Simple In designing any drink, I focus on simplicity and elegance. Simplicity means choosing no more than five ingredients that deliver a balanced yet complex cocktail. Elegance reminds me to introduce the guest to a cocktail that is delicious and refreshing, one that delivers flavor and not punch.
Colorful If the decorations have a special color theme, including that color in the drink can be an excellent choice. However, be careful that the ingredient delivering the color does not overpower the cocktail. It is more important to have a balanced drink than a drink that matches the tablecloths.
Seasonal Most importantly, the time of year and location get top billing. I like to include fresh ingredients whenever possible. Fresh-berry purees inspire bridal-shower cosmopolitans, cilantro delivers surprising spice to summer cocktails, and a pineapple-jalapeño margarita is perfect for adventurous guests who like their drinks with a little heat.
Lucy Brennan is the owner of Mint bistro and 820 lounge in Portland, Ore., and the author of Hip Sips: Modern Cocktails to Raise Your Spirits.