Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Is a Wedding Bar Tab Really Necessary?

Brides and Grooms, do not worry about providing a free bar at your wedding day.

I thought about writing this post as the topic was brought up with a couple of my friends the other day about what we might do for our long-awaited big 21st birthday bashes and the impression that I got was that a bar tab was a normal and regular thing to provide at your big day. I assure you this is really not the case! 

Firstly, it is incredibly expensive to have an all-paid-for-bar for your guests (especially if you have invited lots and they're a big fan of spirits).  Believe it or not, I have worked at a few weddings featuring a bar tab and there are some guests who will take advantage and spend pretty much their whole night lingering by the bar. You may be reading this, gasp, and exclaim 'heavens no!', not even considering that your guests may be ordering bottle after bottle of vintage wine on your tab. However unfortunately this does tend to be the case at the majority of weddings with tabs; and it always happens to be that guest who you were reluctant to invite in the first place. 

However a solution to this if you are still prepared to pay for a bar tab is to only include soft drinks, glasses of wine and pints of beer on the tab. This then cuts out all spirits, prosecco, champagne, and bottles of wine, meaning no-one can splurge out on anything unnecessary.

Secondly, many will be surprised to hear that even if there is a tab behind the bar (perhaps £5,000) it is very, very unlikely that this will all be used up. Trust me, I've heard it all before:

"Do I only see 4 bottles of jaegermeister in your fridge- you will definitely need to stock up as with this lot, it will be gone before you can even say jaeger-bomb" 
"We are not leaving until we run your bar dry"
"You might as well just leave the rest of the bottle of champagne with me love"

These are just a few of the many, many lines I hear from those who - for one night only - are trying to relive their university days as they're back with all their mates. In response to this, I give a charming (but almost challenging) smile, knowing that this certainly won't be the case. In fact it is those who come out with these 'original' lines who are the first to end up asleep on the sofa, not even making it to the dance floor.

Essentially what I am trying to say is that both the bride and groom and guests underestimate how much  alcohol they will have already drunk before the meal ends and they hit the bar. Perhaps a few (or more) glasses of prosecco at the reception, maybe half a bottle of wine (maybe a whole bottle) at the meal and another glass (or two) of bubbly for the speeches. Mix this all together with excitement and nervousness and you've got yourself an adequate concoction of booze. At this point, you may still think you can handle a lot more, endeavouring to "run the bar dry" and I hate to generalise (although I feel like I sort of can), but this really will not be the case. I would say that at the majority of the weddings at which I work, we will refund about 1/3 of the bar tab.

Thirdly and finally, many people will not even expect a pay-bar. I know I wouldn't. After the bride and groom have spent a fortune on their wedding day, I find it hard to believe that guests would be taken aback at the fact that they must pay for their drinks. I mentioned above that many take advantage of the pay-bar because they know it's there, however if there isn't a pay bar people are actually more than happy to buy drinks and they won't second guess it. 

This isn't a post to try and convince you not to have a pay-bar. Instead, it's to encourage those who were originally considering it but at the same time put off the price, that it is in fact not a necessary component of your big day. Personally, I would rather spend the money on an evening meal or an extra course at dinner, but that's just me!

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Monday, 4 February 2013

Wine Course

For many of you who know me well, you will know that I love my wine. I am the girl with red wine lips and teeth on a night out...or even in a lecture the next day, as for some reason I find it a lot harder than everyone else to get it off?! (If anyone has any tips please let me know)

I've realised I'm not giving off a very good impression right now, you probably have an image of a lip-stained, obsessive wine-aholic. So I hope I will redeem myself by saying that my interest for wine goes far beyond just drinking it. Over the past year or so I have become more and more interested in the whole etiquette and history around wine. I guess you could say it's turning into a little hobby of mine! 

Knowing this, my lovely boyfriend was generous enough to give me a wine course with the Oxford Wine Company for my Christmas present. It was a one-on-one 3 hour introduction to wine, learning about grape varieties, terroir, how climate affects the grapes, how wine is made, and finally- my favourite bit- tasting of 7 different wines. So, after waiting in anticipation since December 25th, it was finally the weekend I was booked in for my course- I was very excited but also very nervous (those who know me, concentrating for 3 hours is a nearly impossible task!). However the lady who ran the course, Nikki, definitely put me at ease and it was such an enjoyable few hours, they flew by. 

The last hour of the course was all about the tasting of wine: how to actually taste wine but more
importantly how to analyse the flavours, colours, velocity etc of the wine once you've tried it. 

This has taught me a lot more about tasting wine indeed. Beforehand, and I am sure many will agree with me, it is often difficult to tell the difference between a very good wine and an okay wine. However, when they are all lined up next to each other and you taste them all individually, it turns out to be really very obvious and overall this day turned out to be a great success! Don't get me wrong- I can't afford to pay for more expensive wines seeing as I'm still a student, however I will make sure I save up every now and again for a nice bottle, in order to really appreciate it. I would highly recommend this course to anyone. A very enjoyable and informative few hours from someone who is genuinely passionate about wine. If anyone is interested, here is the chart which I used below, let me know how you get on! 

Clear- Dull
White: Lemon-Gold-Amber
Rose: Pink-Orange
Dry-off Dry- Medium- Sweet

Check out the website for the Oxford Wine Company here. They do regular events which are relatively inexpensive and informal which I hope to attend sometime soon.
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Daddy's Famous Canadian Pancakes

I have said this many many times before.... hands down best pancakes EVER. People often throw this phrase around, but they must be lying because these bad boys are genuine. You will not find any Aunt Jemima pancake mix in this house. This is the real deal boys and girls, made my genuine Canadian father.

This is definitely not the first time my dad has heard this. My friends have learned that the only thing you need to do to get on my dad's good side and for him to like you is compliment him on his pancakes and you are officially his favourite guest. He is so easily pleased, and thrives on it. It got to the point when I was younger that my friends would consider staying the night at mine just so they could have pancakes in the morning. To this day, I believe this is still an incentive!!!

The tradition started when my brothers and I were very young and as a weekend treat, my dad would spoil us with either a full english fry-up or his pancakes. Obviously as we grew older we realised that frying an egg and some bacon isn't actually that hard, so that was eventually off the breakfast menu. However, our weekend pancake tradition has always stuck. Still to this day I will return home from uni and wake up to the smell of warm pancakes in the AGA. Best alarm clock ever.

Over the years we have tried and tested many different kinds of pancakes: blueberry pancakes, mini pancakes, banana pancakes (inspired by Jack Johnson), extra large pancakes, pancakes with more milk, pancakes with more flour etc. You think of it, my dad has tried it and used us as his guinea pigs in order to perfect his recipe. 

I have in fact never been up in time to watch him make them (apart from maybe when I was a lot younger in which case I don't remember) so I have asked him for his recipe and ingredients to share with all of you lucky readers. Especially as pancake day is nearing why don't you give this recipe a go?

Best way to devour your stack of pancakes: (my method which I have perfected over the years as well)
Big wedge of butter between each pancake so it melts and a sufficient amount of Canadian maple syrup glugged over the top. mmmmmm. Enjoy!

For 9 Pancakes (3 each):
1 cup of plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Milk (enough to be equal in volume to the contents of the dry bowl)

1) Mix flour, salt and baking powder well in a big bowl
2) In a separate bowl beat the egg with oil.
3) Mix in milk (enough to be equal in volume to the contents of the dry bowl)
4) Gently add the contents of the wet bowl to the dry bowl. Do not beat too much
5) Let sit for 20 mins
6) Dollop onto frying pan (or if you have an AGA, grease up the right hob and dollop them straight on there!)

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