Q&A: The Perfect Pour

Christie Clarke and her company The Perfect Pour provide professional bartending services at weddings and rehearsal dinners, as well as fundraising events and corporate and private parties in the Gorge.

For information, go to perfectpourbartenders.com.

Q: Why hire a bartender for my wedding — can’t the caterer or venue do it?

A: Hiring a professional bartending company makes sense for many reasons. There are lots of details to consider for a wedding and the bar is a big one to factor in! I will often start talking with the bride and groom up to a year before their wedding day to get to know them and their story so we can add their personal touch. Also, it helps to know the big picture of their day so I can make helpful recommendations for things outside of just the bar portion. We have an amazing group of wedding-related vendors in the Gorge and it’s important to us all to try to refer each other. It also makes for a seamless day when you have already worked with the caterer, day-of coordinator, rental company, photographer, venue manager, DJ, and shuttle driver. Perfect Pour will handle liquor liability insurance, beverage selection and purchasing, glassware, signage, complete bar set-up and so much more. This way, the big day will flow smoothly and the wedding party can just relax and enjoy the festivities.

Q: What are the current trends in wedding beverages?

A: In the Gorge, serving local beer, wine, and spirits is always popular and hard ciders are a great way to add variety to the beverage list. Other creative ideas are to serve champagne or beer cocktails, and mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails) as well. Brunch weddings starting earlier in the day with a fresh squeezed juice mimosa bar are a fun way to mix it up, too.

Q: What is a signature drink and how do we come up with one?

A: A signature drink is normally a cocktail that is somehow representative of the bride and groom. I like to explore ideas of their family heritage and combine two components into the drink. I’ve also served a signature cocktail which was the drink the couple shared on their first date. I think the main point is to keep it simple, delicious, and fun.

Q: How do we come up with a bar budget for our wedding — are there certain rules of thumb?

A: I have worked with a wide range of budgets and I’m happy to help couples come up with a realistic spending plan. I can work with people who lean to the more casual side — for example, a backyard party using plastic cups and the hosts providing their own alcohol — and I can also work with people who want a formal affair with black tie servers carrying trays of Champagne. I’ve found it’s helpful to be flexible because everybody has a different situation. For many of the weddings I’ve worked, somebody has an aunt who is gifting them wine from her winery, or a brother-in-law who works for a brewery and gets them free beer. We can always work with these factors in order to keep people within their budget.

Q: How do we know how much alcohol we’ll need?

A: One rule of thumb to use for an estimate is two drinks per person for the first hour, then one drink per person an hour for the rest of the evening. It depends on the starting time and ending time of the drink service at the wedding and what types of drinks are being offered. I always bring back-up alcohol in case we have an extra thirsty crowd and I discuss any possible extra costs up front.

Q: Do you charge by a set fee per person or by the amount of alcohol consumed?

A: I put together a custom proposal for each wedding. There are so many variables that it’s difficult to give a boilerplate quote. Some venues already have a built-in bar, which makes things easier for set up. Some venues have a few different bar locations, so I’ll need to factor in extra service help. Typically I put in quite a few up-front hours for no cost. I’ll gladly meet a couple at a winery or brewery to pick out some selections and chat in person, or I will meet at their venue to walk through their vision of the set-up. I like to have it all planned out well before the big day.

Q: We want to serve local beer, wine and cider. How do we figure out what to serve from all the options?

A: There is an incredible amount of local options and it’s fun for me to keep up on the market research. It’s entirely possible to get all the beer, wine, cider and even spirits, juices, and garnishes from right here in the lovely Gorge. Most people I talk to already have an idea of their preferences, but if not, we have a little homework to do! I also like to communicate with the caterer to ensure our drink selections will pair nicely with the food, appetizers, and desserts.

Q: What are some important questions I should ask a potential wedding bartender?

A: Make sure you know what time the bartender will arrive to set up, and that they know when they need to be finished setting up. This way you will avoid hearing glasses rattling and ice crashing into tubs during your ceremony! Also make sure their attire will be in line with the dress code of the event. Find out how they would handle a guest who has had one too many. Discretion and politeness are important, but all bartenders need to make sure nobody is over-served. Another important question is finding out their cancellation policy and deposit refund policy. There are many circumstances that can happen here — fires, snowstorms, road closures, etc. — and it’s good to know all this information ahead of time. Also, find out what questions a bartender might have for the couple. Communication is key and the goal at Perfect Pour is for every person to have an unforgettable time.

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