Weddings are a combination of maximum stress and maximum joy. There are so many major and minor details to worry about: a deep commitment between betrothed hearts being publicly cemented; speeches delivered by novice orators; inter-family dynamics; high expectations, and fears of possible unexpected catastrophe. It’s the perfect day, but it also has significant potential to become the perfect storm.
But there’s a not so secret magic potion that is almost universally employed during the nuptials to relax tensions and raise spirits; figuratively and literally. Yes, that demon drink is a mainstay that lubricates the time-honoured proceedings at the majority of marriage day celebrations.
The drinks are often a set formulae that nobody thinks to question: A couple of crafty courage enhancing secret drinks before the ceremony; dainty glasses of sherry for the guests upon entering the reception room; red and white vinos during the meal; champagne or sparkling wine for the toasts – and then as much booze as you want to consume during the evening celebrations. It’s all good – A well proven recipe for a happy day.
I respect tradition and am not advocating jettisoning the tested formula, but I do think the traditional protocol can be taken as a loose template and personalized with elements that directly relate to the bride and groom on a personal level, and their individual tastes, cultures and heritages. The drinks menu provides a wide-open agenda in this respect. What will you offer your guests upon arrival at the reception; traditional sherry, earthy fennel tea, refreshing sparkling water, or in-your-face bloody Marys? Your choice – stamp your identity!
The suggestion I want to make here is to utilize the toast making portion of the wedding speeches to make a strong statement of “this is who we are, remember this” – and everyone will! Show some individuality, make your mark, and pin yourselves upon the lifelong memories of all who are privileged to share your special day.
Champagne is the classic toasting tipple: Fizzy white wine! Nice, but blah! Effervescent suds for the masses! Replace that expected beverage and toast those important spoken good wishes with extraordinarily memorable special drinks. Certainly, you all have your own ideas, but here is my favourite ‘special drink’, worthy of the magnitude of wedding toasts: It’s a stripped-down version of ‘The Last Word’, which is an intoxicating cocktail both in terms of its complex multi-layered textured flavour, and also its considerable alcohol content: Nectar of the gods!
The Last Word has its origins in gritty prohibition era Detroit, USA: City of Danger, City of forbidden delights. Detroit, Michigan sits on the bank of the Detroit River facing, on the opposite bank, Windsor, Ontario; supplier of alcoholic products to that historic deviant entrepreneur, Al Capone.
The Last Word is made from 4 equal parts of 4 ingredients. The first of these is lime, but to me this overpowers the whole ensemble with its acidity and can be (and should be) omitted altogether from this cocktail. The remaining 3 ingredients are gorgeous in isolation, and extraordinarily superb in combination. They are Gin, with all of its contributory botanical nuances, and the exotic speciality tipples Chartreuse and Maraschino Liqueur.
Gin is exquisite; a white spirit enhanced by a combination of carefully selected botanicals for flavour – All brands differ in composition and taste, so choose your preferred juniper concoction as the basis for your personalized toast cocktail.
Chartreuse has been made by French Carthusian monks since 1737, and its origins date back to at least the early 1600’s. The brew is named after the monks of the Grande Chartreuse monastery and it is made by infusing 130 herbs and botanicals with distilled alcohol. This results in a big taste, and a big alcohol content too. At 55% proof, this pale green liquid seems to be an unlikely product to be associated with monks – but wow, its taste is heavenly.
Maraschino is a clear cherry flavored liqueur from Torreglia, Italy. Distilling Marasca cherries, the fruit of the coastal wild growing Tapiwa cherry tree, is the magic behind this taste bud pleasuring brew.
Recipes for The Last Word go to great lengths stressing the appropriate preparation process: Combine the ingredients, shake with ice, strain the mixture, pour etc. Well that’s great for connoisseurs, but for me, simply pouring the three elements directly into a glass (with no ice, and definitely no lime juice) is entirely sufficient – I don’t think it even needs to be stirred!
The combination of these treasured ingredients makes for a wedding toasting fluid like no other. Take care, it’s a heady brew, and excess will take command of your legs, speech, and self-control …… but in moderation, this exquisite mixture is blissful, and royalty as a toasting tipple.
Here’s to the happy bass ass couple, and all of the bad ass guests …… Cheers …… and that is the last word.