Cocktail Testing 101: Recipes and Friends

Instead of doing a traditional full bar at our wedding, and instead of opting to do just beer and wine, Rob and I decided that we'd have beer, wine, champagne, two signature cocktails, and a frozen lemonade station with empty shot glasses along the side, waiting to be filled with booze if hard lemonade is your thing. 

Rob chose the Old Fashioned as his signature drink, a bourbon-heavy cocktail; so I was tasked with finding the perfect vodka drink. Because if you're going to spike your frozen lemonade at our wedding, it's going to be with either bourbon or vodka, right? Right. So the real question is this: Rosemary Pear, Lavender, or Cucumber Mint? Last weekend, I made a shopping list, waited for


to arrive, and invited a few other friends over for a cocktail testing/tasting party.

Note: the recipes you are about to encounter are not even a little bit Paleo. I'm not even a little bit sorry.

The Rosemary Pear Martini

I thought this one was going to be my favorite, and it ended up being my least favorite. It felt more autumnal than springy to me, which is fine, but probably not for our May wedding. Melissa made some pear puree from scratch and it was delicious, but then I tried the cocktail again the next day with store-bought pear puree and I liked it a bit better. It was a little lighter and sweeter, which made it less Christmas-y. Either way was good, it just depends on the event and the time of year, I think. Regardless, it made a damn beautiful drink, and I do love rosemary.

For the Rosemary Pear Martini:


Recipe Inspiration


Two ounces of vodka

Two stems of fresh rosemary

1/4 ounce simple syrup

(We made our own--just mix equal parts sugar and hot water)

1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

3/4 ounce pear puree

The Cucumber Mint Martini



is a springy drink. It was light and fresh and I drank it in about three gulps. Probably a little dangerous to be serving all night, but it just felt right! There's a lot of


in it once you drink all the liquid, but since I'm someone who prefers her cocktails to come with more of a snack than a simple garnish, it worked for me. And everyone loved it. We had some more.

For the Cucumber Mint Martini



Recipe Inspiration


Two ounces of vodka

One ounce simple syrup

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

Three slices of fresh cucumber, muddled

A couple of leaves of fresh mint

The Lavender Collins

This was a favorite--it was delicious and just beautiful, but I don't think it's going to work for the wedding because it's just really expensive to make. First of all, you have to make lavender simple syrup, which totally delighted me on a small scale, but I don't think it's feasible in any way to make for 150+ people. Melissa and I decided that it would be perfect for a bridal shower, so we won't have to totally abandon the recipe.

For the Lavender Collins



Recipe Inspiration


One and a half ounces vodka

3/4 ounce lavender simple syrup

(Just add a few sprigs of fresh lavender or two tablespoons of dried to your simple syrup on the stove)

1/4 ounce Chambord

3/4 ounce lemon juice

Soda water to top it off 

I mentioned that I invited some friends over. There were a lot of cocktails to be drunk.

Tony is one of the most handsome men I know, and I had the pleasure of becoming friends with him after meeting him through his boyfriend Matt, my former coworker. He's hilarious and genuine and I felt honored to become more than just an acquaintance of his over the last year. It's good to have a friend like Tony.

Matt is smart and handy and literally knows something about everything without being a know-it-all. When I said, "Where the hell am I supposed to find lavender in Roanoke?" he said, "I have some." Because he grew it. Because gardening and building fences and driving trucks and motorcycles are things that he does when he's not fixing things and cooking delicious food or making me laugh until I cry. I definitely miss seeing him every day at work. It's good to have a friend like Matt.

So, what do you think? I'm going to make them all for Rob soon and find out his favorites.

If you were at my wedding next spring, which one of these cocktails would you want to drink?

Check out Melissa's post on our cocktail adventures