“At our winery, we adapt to the tastes of our audience and explore flavors that offer something new and exciting.”
– John Wright, Sanctuary Vineyards, the Outer Banks
If spirits and alcohol are a part in your reception bar set up, include some regional distilleries, wineries and breweries to support the Southern theme.
Let’s not forget champagnes and sparkling wines that can be served at the start of the evening or for that special toast.
In the South, we love our traditions, especially when it comes to spirits. Before those “I Do’s,” bury a bottle of bourbon together exactly one month before the nuptials (full bottle, cap down) to ensure blue skies on your wedding day. While bourbons and whiskeys are still the rage (with Mint Juleps a perennial favorite;) other regional spirits, wines, and beers are joining them center stage.
Your wedding reception can be the entertainment platform for a tasting menu of favorite Virginia and North Carolina tipples. If you want to get something brewing, offer beer flights curated from local breweries including O’Connor Brewing Co. and Smartmouth Brewing Co. Guests will love tasting a full range of options that create a celebratory experience.
Planning is key. Arranging a libation tasting with your caterer or winery is as vital as tasting the edibles. For wine connoisseurs, offer a sipping menu at a separate bar where guests learn and enjoy the selection at their leisure. “Virginia and North Carolina wines aren’t held down by tradition,” notes John Wright from Sanctuary Vineyards in the Outer Banks. “At our winery, we can adapt to the tastes of our audience and really explore flavors that offer something new and exciting.”
For couples celebrating their wedding reception at the Williamsburg Winery, there is onsite wine tastings prior to the big day. They suggest coming in 60-90 days ahead with an open mind and enjoying the process of selecting wines they would like guests to experience at the wedding.
Let’s not forget champagnes and sparkling wines, the proverbial bubbly of choice for weddings. There are a number of Virginian wineries like Thibaut-Janisson out of Charlottesville that produce Virginia FIZZ, a sparkling wine used in craft cocktails; and Blanc de Chardonnay which can be served at the start of the evening or for that special toast.
If spirits are a part in your signature cocktail and bar set up, include some regional distilleries to support the southern theme. One favorite is Cirrus, a Richmond-based vodka maker that produces an amazingly smooth product that compliments any flavor profile. Balance it with southern-based bourbons, whiskeys and regionally derived bitters as popular additions to your bar stock of sips and have fun exploring all the options crafted from your state.
make it yo’self
An old-fashioned mint julep never disappoints. This South Louisiana version offers something for everyone. According to renown chef Sydney Meers of Stove Restaurant, traditionally mint and sugar cubes were put in milk cartons filled with water and frozen. They floated in the Julep bowl to make it icy cold; then slowly melted, giving it an extra sweet flavor:
South Louisiana Mint Julep, Serves 15
1/2 cup of water
2/3 cup of sugar
A fifth of bourbon
120 mint leaves ruffed up
Club soda, to taste
- Boil water and sugar to make simple syrup. (Bring water and sugar to rolling boil, reduce heat to simmer.)
- Add mint leaves and then let simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool.
- Next, add the bourbon. Place in freezer over night or until mixture becomes a slush.
- Crush ice, preferably snow ball ice which most blenders can produce. Fill glass with ice, add one fresh mint leaf, fill glass with mint julep mix.
Story by Alisa von Dobeneck