One gracious way to set the tone for a party or a wedding is to serve guests a signature cocktail as they arrive. As a host, having a pre-made cocktail does make bartending duties easier. I love to have a large tray of drinks waiting for guests at the door so they can help themselves and immediately mingle.

For weddings, you can use a signature cocktail to bring some of your heritage or personal style to the party and it does help reduce costs if you serve it in place of a full bar.

The Southern Gentleman cocktail is bourbon, mint, and blackberries with a float of Prosecco on top. This cocktail was crafted for Kathleen & Keith's New Year's Eve wedding in Palm Beach as tribute to the couple's Southern heritage-Kathleen is from New Orleans, her husband Keith is from Jacksonville. Everyone raved about it that night! (Kudos to Aaron's Catering/International Polo Club Palm Beach for crafting it perfectly!) This goes down really easy. Even the non-bourbon drinkers like it!

Martie Duncan Wedding Bar Signage

Because everyone asked for the recipe, Keith asked me to show him how to make it. We recreated it last week at their home. This recipe is for one cocktail but it is easy to make for a big crowd. Instead of muddling the blackberries, I use a stick blender to puree them and then strain. If you don't have a stick blender, you can use a wooden spoon and a mesh sieve to achieve the same results. It just takes longer.

Bourbon mint and blackberry cocktail



1 ounce simple syrup, chilled
4-5 fresh blackberries
4-5 fresh mint leaves, torn
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
Splash of chilled Prosecco

Make a simple syrup using equal parts sugar and water. (Put water and sugar in a sauce pot- stir to combine.  Bring to boil, once it boils remove from heat. Stir to dissolve sugar and let cool completely.

For 1:
Muddle 4-5 fresh or frozen blackberries and 4-5 torn mint leaves in a shaker with an ounce of simple syrup, crushing the berries and bruising the mint.  (I allow to sit for a while to absorb- but you don't have to)

Add 1 1/2 ounces bourbon- we used Buffalo Trace for this recipe.

Shake well. Taste. You may want a bit more simple syrup depending on how sweet the berries are.

Pour over crushed ice and top with a float of chilled Prosecco.

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