{The Ace 8 - The Art of a Signature Cocktail}

Having spent the majority of my post college years both behind the bar and sitting at one, you can say that I have had my fair share of time creating cocktails. One of my favorite things is sitting down at a bar, looking over their stock, and mixing a little of this and a little of that in my head, until I figure out what the perfect drink is for the mood I am in! I think this is an AMAZING way to get creative when it comes to your wedding, and usually a good way to get your fiancé involved in some of the planning as well. Coming up with a drink that personifies you as a couple, or two drinks that show off your individuality is only the beginning! You can come up with a fun name that incorporates your first or last name and the type of drink it is to make it more specific to your relationship and your special day. This is also a great opportunity to relax a little and have some fun during the often stressful time of planning your wedding. Call your bridesmaids and groomsmen, get out the shakers, and make sure you have plenty of ice in the freezer for a night of fun taste testing the drink options for the big day. I guarantee it will not only be a hit at your wedding, but your friends will expect it every time you hang out and reminisce about the good ol’ days leading up to the wedding, and you'll have a ton of fun in the process. 

:: clockwise from the left ::

1. Adult Peach Iced Tea -  This twist on a child hood favorite, the Arnold Palmer, will not only have your friends asking for more, but it’s a perfectly refreshing drink for a warm spring/summer day. Absolut came out with a line of vodka’s that embody different regions, and the Wild Tea/St. Germain Bostonian mix is amazing. I am OBSESSED with St. Germain, an elderflower liquor, and the fact that it’s in the vodka is unbelievable, so I like to add just a little more to my spiked peach tea to get the full flavor. You can play around with the amount of vodka/St. Germain to see what works best for you, and if St. Germain isn't your favorite, you can always sub the Absolut out for Firefly, or another Iced Tea flavored vodka. I personally like to add peach nectar as the peach flavoring to the drink, opposed to peach schnapps or vodka, because it gives a little more of a natural sweetener to the drink. You can always opt for a different juice flavor – pomegranate, raspberry, strawberry, etc – but this is my favorite of this mixture by far. Top the drink off with a mix of unsweetened iced tea and fresh lemonade and add some fresh fruit as a garnish, and that’s all you’ll need to complete this drink.

2. Sweet & Spicy Margarita -  This is a FAVORITE among the ACE staff. Infusing tequila, or vodka even, is a really easy way to add some natural flavor to one of your already favorite liquors. Sliced jalapenos submerged in tequila is just the start to creating one of the most delicious drinks. The flavor that you get from the jalapenos is really quite spicy, so the next step is to add a juice of some sort. You definitely want something sweeter, like a passion fruit juice, blood orange or a mango juice, to offset the spice of the tequila. Shake equal parts of the two up, and serve over ice with a salt rimed glass and an orange slice or lime for the perfect sweet and spicy cocktail for your friends and family.

3.Tequila/Champagne Sparkler - I know, I know, you think I’m insane, but if you like both of these things, you will LOVE this refreshing cocktail. One of my best friends introduced me to this unique combination when we were on vacation, and I swear, it was love at first sip. Start with your favorite tequila and add a little bit of agave nectar to sweeten it up. Muddle some limes and add just a hint of extra lime juice and then shake it until your hands are frozen. Pour it into a martini glass, top it with champagne and garnish it with a slice of lime and you’re ready for a party you’ll never forget.

4. Summer Sangria - This is one of my go-to party drinks. It’s ALWAYS a hit and tends to be the first thing to go when I make it for my friends and family. When it comes to the liquor I use, I try to stick to 3 main ingredients. Start by picking your wine of choice, a sweet white, a dry rose, or even a nice light red wine. Then add some peach or raspberry vodka, and you’ll top it off with a nice, light  sparkling rose. Now for the fruit! I typically soak the fresh peaches overnight in the vodka I am going to use, to let them really have some fun. I like to use a lot of fresh summer fruit like strawberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, nectarines and even sometimes plums and apples. Since this drink is always such a party pleader, you might want to offer this during the cocktail hour portion of your reception only. Remember, you can always make a fun sangria any time of the year!

5. French 75 "ish" - One night while I was working, I had a customer ask me to make him something fun and different, so I asked him give me a few of his favorite drinks. He told me that he loved a traditional French 75, but he had stumbled upon a slightly different version of the drink. He continued to tell me that when he was at home, he didn't have simple syrup to add to the gin, so he substituted agave, and instead of lemon juice he added lime juice. As he was shaking it up, he decided to add a little bit of his favorite liquor, which happens to be St. Germain, and then he proceeded to top it off with champagne. After talking about it, he decided that was what he wanted, so I made it for him, and of course had to make myself a little extra, and sure enough it was GREAT. Don’t be scared to try something different than what you’re used to. If you think about it, so many of the things we like could be combined together to make something we love, and liquors could be the same!

6. Spiked Cider - As you can imagine, this is the quint essential adult drink for Autumn in New England. I wasn't specific in the type of cider, seeing as you can make an apple cider, or an apple/pumpkin cider, but either way, you’ll warm your guests right up and get their blood flowing. Adding a little of your favorite flavored or traditional bourbon or whiskey to a nice warm cup of cider, with just a hint of cinnamon, and you'll not only make your friends and family happy, but you'll keep yourselves nice and warm on those often chilly fall nights. 

7. Blood Orange Bourbon - I have to be honest with you guys, but I am not a bourbon fan, so I wanted to look for a fun and different bourbon drink you could share with your guests. I know a classic Manhattan or Old Fashioned could be a great way to go, but the combination of blood orange and bourbon sounds like something I might even try! Start with some freshly squeezed blood orange juice, add your bourbon of choice, a splash of bitters and finish it off with some sparkling water and a sprig of fresh mint and here you have it. I think when someone really likes a specific bourbon or whiskey, they often drink it neat, so when creating a specialty cocktail, you want to try and stick to minimal ingredients as well as ingredients that really would be a subtle compliment to a powerful liquor. 

8. The Candy Bar - This is my go to end of the night drink, so why not share it with your family and friends. Sometimes, having a specialty drink presented towards the second half of the reception is a good way to get your guests attention after a little bit of dancing, and insure that they will keep dancing until the DJ plays his last song. I stumbled upon this drink one night when I was out with friends and really was in the mood for something sweet, but didn't want dessert, so ladies and gentlemen, I give you the candy bar cocktail. This drink is equal parts of the following ingredients: vanilla vodka, Baileys, Kahlua, Malibu and Butterscotch schnapps. Shake them all together until it's a mix of frothy goodness and it becomes a liquid candy bar. This is nice to serve around the same time as dessert, and you can even serve it as a shot in a little chocolate shot glass for some additional fun for your guests. 

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