Get Your Drink On: Self-Serve Cocktails & DIY Recipes from Our Favorite Bartenders

What To Do if You Don't Have a Bartender at Your Wedding

Tips by Lauren Schopen

Use a large vessel. At DIY weddings, there isn’t always a paid bartender on staff to take care of all that stirring, shaking, icing, and pouring. A lot of weddings have gone the way of the serve-yourself bar. If there isn’t a bartender on hand, use a punch bowl with a ladle or a decanter with a spout instead of a pitcher.

Ice: functional and decorative! Another DIY solution is to make up large punch ice "cubes" ahead of time that melt slowly, contain decorative garnishes within, and are made of at least 50% juice so they do not water down the cocktail as they melt. These can be made up to a month in advance.

Presentation. The look of the cocktail is usually important to couples, and the pre-garnished ice can be a good way to add a decorative component to your pre-batched cocktail. Otherwise, have a person fully devoted to making garnishes to order or keeping pre-made garnishes from drying out.

RECIPE: Confederate Widow

Created by Lauren Schopen

Anna thompson illustration of drink ingredients

Illustrations by Anna Thompson

This crowd-pleasing refreshing bourbon cocktail has a hint of lavender and is topped with sparkling honey lemonade, making it appropriate for spring, summer, and early autumn weddings.

If you aren't a bourbon fan, try an ENGLISH WIDOW: the same cocktail substituting Bombay Sapphire Gin for the bourbon.

Garnish with lemon wheels and/or lavender sprigs.



2 oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon

1.5 tsp Lavender Syrup*

1 tsp Honey Syrup**

3/4 oz Lemon Juice

1 oz Seltzer/Club Soda


3 liters Woodford Reserve Bourbon

12.5 oz Lavender Syrup*

8.5 oz Honey Syrup**

1 liter Lemon Juice

1.75 liters Club Soda

*Lavender Syrup: 1 cup lavender buds/4 cups sugar/4 cups water. Boil on stove, let cool. Good for 4 weeks.

**Honey Syrup: 3 parts honey/1 part water. Mix boiling water with honey, whisk in shallow bowl or shake in sealed heat-proof container. Good for 1 year.

RECIPE: The Steinem

Created by Erin Jameson

anna thompson illustration of drink ingredients

To get started, mix juices, syrup, and bitters together. Next, add the St. Germain and Aquavit. Let these flavors marinate for a few hours in the fridge before adding in the ginger beer. Once it’s time to serve, test the portions after adding ice and ginger beer before serving your guests. This is the time to adjust for taste.

Finally, add all of the garnish and enjoy!

REMINDER: When making large batches of drinks, be sure to prepare extra syrups and juices so that the final punch can be tweaked to taste.



15 oz Aquavit (Linie is ideal)

5 oz St. Germain

15 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice (pulp strained out)

5 oz Fresh Lime Juice (pulp strained out)

5 oz Salted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup

4 cups Ginger Beer or Spicy Ginger Ale

5–6 dashes of Angostura Bitters

GARNISH (keep chilled until service)

2 pints Fresh Raspberries

Grapefruit Quarters

Lime Wheels


1. Combine a 1:1 ratio of light brown sugar and boiling water

2. Add ½ tsp ground cinnamon and 3 tsp kosher salt

3. Mix well

4. Let syrup cool completely before adding to cocktail

This article originally appeared in Volume One of Catalyst Wedding Magazine. Order your copy for more great articles.


Lauren is the dining room and bar manager at the Molasses Grill in Halifax, VA.


Erin is the libation liaison and bartender at The Modern NYC.