The Perfect Cocktail Guide for Weddings
By Raashka Mannie

06 August 2019

Alcohol is the great social lubricant and wedding days are no exception. With so much celebration and love to go around, there’s all the more reason to raise a glass.

Your wedding day will most likely involve any number of beverages, from pretty cocktails to an elegant selection of wines. Catering drinks to the theme of your wedding, as well as your personal style, can be oodles of fun, especially when you have expert advice to base your ideas around. Striking the balance between moderation and celebration can be the key to making your big day unforgettable for all the right reasons. We talk to Frankie of Black Pineapple, the drink and beverage connoisseurs, for some tips and tricks when it comes to finding a healthy balance of gin and tonic at weddings.

Image by Black Pineapple

The Ceremony

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not uncommon for wedding day celebrations to be spread over many hours, from lunchtime deep into the night, often starting in the very heat of the day. For this reason, I suggest that you offer water infused with fresh citrus on arrival, plus a delicious non-alcoholic option on arrival, and save the first full-strength drink till after the ceremony is complete.

If you really would like to have an alcoholic option, then serve lower-strength wines, such as prosecco, at the start of the reception. It may seem like that wouldn’t amount to much, but you’d really be amazed how a couple of percentage of alcohol in any drink adds up over time.

Image by Black Pineapple

The Reception

The way your guests drink at the reception builds the foundation for the whole day, essentially setting the tone. The right drinking path involves some careful planning and steering, but is oh-so achievable. Pre-prepare and batch light, bright mixed drinks designed to refresh and revive. Think Spritzes, Collins’ and white Sangria. Additionally, don’t let people pour their own spirit-based drinks. Pre-batching allows you to be in control of how much alcohol is in there.

Opt for a beautiful glass dispenser filled with half-strength gin and premium tonic topped with soda and finished with lemons and cucumber that will refresh and delight. It looks classy because it is classy, which is exactly the kind of message you want your wedding to be sending.

Remember to keep people hydrated, too! Sometimes people reach for an alcoholic drink when really they just need refreshment. Help keep everyone in the game with well-placed water stations kept filled with plenty of ice, water, seasonal fruit and herbs like thyme and sage (fresh green herbs like basil and mint will go deteriorate rapidly in liquid so avoid!).

Finally, ensure that you have mid-strength and 0.0% beer available at all times. The trend towards moderation means we’re now spoiled for choice with great tasting beers that don’t compromise on flavour, so there are endless options for you to pick from. In the end, people will care more about whether it tastes good rather than whether it’s strongly alcoholic.

Image by Black Pineapple

Dinner and Speeches

The traditional combination of endless bottles of wine, the nervousness that comes with meeting new people, and listening to back-to-back speeches has caused many a dinner table to over-consume. Thankfully, there are ways to circumvent this. Make sure everyone makes it to the first dance in great shape by, firstly, considering your seating plan. Do you really want to put all your party-party friends together at the back of the room? All it takes is some creative shuffling to have everyone well-behaved for the day.

Secondly, keep the iced water flowing. This sounds obvious but can make a huge difference to the outcome for your guests. Third, it’s vital to select low(er) strength wines for the table. The difference between a 12% and 15% Chardonnay is massive over the course of several hours.

Finally, be strategic about how much wine is available throughout your wedding day. Having huge amounts of open wine on the tables at all times will lead to faster consumption as well as large amounts of wastage. Slowing down the replenishing of wine just a little will ensure that open bottles are shared and drunk whilst subtly helping your guests ease back.

Image by Black Pineapple

Party Time

The music is cranking and the dance floor is filling up fast. There are some final things to consider to help everyone reach the finish line in fine form. For instance, we are now in the Espresso Martini Zone, New Zealand’s favourite wedding party-starter. Go for it and get some shaken up, as the caffeine hit will help revive the weary. Don’t go too early though – Espresso Martinis are an absolute party signifier and once the bung has popped, it’s hard to put back.

If serving mixed drinks, have virgin versions of the same drink available and don’t be afraid to substitute one for the other to help more buoyant guests stay afloat. Finally, food now comes back into play. Choose carb-heavy options to help slow down the symptoms of over-effervescence, because who can really say no to another tray of bruschetta and mozzarella?

With all of this in mind, it’s safe to say that you made it, and so did your guests! After this, I’d say it’s time to send everyone home, crack open a bottle of vintage champagne and toast yourselves, just the two of you.

Image by Black Pineapple

Wedding Drink Inspiration

With Black Pineapple


Elderflower Fizz – makes 1 litre

  • 150ml Elderflower syrup / cordial – We love Caterbury-based Aroha
  • 100ml Freshly pressed lime juice
  • 50ml Freshly pressed lemon juice
  • 300ml Apple juice
  • 400ml Soda water

Serve with plenty of ice, lime & lemon wheels & mint to finish



White Sangria – makes 1 litre

  • 250ml Pinot Gris
  • 250ml Medium dry Riesling
  • 150ml Grape juice
  • 100ml Freshly pressed lemon juice
  • 250ml Soda water

Garnish with lemon wheels, cut grapes & fresh thyme



Black Pineapple Espresso Martini – makes 2 serves

  • 60ml Premium Vodka
  • 60ml Fresh espresso coffee
  • 30ml Coffee Liqueur (we love NZ coffee liqueur Quick Brown Fox)

Shake super hard and fine strain straight up into a coupette. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg & serve.

To find out more from Black Pineapple, check out their profile here.