Unique Party Bar

How much attention do you pay to the bar when you are planning an important party? I have always thought about the wine and beer and maybe even a signature cocktail. But the non-alcoholic drinks are usually bottled water, cola, diet cola and maybe a caffeine free option. Not so for the groom at a recent wedding we coordinated.

When we met with this great couple to talk about their reception, the groom mentioned that a significant number of wedding guests would be non-drinkers. We asked about wine but he was most concerned about presenting his guests with an interesting assortment of unique non-alcoholic choices. What does that mean? Dr Pepper instead of Coke? It wasn’t quite that simple. He explained to us the difference in the taste of soda made with cane sugar and those made with high fructose corn syrup. I am a diet coke person, so I never gave it much thought. We asked about beer but he wanted to be sure we knew about ginger beer and flavored sparkling water. And so the challenge of the bar began!

I am not a “drinking person” but I do know my way around the package store. I knew we needed a couple of new, great tasting wines…one red, one white. My trusty sommelier at the local mart led me in the direction of an Argentinean Malbec and a Grüner Veltliner. My business partner and I decided that a fall beer was a great choice for a harvest lunch and so it was. Purchases made and my trunk filled, the easy part was over.

Finding the remaining drinks was no easy task. In addition, we like to buy locally when possible and did not want to cave into going to a large, natural, organic, expensive, not locally owned grocery store! The hunt was on and we began reading soda bottle labels, looking at colors and beginning to get a better understanding of what we were missing. It was truly an adventure and when it was done we had an assortment of small round bottles in lemon and orange flavors, tall blue bottles of sparkling water, green bottles of ginger beer and clear bottles of pink, blue, green and red naturally flavored drinks made the old fashioned way, with cane sugar. But we really did not appreciate these choices until the caterer came in and set-up the bar displaying all of our fun choices. It was a rainbow of shapes and colors. It drew comments and gazes. But best of all, the groom was so proud of what he had to offer his guests. I might say also, these non-alcoholic drinks were far more popular that either the beer or wine.

The lesson for us was learning the importance of offering mindful choices of non-alcoholic drinks for party guests. I will never stock a bar with just Coke and Diet Coke again. It needs to be interesting for all guests not just the alcohol drinking ones! Cheers!

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