Jamie Walker, Diageo's Reserve Brand Ambassador talks to WeddingSutra on how to get your guests at the wedding and pre-wedding events to say Cheers!

Jamie Walker

What to Stock
Begin with the basics: different varieties of alcohol, like vodka, gin, tequila, rum, single malts and blended Scotch whiskies. You’ll want to offer red and white wine and adding a few sparkling wines will let you create cocktails with fizz; always a must-have.

If you have a special guest or two coming, then remember to stash away a few high-end malts, Blue Label or an 18 or 21 year old whisky.

Once the alcohol is sorted, make sure you have a mix of ingredients to balance out cocktails and mocktails. Some guest prefer them sweet, some prefer them sour – be prepared to cater to all tastes!

Bring in local flavours, fresh fruit, sodas, fresh lime juice, water, honey, sugar syrup, coconut milk, fruit juice, tea and spices. These take the bar to a whole new level. When I set up the bar at an Indian wedding I ensure I have ginger, cassia bark and citrus oil at hand. They can make a drink robust and intense!

Finally, while creating your stock, err on the side of excess – you do not want to run out of liquor midway through a party!

Jamie Walker

What to Serve
I prefer meeting the bride and groom personally to discuss their preferences. It is their big day and you want to make sure they enjoy it with absolutely no stress. We discuss the budget, the number of guests, how many of them drink alcohol, the number of parties and what the crowd favourites are…

It’s worth noting that the cocktail culture is exploding globally and well travelled young Indians know all the trends, are very well aware of their own likes and dislikes and what alcohol they prefer in their cocktails. Safe bets include classics like Pina Coladas and Cosmopolitans while whisky, rum, gin and vodka are versatile and lend themselves to many cocktails. And if you have wine, make sangria!

Jamie Walker

Jamie Walker

Where to find a great bartender
I always advise the wedding party to begin by looking for someone who is knowledgeable, well-spoken and polite – that is paramount!

There are several bar agencies, like Liquid Solutions, who provide end-to-end bar solutions and services. Often, in addition to a bartender, they also have a manager to oversee the operations. Click here to organise the best wedding party in town!

Never hesitate to ask a bartender for references. Bartending at a wedding is a massive responsibility and therefore you’re taking a risk. Like with any other job, it is okay to interview potentials and ask the people they have worked with – brides, grooms and wedding planners – for feedback on their work.

Jamie Walker

What makes a good bartender great
The basics:
· A bartender must know his glassware. This means knowing his martini glass from his champagne flute, the highball from the old-fashioned.
· He must know how to store ice correctly and what varieties of ice to have.
· He must know what kind of cocktails to mix depending on the weather.Innovation!
Maybe you’d like a signature cocktail at your do, or one that goes with a theme. I recently set up the bar at a wedding Jodhpur with a jasmine flower theme. So, I made cocktails with jasmine tea and used jasmine blossoms as a garnish to the drinks as well. Clever bartenders also play to the weather and time of year. For example, tall and fruity cocktails go well in summer and you always need chilled water handy.

Jamie Walker

Jamie Walker

Socially Responsible
Even if he gets busy, the bartender needs to be alert at all times. This means, even if it is a guest, he cannot serve six shots of whisky to an 18-year-old or maybe an older person who may have had one too many. This is to protect the hosts from embarrassment. He needs to be firm, offer the guest a glass of water and ask them to come back later. With the teenager, he will have to bring it to the attention of an older guest or family member in charge.

Jamie Walker

Keep all these aspects in mind and you can guarantee the guests and the bridal couple will all raise a toast to a stress-free event!

Photos Courtesy- Camera Crew

If you'd like some help in organizing the Best Wedding Party in Town, click here.

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