Receptions Make or Break a Wedding

Wedding open bars used to be a certainty in the past. These days, however, it’s not always a given as one may assume. Drunk driving, higher costs, and religion may play a role in the decline of open bars at weddings. Like a lover who has left, we may not fully appreciate all that an open bar has done to make your special day a special, buzzed day. 

Most Expensive Drinks Found in Bars in 2021

The most expensive drink is called the “Diamonds Are Forever” drink in Tokyo, Japan and will set you back $22,600 for a cocktail made with Grey Goose vodka, a twist of lime and a $16,000v diamond inside the drink.

Here are the other drinks that made the list and maybe just avoid these if you ever go out in these areas:

Diamonds Are Forever drink at The Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo, Japan: $22,600
Ono cocktail at the XS Nightclub in Las Vegas: $10,000
Salvatore’s Legacy at the Playboy Club in London: $7,000
Sapphire Martini at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut: $3,000
Sidecar at the Bar Hemingway in Paris, France: $1,670
Original Mai Tai at The Merchant Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland: $1,270
Hennessy at Subsix Underwater Bar in the Maldives: $312
Hennessy Paradis Imperial Cognac at The Peak Bar in Tokyo, Japan: $248
White Lady at the American Bar at the Savoy in Mayfair, London: $150
The Admiral at Bad Luck Bar in Detroit, Michigan: $80

Top Beer Choices for Your Open Bar Wedding Reception

Green Cheek It Just Works
(Orange, California)
For the second year in a row, a cold IPA has made our top 20. Does this portend some alternate future for West Coast IPA? Maybe. But there’s no denying how compelling these beers are to those of us who love a crisp yet expressively hop-forward beer.

Conceptually, it makes sense—today’s hops are pretty incredible, and pushing those to the forefront while minimizing other impacts from fermentation or malt is an elegant way to tell those hops’ stories. Yet those tools, in the hand of a visionary brewer such as Green Cheek’s Evan Price, can make real art.

One of just a few 100-point beers this year, It Just Works is a master class in subtlety and expression. It doesn’t shy away from bitterness, but it’s sculpted just-so with a tropical tinge that draws it together with the prominent tropical fruit aromas and flavors. Glimpses of grassy grapefruit and pine are there, but flash through without dominating the conversation. Taken together, there’s a feeling of precision on display. It does exactly what it intends to do, and nothing more or less. Despite that precision, it hasn’t lost the “soul and spark” that take a beer from something we respect to something we love.

WeldWerks Starry Noche
(Greeley, Colorado)
We choose beers for this annual list in a few different ways. First, we consider the top scorers in each of our issues throughout the year. Next, we solicit new submissions from breweries, and we taste through them just for this issue. Finally, we consider the beers we’ve tasted all year, outside of the review process. When tasting submissions for the issue, we don’t go through the typical blind-panel scoring process. But to add some gravitas to this year’s Best in Beer, we invited contributing editor Kate Bernot and noted author Stan Hieronymus to the Craft Beer & Brewing office in Fort Collins for a few days of marathon blind-tasting.

Because we give primacy to the scores from our blind-review panel, it’s exceedingly difficult for a beer in a style that we’ve reviewed earlier in the year to make the list from the Best in Beer tasting. More often than not, we find beers in styles we haven’t reviewed earlier in the year. This year‚ WeldWerks Starry Noche is an outlier.

After tasting this beer—again, blindly—Stan stood up and informed the room that if this beer were not added to the Best Beers of 2021, he would no longer write for Craft Beer & Brewing. In a fit of judging bravado, Stan put it all on the line … for a dessert stout. Imagine just how delicious a barrel-aged, adjuncted, very sweet stout would have to be to move Stan to such a definitive gesture.

Flavor notes? It captures the expected macaroon notes and Samoa cookie, while layered threads of caramel bridge the sweeter top-notes and roasty low-notes. It knits together these intense but real flavors that evoke nostalgic moments for all of us, yet it does so without losing sight of the beer underneath. It’s a beer of intentional excess, yet surprisingly refined balance—a beer worth Stan’s grand gesture.

Triple Crossing One and the Same
(Richmond, Virginia)
Looks can be deceiving, as one whiff of this pale mixed-fermentation farmhouse beer can attest. Amid the Brettanomyces lambicus mineral funk are intriguing plum and raspberry notes with a light tannic backing, painted over with brighter apricot tones and highlighted with a lemony sheen. From the aroma, you might expect an acid-forward dive into wild ale, but One and the Same doesn’t succumb. Instead, light stone fruit mingles with berry, while wood-tannin offers a touch of herbal spice that’s more sensation than flavor.

Subtle white floral notes evolve and develop as it sits, offering Sacch structure within the broader mixed-fermentation chorus. But that red-wine barrel keeps adding the perfect twist; any time it appears, the flavor may shift to more conventional tones.

Creating a beer with this much depth but such light acidity is a gamble. But it suggests a beautiful future for mixed-culture beers that can (and should) be considered in the same conversation as wine when paired with a fine meal. This beer is one that should be on every sommelier’s list—it has the potential to change opinions about what sour or mixed-fermentation beer can be. Delicate yet sturdy, understated, and intriguing, it’s one of the most compelling mixed-culture beers we’ve tasted this year.

Breakside True Gold
(Portland, Oregon)
Our February-March 2021 issue was a chance for us to revisit “craft classics”—those styles that beer drinkers profess to love yet which rarely enjoy the hype or flashy qualities that can spur high Untappd scores. One of the standouts from that issue—Breakside’s True Gold—fits that bill perfectly. Our judges scored it a 96—a far cry from the 3.63 aggregate Untappd rating it holds at press time.

There’s a place for crowd-sourced ratings, but this beer is proof that expert reviews with an understanding of context, subtlety, and nuance are still valuable in the craft-beer world. The structure is elegantly understated but distinctly modern, with gentle stone-fruit notes that whisper rather than scream, and an understated yet defined bitterness. The lightness is a virtue, but in less-deft hands it would be easy for this Mosaic-Galaxy golden ale to become IPA-light or some other iteration of hop-driven beer. Instead, it’s a thoughtful take that embraces the classic style with a modern energy.

It is not the highest-scoring Breakside beer we’ve reviewed this year—that honor belongs to Wanderlust IPA (98), an absolute stunner of a West Coast IPA. But True Gold moves the needle for us in another way, as it prizes subtlety and history with a clever contemporary twist.

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