Weddings: Leianna & Morgan

Last night was Leianna & Morgan’s wedding at the Bybee Farms Blueberry Farm in North Bend, WA at the foot of Mt. Si. The wedding had a country theme and an awesome bluegrass/jazz band, not to mention a beautiful and very entertaining ceremony officiated by Leianna’s cousin Billy.

My role was to provide the cocktails for the reception. A couple months ago I did a tasting with Morgan & Leianna to choose the drinks that we would serve, and, as I wrote about previously, they selected the following cocktails:

  • Gin-Gin Mule
  • Blue Lavender
  • Mai Tai
  • TBD Whiskey Punch
  • Dark & Stormy

Details for each of these can be found below.

My plan for the Gin-Gin Mule was to use this recipe from Epicurious, but I realized that muddling mint in bulk for this quantity of drinks was going to be a lot of work and probably wouldn’t give a consistent result across the entire batch of drinks. Raymond Sullivan, a bartender at Singlebarrel in San Jose, suggested the idea of using a minted simple syrup instead of muddling mint. I made a minted simple syrup using this recipe, and it worked fantastically. It also made it very easy to mix an additional batch of Gin-Gin Mules when the initial batch ran out relatively early in the wedding.

A similar issue came up with the Blueberry Lavender cocktail, which was my only original cocktail on the menu. The original recipe for this drink called for muddling 8 blueberries, which would have been even more difficult to do consistently and in bulk for the number of drinks that we needed to make. Instead, I chose to add blueberries to the lavender simple syrup that was already used in this drink. I loosely based my approach on this recipe, however I added a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers and I only simmered the syrup for 5 minutes instead of 15 minutes. I used the finest strainer that I could find to remove the solids from the syrup before bottling, but blueberry seeds are very fine and many of them ended up in the syrup. I don’t think this hurt the syrup too much, but next time (and if I have more time) I would like to strain the syrup through cheesecloth or some finer strainer to eliminate as many seeds as possible. The recipe for the new Blueberry Lavender is:

Blue Lavender

1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Blueberry Lavender Syrup
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake and strain. Garnish with a Blueberry.

Blueberry Lavender Syrup

1 cup Blueberries (smashed)
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
1 tablespoon Lavender

Combine all in saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.

This new formulation resulted in a much stronger blueberry flavor in the drink, which I think was a great improvement.

The Mai Tai has many formulations. Mine is based on the recipe included in the book Speakeasy by the founders of the Employee’s Only bar in New York City, which is based on Trader Vic’s original recipe and calls for 1.5 oz rum, 0.75 oz orgeat, orange curaçao, and 1 oz of lime juice. My version has a slight variation; instead of 1.5 oz of 10 cane rum, I use 0.75 oz each of Appleton VX rum and St. James Rhum Agricole.

For the Whiskey Punch, I chose to create a variation of the Royal Hibernian Punch from David Wondrich’s book, Punch. The original formulation for this punch calls for Madeira, however I used a Tawny Port instead, and I also created a double serving with six lemons in the oleo saccharum instead of 3. I had made this punch once before with the same variation and found it quite good. While this punch was decent, I think that next time I would use more lemons and sugar, because I felt the final version was not quite sweet enough. It may be that the Sandeman port wine that I used this time was not as sweet as the Taylor Fladgate 10 year Tawny port that I used last time. It may also be that we were not quite as careful about the amount of water used to dilute the punch and used a bit too much.

The Dark & Stormy recipe was a simple combination of Gosling’s Rum and Fever Tree Ginger Beer (the same ginger beer that was used for the Gin-Gin Mule above).  Some recipes also call for lime juice, but we didn’t use any in this formulation for simplicity.

The biggest pain of the entire process was individually bottling the Mai Tai and Blueberry Lavender cocktails (see the picture above), which in retrospect seemed completely unnecessary. In the future, I think that we will only individually bottle cocktails if there will not be a bartender present. When there is, using larger bottles from which many servings can be poured directly will make everything much simpler to prepare, although perhaps not quite as pretty to display.

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