Even though we tend to think cash bars are faux pas at weddings, we do know they CAN cause a dent in your wedding budget if you’re not careful. So what’s the best way to save while still providing your guests with top-shelf experience? Besides looking for a wedding venue that allows you to BYOB (you can use our handy wedding alcohol calculator to determine how much alcohol you’ll need to buy in that case), being selective with the type of alcohol you serve will help you keep your spirit costs to a minimum. To help you decide, we spoke to Jonathan Rodriguez—bar manager at W South Beach’s Living Room—for his expert tips on how you can save money and keep the drinks flowing on your big day.
By opting for an open bar, you’re ensuring that the bar at your reception will be fully stocked — but it’s also important how you stock it. Rodriguez is a fan of well-known brands that mix well and still taste great without breaking the bank. Here are a few of his favorite selections:
Gin: Tanqueray ($30)
“Tanqueray is a well-known brand that is cheaper than Hendricks and Bombay. It’s best for simple cocktails, like a Gin & Tonic or Negroni,” says Rodriguez.
Tequila: Tequila Espolón ($25)
“Tequila Espolón is a great value brand, where even the reposado is cheaper than some blanco tequilas,” says Rodriguez. “Besides, shots, it makes good Palomas and Margaritas.”
Rum: Ron Barceló’s Dark Series ($23) and Ron Barceló Grand Platinum ($20)
“Ron Barceló Dark series is a premium rum. It’s really smooth and perfect for a vintage cocktail (like a Highball or Old Fashioned) or on the rocks,” says Rodriguez. “For cocktails, use the Platinum Barceló.”
Vodka: Tito’s Vodka ($20)
Rodriguez’s favorite vodka for your money? Tito’s. “It mixes well with just about anything. In a cocktail, Moscow Mule is best.”
You don’t have to pick the beverage provider’s top-tier or premium package that includes every spirit under the sun. Instead, Rodriguez recommends that you and your S.O. create two signature cocktails (one for you, one for them).
“Featuring two cocktails that might be favorites of the wedding couple gives a personal touch while controlling what spirits and mixers you need,” he said, adding that for guests who don’t drink cocktails, you’ll definitely want a beer and wine alternative.
Looking for inspiration when it comes to your signature cocktail? Consider one of Rodriguez’s original recipes below.