Destination I Do
Thursday, October 22, 2009

Signature Destination Wedding Cocktails

Words by Jennifer Stein
Words by Autumn Millhouse

In pursuit of the best signature cocktail for a destination wedding, we recruited the award-winning Napa Valley Charbay Distillery. Popular for their fresh picked fruit flavored vodkas, Charbay produces an impressive collection of spirits, ranging from the newly launched tequila Blanco to Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum and Pilsner Whiskey.

Located near the top of Spring Mountain in St. Helena, the Charbay Vodka line started 12 years ago by Marko Karakasevic, who’s been "Distillin' and Chilin' since 1983". Interestingly, the birth place of Charbay Vodka is Tra Vigne, back in 1997 when Marko was “pulling a shift at the bar” he noticed that the only flavored vodkas in the market (all 2 of them) were not made with fresh fruit, but instead “natural flavors.” The idea struck, and that November, he picked organically grown Meyer lemons from a Napa Valley grower to make Charbay’s first Vodka, Meyer Lemon. The rest is a happily-ever-after tale of the cocktail kind; with cocktail recipes in Bon Appetite Magazine, sales across the nation increasing monthly and a continuous launch of new products Charbay continues to make Napa Valley a hedonistic paradise.

Marko has personal experience creating a signature cocktail for weddings when he created and poured a special vodka concoction for Michael Chirarello’s wedding years ago. Since then, he implemented his own signature cocktail last year at his wedding to his beautiful wife Jennie. Named ‘The 8 Year Kiss,’ a reflection of their eight-year courtship was made with Charbay Raspberry Vodka, fresh raspberries, simple syrup, Odwalla lemonade shaken, served over ice and garnished with a few more raspberries.

Personalize your wedding by taking into consideration the theme, time of the year and wedding colors and location. Other entertaining ideas are to use a signature cocktail to honor your groom’s heritage, generate excitement about your honeymoon or pay homage to your first kiss.

No matter the twist on your cocktail, be creative, happily serve thirsty guests and make memories using a signature cocktail.

Two crowd pleasing cocktails Marko recommends are –

1 1/2 oz. Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum
1 oz. Passion Syrup*
1 1/2 oz. Lime Sour*
1 oz. Soda Water
Handful of Mint
Combine all ingredients in a Shaker and Shake. Note: Please do not muddle—shaking the
mint with the ice does it.
(Created by Milton Bland of Piatti Restaurant, Sonoma)
*Passion Syrup - Equal Parts Perfect Puree Passion fruit Concentrate and Simple Syrup
*Lime Sour - Equal Parts Lime and Simple Syrup

1.5 oz. CHARBAY Pomegranate Vodka
1/2 oz. cranberry juice
1/2 oz. Cointreau
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake until frosty and strain into a martini glass; add a squeeze of lemon & garnish with a lemon wheel

For more on Autumn Millhouse and her book Romantic Napa Valley, An Insider's Guide for Couples, click here.
Autumn Millhouse is an award-winning travel writer who specializes in wine, food and romantic getaways. She is also an international trekker who has wined and dined across the globe from Barcelona to Beijing . A self-proclaimed “hopeless-romantic” and author of Romantic Napa Valley: An Insider’s Guide for Couples, Autumn also has a bi-monthly column called Love Vines published in Napa Valley Life Magazine. She resides in Napa Valley where she cultivates her wine and food relationships with top chefs, winemakers and a slew of other foodies. Besides, sniffing, swirling and sipping wine daily, Autumn is currently working on her next travel book Romantic Sonoma Valley: An Insider’s Guide for Couples.

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