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Inspiration: Raise a Glass

From signature cocktails to locally brewed beers, the party portion of a wedding has become a highly sophisticated affair. But where to start? Here, Laura Johnson, founder of San Diego’s forthcoming You & Yours Distilling Co., and the folks behind Vista’s Booze Brothers Brewing Co. reveal how to make your boozy bash the best.

By Lisa Butterworth

"Islander" Cocktail with palm leaf-shaped stirrer

1. Choose a cocktail with significance.

A signature cocktail is a great way to placate the liquor-loving crowd without blowing your budget on a full bar. Just make sure it’s meaningful—like reprising the drink you shared on your first weekend away together!

Layered pink cocktail in tall glass with sugar rim

2. Call in the experts.

Work with a fabulous cocktail-centric caterer (like San Diego’s Barçon or Snake Oil Co.) to create a unique, custom cocktail or two. Offer guests hand-lettered drink recipe cards with your names and the date of your wedding.

Woman holds yellow cocktail with palm tree-shaped stirrer

3. Give some location love.

If your celebration is far away, incorporate spirits from your closest hometown distillery as a little nod to your provenance. Does your destination locale have a craft distillery scene? Mini bottles of a local spirit make great favors.

White palm leaf-shaped stirrer sits on glass rim Deep pink cocktail in a tall glass with cactus-shaped stirrer

4. Gauge your crowd.

Everyone in Southern California seems to love a strong IPA, but at a wedding, you’ve got to please the masses. Make sure to have a mellow option available—blondes, Belgian wits, and ambers are safe bets.

Multi-colored cactus-shaped stirrers

5. Keep it craft.

Yes, you’ve got to appeal to your general guest list, but we recommend sidestepping major corporate brews like Coors Light or Budweiser. At weddings, craft beer is way better! (Despite what your uncle from North Dakota thinks.)

Woman squeezing orange into bright orange cocktail Bright blue cocktail poured over blue cotton candy

6. Consider the booziness.

When ordering beer, especially for an open bar, it’s important to keep the ABV (alcohol by volume) in mind. A double IPA or heavy stout might make your guests sloppy; session or standard IPAs and brown ales are a smarter move.

Purple cocktail with decorative stirrer


Cocktails: Snake Oil Cocktail Co.
Styling & Design: Nic Roc Designs
Photography: Amy Lynn Photography

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