Boring cocktail hours are a thing of the past. Even corporate events are turning this networking period into a social and entertaining element of their evening. It’s possible that when you first think of a cocktail hour, the cookie-cutter style may come to mind. Think of the standard approach: food, drinks, music. This is a great foundation to start with, but there is so much that can be done to take this to the next level and really wow a set of guests.
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Providing signature drink options is a popular and well-known choice for an easy cocktail hour upgrade. However, inviting your guests to try something new that isn’t typically served at an event adds a special touch to an otherwise ‘standard’ bar. Some of our favorites that we have seen in 2016 were a cucumber mint mojito and chocolate mint martini. We see signature drinks often with weddings and social events, but it is very fun for corporate events too! If you are stumped on what to offer, we are always happy to provide some suggestions. Our Vice President of Food and Beverage has a love for crafting custom libations and is always happy to look at our inventory and make a recommendation for your event. Also, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your choices! Name your cocktails after the bride and groom or theme your drink names around company achievements! Cocktails can be themed to match your event or match the cocktail color to your party’s color scheme.
People love to mingle! One of the best features of a great cocktail hour is the ability for guests to socialize comfortably. Don’t overcrowd the room with chairs. A combination of low tables and chairs with high-top tables will give your cocktail hour a different feel than your sit-down reception or party. If you want a cozier vibe, build virtual living room spaces with armchairs, rugs, end tables, and coffee tables mixed in with high-top tables and some bar stools. Regardless if a party is large or small, creating a lounge vibe helps guests get even more comfortable in the space to truly enjoy themselves.
Play Some Music
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Adding background sounds allow guests to easily talk, but also hum along to some classics they might already know. Many cocktail hours will feature some type of background sound. Match the music to the mood you’re trying to create. This might seem like standard advice, but there have been times when we have catered to cocktail hours with no music in the background and it can be a tad awkward. However, to avoid this bit of a faux pas skip the DJ and hire a jazz trio, acoustic guitarist, or other live entertainment that will keep your guests talking and enjoying each others company in a lively way.
If you are choosing to have an open bar for your reception or the main portion of your event, a specialty bar is a unique way to kick up your cocktail hour to make it different than the typical. Do you love to try new things and want to invite your guests to do the same? It’s possible that your caterer already has a few beverage tricks up their sleeve like a specialty snowtini bar or a martini ice luge. It doesn’t hurt to think outside the box and ask for something unique.
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Barware doesn’t need to ‘standard’. Decor doesn’t just stop with the flowers and the linens. Little extras, such as monogrammed napkins, colorful themed straws or even custom printed coasters can go a long way in making your event feel totally personalized. It’s the little momentos like these that show your guests that you took time to thoughtfully plan the event.
Our berry lemonade always tastes better on warm sunny, summer days!
Not everyone is going to go straight for a crafty libation when cocktail hour begins. For hotter months, guests might want a water (especially if they were just at an outdoor wedding ceremony) or something warm if it’s very cold outside. Offer nonalcoholic options that will not only quench their thirst, but also satisfy their palates. For example try water infused with cucumbers, melon, and mint or hot apple cider. Work with your caterer to offer something inventive that could be your signature drink for your special event.