Bittercube co-owner & bartender Marco Zappia at a charity event at Constantine.
Wedding trends come and go—and some are extremely stupid. Remember garnish-your-own-mashed-potato bars, when a guy in a black vest would hand you a martini glass of mashed potatoes ladled high with gravy? Ugh. A conspiracy led by dry cleaners, for sure. But I was chit-chatting with Minneapolis' favorite bartender Marco Zappia the other day, and he told me about a trend I fully endorse: Special fancy cocktail menus designed just for your wedding.
Zappia, of course, is a managing partner in Bittercube, the local cocktail stars who make the brilliant bitters and make the ultra-cool destination cocktails. Zappia's also who Bittercube sends to be brand ambassador when in need of the fanciest-schmanciest cocktails that average Joes don't usually get to drink—I hear there was one at the MIA for donors that celebrated Jackson Pollock, Picasso, and Van Gogh in cocktail form, including a make-your-own Starry Night experience, with edible oils and foams. Of course, considering that spectacular stuff I wondered aloud: Why can't I have my own fanciest-schmanciest cocktail?Then Zappia told me that lots of brides and grooms are doing it. Here's the deal. Couples are commissioning Bittercube to design half a dozen or so special cocktails for their wedding, to commemorate their interests, which can be wide ranging: from the personal (South American travel), to the product-oriented (bourbon connoisseurship), to whatever (Nordic Tiki was one couple's dream.) At the wedding, a Bittercube bartender (or ten, or however many you need) makes the drinks for your guests, and then furnishes you with the recipes so you can make the drinks on your anniversary, to welcome your first great-grandchild ... you get the idea.
"It all started with friends who were getting married," Zappia told me. "They had been supporters of Bittercube forever, and they asked 'Can you please do cocktails at our wedding?'" Zappia continued, "Absolutely. To do it I’ll sit down with the bride and groom, find out where they are from, and what spirits they like. After we did a couple weddings and the idea was getting around by word of mouth, more people didn't want a bullshit he-likes-bourbon, she-likes-something-sparkly menu. Then it was snowballing." Now it's routine.
For destination weddings, the Bittercube crew will even get out into the landscape and turn pine buds into syrup, or what have you. Check out this menu they did for a couple with a Gun Flint Trail Boundary Waters destination wedding—where every piece of ice had to be walked in, and every toothpick gathered and walked out:
That seems like an extremely fantastic wedding. How much does such a wedding trend run? $500 per bartender, plus more per cocktail. Zappia also teaches in-home cocktail classes which have become the thing for Bachelorette parties. "I got a special outfit for those," he says. "They're a lot of fun. It's always quiet in the beginning, and halfway through all the dirty jokes come out."
I bet they do!
In any event, cheers to you, Minnesota—because an Iron Range Sour is better than a monogrammed bath mat, and I'm glad you're commemorating your love appropriately.