As you probably know (or might have guessed), I love a cocktail. Between the gorgeous glassware, the alchemy made possible by a shaker and the chance to spend time with my nearest and dearest while sipping one, I find the whole thing irresistible. So I was absolutely delighted when Stephanie at Borrowed & Blue asked me to share what I've learned over the years about signature cocktails and stocking your own home bar.
Our Q&A is below!
What's your drink of choice?
It depends on the season–and the bar–but I never regret ordering an Americano.
What makes a "good" cocktail?
Balance, high quality ingredients and freshly squeezed juice.
What are the four most essential items you stock your bar with?
Campari, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, a solid bourbon and Barbancourt rum.
What's the most versatile mixer?
Club soda–and if you have a soda machine, you always have it on hand!
The best brand of bitters?
Every bar needs just three kinds of bitters: Angostura, Peychaud's and orange (I like Fee Brothers).
What's your favorite spring cocktail?
A Royal Badminton Cup or a glass of rosé.
A margarita or a Campari-soda.
If you had to sum up San Francisco in a drink, what would it be and why?
My favorite thing about San Francisco is the city's diversity–I hope it could never be summed up in a single cocktail! That said, if I had to do some research I'd start at Smuggler's Cove or Bar Agricole.
What are some good resources for discovering new cocktail recipes?
How would a couple decide what kind of signature cocktail is right for their wedding?
Just like picking wine, I recommend that couples consider the food served at their reception as well as the season and time of day. After making a list of initial ideas, taste-test your top picks–ideally with your cocktail hour menu–before selecting your favorites.
What are your feelings on "his" and "hers" cocktails?
We served a Royal Badminton Cup and a Corpse Reviver No. 2, but skipped the "his" and "hers" designations since they were both gin-based and we wanted our guests to feel comfortable sampling both. Spirits have had gendered profiles for a long time, but I know plenty of women who love a whiskey–and men who order piña coladas. If there's a drink he loves but you won't touch, feel free it call it "his"; otherwise, just serve cocktails you're both eager to have on the big day and call them yours.
Any other advice for couples choosing the signature cocktails at their wedding?
Think practically about your guest to bartender ratio and choose cocktails that can be done well. Labor intensive libations like mojitos and mint juleps or spirituous cocktails that require a lot of stirring might leave most of your guests waiting.
Don't worry about pleasing everyone with your signature cocktail–make it an expression of yourselves and your guests will be delighted to drink to the happy couple. Cheers!