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Crafting a Signature Cocktail for your Event

February 28, 2018

We firmly believe that the key to creating a memorable experience for your guests is thoughtful attention to detail. Whether entertaining clients or celebrating another year of success with employees, few things are as enjoyable as an elegant evening featuring distinctive cocktails. At Keeneland, we take pride in that our corporate events are among our most popular social gatherings. And what better way to elevate your next event than to feature a few signature cocktails!

Here are a few helpful tips:

Consider Locale

Keep in mind the location of your event when selecting your signature cocktail. Traditions run strong and deep in the South, and some states have been associated with signature cocktails for years! For example, folks in Georgia are known to sip a Scarlet O’Hara, Rum Runners are a Floridian favorite, and you can always bet on a Kentuckian enjoying a refreshing Mint Julep. Incorporating a local cocktail into your event can be a conversation starter and a fun way for first-time visitors to learn about the culture and history of the location.

Tie in a Color/Theme

Another reason we love signature cocktails is that they are so versatile. Do you have a theme or color palette for your event? If so, choose a cocktail that ties everything together. Regardless of color or season, your cocktail options are endless! We have included a few of our favorite seasonal options below:

  • Spring: Spring Spritzer, White Cucumber Sangria, Lavender Lemonade
  • Summer: Buffalo Bowtie, Mojito Cooler, Watermelon Basil Margarita
  • Fall: Brown Sugar Old Fashioned, Kissed Caramel Apple Punch, Pumpkin Spice White Russian
  • Winter: Hazelnut Crème Cafe, Gingerbread Martini, Vanilla Hot Toddy

Keeneland craft cocktail

Think Outside the Beverage Box

Over the last few years, we’ve noticed that bartenders have been stepping out of the box, integrating natural elements into their cocktails to enhance the taste and experience and bring pops of color as well. We love how The Spruce touches on this creative element and its mixologist, Humberto Marques explains, “what’s happening in the bar these days is that we’re borrowing from the kitchen – not just in technique, but in ingredients.” Spices and fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, lavender and eucalyptus have all become popular embellishments to cocktails around the world.

Keeneland recently brought the kitchen into the bar at a Fall event with well-known magazine Garden & Gun. The team created a set of three Patron-inspired cocktails – the Blood Orange Margarita, Hazelnut Café Crème and an Arugula Shooter, an experiential drink that was blended together in front of guests from fresh ingredients.

Ask Your Caterer

If you love the idea of a signature cocktail but need help with ideas to personalize it to your event, use your caterer as a resource! At Keeneland, our clients frequently request a particular ingredient or color for their special cocktail. Leave it to us to “mix things up” and bring your vision to life! Keeneland’s Beverage Director Fran Stalcup has the expertise and creativity to tailor the right cocktail for your event. One of our annual events, Toys for Tots presented by Lexus, worked with Fran to create the Toy-Tini – a cocktail that was not only bright red to bring in the holiday spirit, but tied in the theme of the evening as well.  

Balance is important. Try to choose a beverage that you enjoy, but don’t choose something so eccentric that none of your guests would want to try it.

As with any event decision, Fran recommends that you consider your guests in selecting the specialty cocktail you’d like to serve. “Balance is important. Try to choose a beverage that you enjoy, but don’t choose something so eccentric that none of your guests would want to try it.”

Consider Budget

Incorporating signature cocktails into your bar selections also is a way to reduce beverage expenses. Organizations often host a “limited bar” which offers beer, wine and a signature cocktail. This alternative allows guests to enjoy themselves without having to pay for their beverages. We also suggest limiting the selection to one or two cocktails; things could get complicated for your bartenders and guests should you choose to have more!

A Few of our Favorites

Keeneland Hospitality’s Fran Stalcup shares a few recipes to allow you to taste test these signature cocktails at home!

Lavender-Thyme Lemonade

  • 1.5 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  • 1 oz Thyme-Infused Simple Syrup
  • 4 oz Simply Lemonade
  • Garnish with Lemon Round/Thyme

Keeneland craft cocktail

Buffalo Bow Tie

  • 1.5 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • 1 oz White Peach Syrup
  • Pour over ice and top with Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with Lime bow tie

Keeneland craft cocktail