is a warming drink on a chilly fall evening. We’ve created a variation with local flavors. Instead of traditional cherries, we use house-made maple-brandy cranberries. We then add a dash of black-walnut bitters in place of the traditional Angostura bitters, and top with Berkshire Mountain Distillers bourbon. It’s a beautiful, earthy drink that goes well with late-night campfires and s’mores.
How about for a tropical-themed affair?
The Harry Nilsson—a blend of reposado tequila, sweetened coconut cream, and fresh sour mix, with a toasted-coconut rim—looks like a snowball. It matches well with winter-white attire, yet tastes like the tropics. The best part? Even Nanas love it, because of the coconut.
Booze Époque, 857-600-1323, boozeepoque.com.
A few of Booze Époque’s favorite purveyors.
The Boston Shaker
It’s our go-to for tools, bitters, and books. They have wonderful, helpful staffers and beautiful, high-quality products. 69 Holland St., Somerville, 617-718-2999, thebostonshaker.com.
Berkshire Mountain Distillers
This is one of our favorite local distillers. The company makes incredible spirits—the gin line is especially to die for. 413-229-0219, berkshiremountaindistillers.com.
Soluna Garden Farm
The shop offers an abundant selection of teas, salts, sugars, and herbs. Our team uses many of the products in our cocktails. 600 Main St., Winchester, 781-369-5027, solunagardenfarm.com.
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