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Special Events Feature Cocktail Couture

Special Events Feature Cocktail Couture

Sick of signature martinis? Tough luck — they're sticking around. Wondering if absinthe will be the victim of its own uber-trendiness? Unlikely.

Here, cocktail connoisseurs tell us how they dress up drinks, both new and old, with twists well beyond lemon peel.


We've all eaten wedding cake, but how many have sipped it? Hilton Americas-Houston gives guests that opportunity with a martini emulating “a sweet, fruity slice of wedding cake,” says public relations manager Tere Perry. “The sugared rim acts as the frosting on this drinkable slice of cake.”

The cocktail, served recently at a 1,200-guest wedding, demonstrates a movement to mimic favorite desserts in drink form, Perry notes. For example, the Hilton's chocolate whip martini offers a liquid tiramisu experience with vanilla vodka, chocolate milk, chilled coffee and whipped cream dusted with cocoa.

Wedding Cake Martini

2 ounces vanilla vodka
2 ounces pineapple juice
2 ounces sweet-and-sour

Shake vigorously over ice. Strain and pour into a raw sugar-rimmed martini glass.

‘G’ IS FOR …

The holidays served as muse to “The Liquid Chef” Junior Merino, a professional drink developer and cocktail caterer based in Riverdale, N.Y. When developing cocktail recipes for G'vine brand gin, Merino decided to embody the holiday season by pairing “apple, ginger and delicate floral notes,” he says, with the “spiced-floral” G'Vine Nouaison gin to make the “G'ingle Bell.”

The drink represents a slew of cocktail trends. Ginger and elderflower are on an upswing, along with gin itself, according to Merino. In addition, the public “is starting to appreciate the difference between brands,” he says. G'vine, for instance, is made from rare green grapes and is touted for being more mixable than the average gin. The Beverage Testing Institute, a top beverage reviewer, gave G'vine major props by declaring it the best gin in the world.

G'ingle Bell

1 ½ ounces G'vine Nouaison
¾ ounce Lillet Blanc
½ ounce Berentzen Apple Liqueur
½ ounce ginger-elderflower simple syrup
¾ ounce lime juice

Pour all ingredients into a shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.


Although recently made legal in the United States, absinthe still has a forbidden-fruit appeal that makes it a hit at parties. As Aidan Demarest, director of spirits and beverages at the Edison in Los Angeles, puts it, absinthe seems “a little dangerous.” That along with its exotic preparation — often including an absinthe fountain, a special spoon and, in some cases, fire — makes it a tantalizing cocktail-as-entertainment combo.

While many absinthe drinks consist solely of absinthe, sugar and water, the liquor can be shaken into a cocktail as well. The Edison whips up an absinthe-based drink called “Mr. Prosser's Formula,” which also features pisco; Demarest likes to serve the cocktail in “tiny perfume-style bottles.” The drink appeals to different event crowds — from attendees at a strait-laced Microsoft conference to the show-goers of the “Cabaret Lucent Dossier,” a vaudeville cirque act.

Mr. Prosser's Formula

1 ounce pisco
½ ounce absinthe
1 ounce white grape juice
½ ounce pineapple juice

Shake, strain and pour.


To create a “journey for the palate,” mixologist Marios Elias at the May Fair Hotel's May Fair Bar in London has developed a cocktail flight representing Milan, London and Amsterdam paired with complementary small plates. The creative “Destination Milan” cocktail, for example, features Grey Goose Vodka L'Orange, Campari, olive oil, basil, and grapefruit and blood orange segments, which are marinated in the vodka for 24 hours. The drink is served alongside a pink grapefruit macaroon and basil-citrus sorbet.

Elias says the flights of petite cocktails and small bites were well received at a recent event. “Attendees had never seen cocktails paired with food before,” he notes. “It was almost like an event within an event.” According to Elias, it's all part of a larger movement of having a “drink experience.”

Mini Destination London Martini

25 milliliters (0.85 ounces) Stoli Strasberi
3 drops 21-year-old balsamic vinegar
2 drops fresh lemon juice
1 dash simple syrup
5 milliliters double cream (0.17 ounces)

Combine all ingredients except double cream. Shake and serve with a drizzle of cream.


Hilton Americas-Houston

The Edison

The Liquid Chef

The May Fair Bar
The May Fair Hotel
011 44 20 7915 3894

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