I’ve never been a real wine snob, past the insistence that you serve wine in an actual wine glass (plastic cups don’t count, Dad). But like wine, alcoholic beverages of all kinds have recommended pairing guidelines. I’m not talking about food here. I’m talking about venue, event, company, circumstance…all things that determine whether you have a nice single-malt whisky or jungle juice served out of a real coconut.
So, SAT review time: Mai Tai is to Caribbean beach as Mind Eraser is to…if you said “wedding reception,” I’m glad you weren’t at mine. A wedding is a conclave of tangentially-related people who mostly don’t want be anywhere but the open bar. There’s a protocol to follow: if the bartender is busy making your B52 (flaming, of course, and heavy on the Kahlua), he’s not serving Aunt Mildred, and the night could get ugly fast.
Here, then, are six drinks that will keep the line flowing and the bar open:
1. Gin and Tonic The old standby. Clear liquor, a nice lime garnish, about 5 seconds to mix, and strong enough that it’s worth sipping it through that tiny straw. Nobody will question your masculinity, and if you think they’ll question your imagination, think again: this is a Classic Cocktail, capital C. If it’s a top-shelf kind of wedding, nothing wrong with asking for a Tanqueray and tonic (my fave) or even Bombay Sapphire and tonic (which we’ll discuss further).
2. Martini Most important: if they’ve got the blue bottle, Bombay Sapphire is my personal fave. Gin has a rep for causing bad hangovers, and a proper gin martini is always made Churchill-style: popular legend has it that the wily Brit preferred his martinis so dry that merely glancing at the vermouth from across the room was more than enough. So, we’re talking about a glass of cold gin, possibly embellished with an olive or two. Or, substitute vodka for the gin. But that’s it: we ain’t talkin’ about no Berry Blush Fruitini here. Just remember the Dorothy Parker quote:
I like to have a martini
Two at the very most –
After three I’m under the table,
After four, I’m under my host.
Which might be fine, depending on the wedding. I prefer three olives.
3. Scotch and soda I recently went on a whisky cruise around Boston Harbor, sampling everything from the always-behind-the-counter Johnny Walker Blue to The Peat Monster by artisanal distiller The Compass Box. There was a time when I would cringe at the thought of adulterating a Scotch whisky with anything but spring water or a single ice cube. But, considering that most weddings are serving Dewar’s as a top-shelf, much less something that costs upwards of $70 a bottle retail, I have no problem with a little Scottish bubbly.
4. Whiskey sour I add this because I love sour and salty things, because I do have a soft spot for what is definitely a “chick” drink, and because I can’t have more than one of these before running for the Prilosec. If you’ve got to have something sweet, fruity, and with a cherry in it, this is the go-to. Show off your cherry-stem knot-tying skills when you’re done, and the next (shotgun) wedding could be yours!
5. Cape Cod There’s an unwritten rule that men should only ever have clear or amber liquor at bars. In the event that you’re not a man, or you don’t believe in such stereotypes, this drink is just vodka and cranberry juice. It’s tasty, it’s red, and it comes in a cocktail glass. It coordinates nicely with either a little black dress, or a poofy white one, for any brides out there. And cranberry juice is good for your prostate…it’s practically a health drink!
6. Captain and Coke Also known as spiced rum and cola, but just use the brand names and they’ll substitute appropriately if necessary. Here’s a drink that truly bridges the gap between the sexes: men, women and children can all proudly stand and declare that they have a little Cap’n in them. Substitute Diet Coke to make this one Weight-Watchers friendly, then have twice as many.
Of course, the best way to make the night last is to stick to beer or wine (either/or!), and light beer if you can stand it. That way, you’ll still be standing when the afterparty kicks into high gear. Aunt Mildred will be so proud.
Am I discriminating against the strawberry daiquiri? Yell about booze below!`