My Favorite Things-Number Two, Craft Cocktails


So, as many of you know from reading my first blog, my goal each post is to talk about my favorite things each week in event planning. This week I am talking about my new obsession, craft cocktails! My mission is always to think out of the box, tie in a good theme and create a unique experience for guests at any of my events. Lots of parties feature beer, wine and a signature cocktail but did you know you can even take it up a notch with specialty craft cocktails?

Branden Beasley of Bar Experience is my go-to mixologist for any occasion because his mouth watering cocktails and warm personality are a winning combination in my book!! Here is my interview with Branden from Bar Xperience.

What is a craft cocktail?
According to Branden, “Craft cocktails can be divided up into classic categories that have been copied throughout and used as a foundation for all the various spinoffs. These categories include: Sours, Collins, Mules, Toddies, Juleps, Old Fashions, Smashes, Daisies, Cobblers, improved all-spirit cocktails (Manhattans/Martinis), and Rickies, just to name a few. Just like with clothes, music, and other cultural trends, the cocktail industry enjoys trends of style, materials, and presentation of its own.”

What unique flair do you bring to your cocktails?
When I asked Branden what unique flair he brings to his cocktails he told me that “his extensive knowledge of cocktail design, paired with an ability to make approachable cocktails for the everyday man and woman, while doing so in a cost effective non-pretentious manner is a combination that my guests truly enjoy.” Branden’s creative spirit and creation of fun flavor profiles, unique presentations, custom cocktail names, and overall playful spirit is what guests always walk away remembering. “The silver lining in working with me is that I rely on a scientific understanding of how alcohol comes to be, the rich history of cocktails and how that have been developed throughout history, and a chef inspired approach to creating a culinary experience in a glass,” he said.

What’s your favorite ingredient?
I asked Branden what his favorite ingredients were in his customized cocktail creations and he explained that it’s hard to focus on just one, as he personally believes that the secret to a great cocktail is balance. “Balance is my secret weapon. A great chef is one that can take any ingredient, whether he/she prefers it or not, and craft it into something special. I go through different phases where I gravitate towards one spirit or another, and I also tend to use reoccurring themes in my beverages for a time until I get bored.” Right now, it’s fair to say that he is on a gin kick, and some of his favorite ingredients are floral…. such as hibiscus, rose, and lavender.

How do craft cocktails add to any party?
For starters, Branden says it streamlines the entire experience for guests, instead of a barrage of choices at the bar. “Most people cobble together a bunch of different liquors, toss a bunch of mixers on the table, and expect people to be able to figure out what they want. By having a thoughtful pre-planned craft cocktail menu, you can streamline the ingredients and mixers that you need and give your guests an easier decision to make.” Branden loves the way craft cocktails elevate any event to new heights because “it feels classy and special to have cocktails that are predesigned and unique to your party. Guests walk away with a conversation piece, something learned, a custom experience, and most importantly: a desire for more.”

How can someone have craft cocktails on a budget?
Most people who are trying to stay within a certain budget worry that they are limited to selections of beer and wine to stay in their budget, but surprisingly if you plan accordingly you can incorporate some of these incredible concoctions into your event for less than you might imagine! One way to achieve this is by significantly streamlining options and focusing on just a few craft cocktail options. With less ingredients to make available, it can result in significant savings, as you don’t have leftover products after the party. When the party features a select number of craft cocktail selections while also balancing a broad enough spectrum of drinks for everybody, you can create a custom experience for any budget. Branden also always offers his clients exceptional service including a variety of overstock syrups, ingredients, and mixers that can be delivered into great cocktail options for a discount.

How can you tie your cocktails into a theme?
Themes are my jam, so of course I would be remiss if I didn’t ask Branden how he ties his craft cocktails into a themed party! “I have, in the past, tied entire cocktail menus into awesome themes based on color, historical era, certain cities, certain cultures, and even something as spontaneous as a train theme. There’s no limit to what we can do to create a themed experience that your guests will be sure to rave about. I especially love taking the preferences of the hosts, for example: a bride and groom, and name the cocktails after the people involved. This is almost my favorite part!”

What ingredient is your secret weapon?
Branden’s cocktails never go unfinished with the perfect garnish, glassware, and presentation. “Presentation and perception is just as important as the taste, I have found. I take extensive time in my own kitchen to experiment with colors, glassware styles, creative garnishes, textures, etc. This ensures that every cocktail looks as good as it tastes!”

Call me today at (703) 851-5524 for information on having these crowd favorite craft cocktails at your next event!

Ari Jones