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Take Flight

Why serve one signature cocktail at your reception when you can shake up three? Couples are skipping the specialty drink in favor of cool cocktail flights. These groups of tiny tipples—inspired by a favorite ingredient or a place you’ve ventured to together—kick off the party in a fun-size, spirited way. Take some inspiration from these fancy flights around town.  

Japanese Cocktail Flight at Zentan
Lead bartender Matt Allred’s Chotto Ippai flight showcases classic yet under-the-radar libations, tweaked ever so slightly with Japanese ingredients or influence. So the Zombie gets a pop of color from Sakura grenadine; the Pink Lady eschews gin for shochu; and the Boulevardier swaps out Bourbon for Mars Iwai Japanese Whisky. Allred recommends batching drinks ahead of time, diversifying the selection and preparing 2-ounce servings of each. “Keep cocktails simple and elegant crowd-pleasers,” he says. “Less is more.” 1155 14th St. NW, 202.379.4366
 

Brunchtails Flight at Bayou Bakery Coffee Bar & Eatery
Daytime receptions call for eye-opening elixirs; look no further than the Big Easy, which invented the cocktail and knows a thing or two about brunch-time imbibing. Chef and owner David Guas’ flight mingles Brandy Milk Punch (with Trickling Springs Creamery half & half, vanilla bean syrup, nutmeg and brandy), NOLA Swingers (with Belle Meade Bourbon, grapefruit, honey, rosemary and lip-tingling jalapeno) and a Bayou Bloody Mary, adorned with pickled seasonal veggies and Creole seasoning. “These are three customary cocktails that never go out of style.” Capitol Hill and Arlington, Va.


 

Moscow Mule Flight at Bourbon Steak
Vodka had its coming out party in the 1940s via this ginger beer- and lime-based cocktail. Head bartender Torrence Swain’s regionally inspired flight riffs on the original. The Bueno Hombre Mule has a mezcal base with a jalapeno garnish, while the American Mule gets a kick from rye whiskey and a mint sprig. For flights: “Maintain one consistent theme or element in each drink so it’s cohesive,” says Swain. 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.944.2026