Signature cocktails for your wedding
BY SYLVIA E. KING-COHEN
sylvia.king-cohen@newsday.com
January 6, 2009
Looking to make your wedding day even more memorable? Serve signature cocktails with eye-popping colors, zesty aromas and tantalizing flavors.

The new idea is catching on quickly with Long Island couples, several mixologists say.

"Signature drinks are associated with and remembered long after the event is over," says Debbie Markley, owner of The Party Elf in Islip. "Couples usually are looking for drinks with fun, flirty names and once you get their creative juices flowing, they run with the concept."

"A.J. Rathbun, of Seattle and author of "Luscious Liqueurs" (Harvard Common Press, 2008, $12.95) agreed, noting, "Having a signature drink instead of the same-old, same-old brings things to life."

It can also be less expensive than an open bar, because couples can set a limit and shave off costs by buying ingredients in bulk. Experts suggest that couples get creative and research their drinks on the web, the library and their local bar. They should also ask for a drink tasting.

Rathbun recommends doing four signature drinks: one should be sweet, the other not so sweet, one on the extreme end of the palate and at least one nonalcoholic choice.

Markley suggests couples start with a favorite spirit and work backward from there to build a drink.

Bari Congiusta, who works for the Nutty Irishman in Bay Shore, says couples can have fun creating their own drinks. Drinks can be a a certain color and have special flavors, he says. Fruits can be added or even edible flowers.

Newsday compiled a list of delicious signature cocktails and their recipes below.

SIDE CAR (Serves 1)
("Essential Cocktails," by Dale Degroff, Clarkson Potter, 2008, $35)

-Sugar, for frosting glass
-Orange slice, for frosting glass
-1 1/2 ounces Cognac
-3/4 ounce Cointreau
-3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
-Flamed orange peel for garnish

Prepare a sugar-crusted rim on a cocktail glass using the sugar and orange slice, chill the glass. Now, make the drink: shake the Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice with ice. Strain into the prepared glass, and garnish with the orange peel.

COPA VERDE (Serves 4)
("Essential Cocktails," by Dale Degroff, Clarkson Potter, 2008, $35)

-Chili powder, for frosting rim of the glass, optional
-Kosher salt, for frosting rim of the glass, optional
-Lime slice, for frosting rim of the glass, optional
-4 ounces Gran Centenario Plata tequila
-1/2 avocado, ripe but not mushy, peeled and coarsely chopped
-3 ounces agave nectar
-2 ounces fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice

If you want to frost the glasses with the chili-salt combination (or just salt, for the fainthearted), use the lime slice to moisten shot glasses, then roll in chili-salt.

In a blender, combine the tequila, avocado, agave nectar, and citrus juice with 3 ounces water. Blend until completely smooth without ice. When thoroughly puréed, pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to serve, transfer the mixture to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake very well. Strain into the 4 prepared shot glasses and serve immediately.

PASSIONFRUIT COLLINS (Serves 2)
("Cocktails: Shaken and Stirred," by Douglas Ankrah, Kyle Books, 2008, $16.95)

-2 highball glasses
-4 oz. (21/2 jiggers) vodka or gin
-2 oz. (1/4 cup) lemon juice
-Flesh and seeds of 2 ripe passionfruit
-11/2 tablespoons sugar syrup
-Club soda (to top up)
-Crushed ice
-Garnish: edible flowers and mint leaves

Method: Half fill a cocktail glass with crushed ice, and add the vodka or gin, lemon juice, passionfruit and sugar syrup. Stir well and split between the glasses. Top up with more ice almost to the rim, then with soda water. Garnish with a flower and a few mint leaves.

PARMA VIOLET (Serves 2)
("Cocktails: Shaken and Stirred," By Douglas Ankrah, Kyle Books, 2008, $16.95)

-2 martini glasses, preferably frozen, or old-fashioned glasses
-3 oz. (13/4 jiggers) Finlandia vodka
-1 oz. (3/4 jigger) Archer's peach schnapps
-3/4 oz. (1/2 jigger) violet liqueur (Crème Yvette)
-2 oz. (1/4 cup) lemon juice
-1 1/2 tablespoons sugar syrup
-12 drops of orange bitters
-Hard ice cubes
-Garnish: edible flowers

Method: Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fine-strain into the glasses and garnish.

THE ALEXANDER (Serves 1)
("Good Spirits," by A.J. Rathbun, © 2007, and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press.")

-Ice cubes
-1 ounce gin
-1 ounce crème de cacao
-1 ounce heavy cream
-Strawberry slices for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, crème de cacao and heavy cream. Shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a strawberry slice, or two if waiting on dessert. A Variation: The Brandy Alexander is made by just subbing brandy for the gin in the above recipe. If you substitute crème de menthe for cream de cacao in the above recipe, it becomes an Alexander's Sister. Skip the strawberry if going the sister route.

THE REBECCA (Serves 4)
("Party Drinks," by A.J. Rathbun, © 2004, and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press.)

The key to the Rebecca is the raspberry. Use raspberries that have been freshly picked, gently washed, carefully dried and quickly frozen. Once you freeze the raspberries, they'll keep for a while without losing sweetness.

-Ice cubes
-8 ounces vodka (if you happen to have raspberry-infused vodka, all the better)
-4 ounces Chambord or other raspberry liqueur
-Frozen raspberries
-8 ounces Champagne

Add some ice cubes to your favorite cocktail shaker. Then, with care, add the vodka. Add the Chambord. Shake. Shake. Shake. Place 4 or 5 frozen raspberries into each of 4 martini glasses. Strain the vodka and Chambord into the glasses over the raspberries. Top off each drink with 2 ounces Champagne. Pour slowly so the Champagne just rests on top of the vodka / Chambord mix. Note: Recipe is for a 5- to 6-ounce martini glass, but it can be adjusted accordingly if you have differently sized glasses. Just be sure and keep the ratio of 2 parts vodka to 1 part Chambord to 2 parts Champagne.

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