Cute Cocktails, Cash Bars, and Communication Ft. Mintahoe Catering & Events

Mintahoe beverage service in Minneapolis

Hey Forever Brides! Today’s episode is a TRIPLE shot of fun because I have three guests in the studio with me! We are talking all about craft cocktails, a cash bar vs. an open bar, and so much more! We are taking liquor to a whole new level!

Hey brides! Thank you for tuning in, if this is your first time listening, I just want to say, “Hi, I’m Sam.” I’m so happy you’re here! Before we jump in, I want to remind you to join our Forever Brides group on Facebook. Also, The Forever Bride Market presented by Mintahoe Catering & Events, is coming up on November 10th! It’s an intimate wedding expo, featuring the best variety of wedding vendors in Minnesota and I would love to see you there! You can find all the information in and click The Market tab or search it on Facebook (EVENT HERE) and select going. It’s my favorite day of the year for many reasons – specifically because I love seeing all you beautiful brides and connecting you with amazing vendors. Anywho, with that, let me introduce today’s guests: Jeremy, Johnny, and Suzie!!!

You three are with Mintahoe Catering & Events, which is our title sponsor for The Market and I think that is so fun. I’m so happy you guys could be here today, thank you! Please tell me a little bit more about yourselves and how you got plugged in to Mintahoe Catering & Events and the bartending world.

Jeremy Bigley: I’m the Director of Operations at Mintahoe Catering & Events. I’ve been with the company just over 12 years now.

Suzi McMerty Shands: I am Suzy McMerty Shands, and I am the Vice President of Sales. I’ve been with the company for 24 years now.

Johnny: And my name is Johnny! I’m one of the bartenders at Mintahoe Catering & Events and I have been here for just about three years.

I’m really excited about this episode because we are covering so much! First of all, for those that aren’t watching on YouTube, Please go check this out on YouTube, because we have several different drinks here! Can we talk about this real quick? 

Johnny: Yes, we have a couple of our specialty cocktails. This the old fashioned, it is called our Something Old. And then the other glass we have on the table is one of our martinis!

Tune in to hear how they make these classic drinks into something special!

First of all, I want to talk about a cash bar. I’ve seen a lot of brides ask about this on our Facebook group. Wondering what the pros and cons are, what other brides are doing, so tell me, what have you guys seen since being in the bartending space?

Suzi: There are three types of bars:

  1. Cash Bar – This is a great option for the couples that don’t have a huge budget or they want to use their budget elsewhere.
  2. Hosted Bar
  3. Combination (Hosted & Cash)

Tip: If you want to make sure people are dancing at your wedding, you not only need to hire a good DJ, but also have a good bartender and liquor available! 

Let’s break down the costs of these types of bars. What are some numbers couples can keep in mind?

Jeremy: It really depends on the crowd. So when our sales consultants work with each bride and groom and discuss their wedding, they need to get some information out of them for what their friends, their family, and what they, the couple, is like. Whether they are heavy drinkers or if they are not very heavy drinkers. And that’ll help us make a decision for them. The easiest option is obviously going with the cash bar, because the guest is paying for their drinks individually. Or going with the hosted package because then it’s a host of drinks all night long. You’ve already paid for it up front. The middle option, if you’re working with some budget restrictions and things like that, would be a Consumption Bar, is what we call them. So basically. The host is paying for the drinks that were consumed that night, and they’re not risking overpaying by paying for a package and then not having their guests take advantage of that package. So there’s kind of a few different options. If they are going to go with that consumption bar, typically, what we recommend is that you average out about four drinks per person throughout the evening. You have to remember that some of your guests aren’t going to drink at all. Some guess will only want a glass of wine with dinner. And then you’re going to have your core friends and people like that that are going to be there to enjoy the night with you.

Oh, that’s a really good piece of advice. So think about four drinks per person. So for someone having a wedding for about one hundred and fifty people, how much should they set aside for a budget?

Jeremy: Well, it really depends on what each venue bills for their drinks. So you have some caterers or venues that their pricing is a little bit on the cheaper end. And then you go to some of the downtown venues where they can get away with charging a little bit more. So it kind of depends where they’re having their wedding and who they’re having it with. For us, a drink is typically between $7-9 range. So if you’re to take that four drinks, one hundred and fifty people, you’d have six hundred drinks and then multiply it by eight and it’s about $4,800. So I would suggest if they were going to go with the on-consumption package that they would put down about that much. And then we keep track of what we use throughout the night and if they don’t use that full amount then we refund the unused portion to them.

Tune in to hear Sam’s panic about math – Ha!

When should a bride start meeting with consultants for food & beverage?

Suzi: Right away! The very first thing typically that brides do is they get their venue first, or their church first, and/or vice versa if they’re not getting married at the venue. And then right from there, it goes into meeting with the caterer, because that is going to be your second biggest expense behind flowers and so on. And with Mintahoe we do the liquor as well as the food, which is really convenient for brides so they don’t have to go to separate places to try to find something. So right away, it also helps them to set a budget. And our sales consultants will work with brides and grooms and say, you know, what is your overall budget? Let’s break that down into how much are you going to spend on flowers? How much are you going to spend on liquor and food and decor and so on and so forth, so that they’re not giving that big star sticker shock at the end.

You know you’ve found a trusted venue and caterer when they’re willing to break down your whole budget with you instead of forcing a specific package on you. But what can you tell me about the menus you’ve brought into the studio with you?

Tune in to hear the backstory of how their partnership with Tattersall came to be!

Jeremy: We actually have two different menus, ones more so directed for corporate clients and ones directed for weddings. They are the same drinks. We just kind of did a little play on their names. Basically we have Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, a Bride Side or Groom Side and then a Honeymoon Suite. So those are the six craft cocktails we created with Tattersall specifically for our clients.

Tune in to hear all the details behind the Something Blue!

How do you make all of these cocktails and be efficient at a wedding at the same time?

Johnny: So when we do like specialty cocktails, say there’s one hundred and fifty guests at the wedding and you want to prepay or pre-order for one drink per person, we batch that in a way that we can still make it fresh on the spot. But most of the work has already been done. With a few of the other ones that we have, like the old fashioned on the table right now, we don’t have to muddle anything. So that does help with the time that it takes to make each drink and the congestion in the bar. Other than that, I mean we do usually butler pass wine or butler pass custom cocktails. That also  helps with the congestion of the bar area.

Pro’s to a butler pass:

  • Seems fancy to guests
  • Gets rid of the shame of being the person that keeps going back to the bar!
  • It gets your guests trying something that they may not normally try.

What are some cocktails that pair well for summer – and each of the other seasons?

Tune in for all the DELICIOUS seasonal cocktail recommendations from Johnny! Plus, he shares the details of the Honeymoon Suite drink, yum!

Suzi: And a lot of these drinks can be great for kids, without the liquor of course! Kids have a blast being able to take part in the “fancy” drinks. So if you’re having a mimosa bar or a Coffee + Bailey’s bar for those winter weddings, we will add in hot chocolate or whatever we can to make it fun for the kids too. 

Tune in for Mocktail ideas! These are great for proms, graduation parties, and other events.  

Let’s talk about trends in bartending. We’ve seen things like the stations (coffee, mimosas, Bloody Marys). But what else have you guys seen or done recently? 

Tune in to hear the details of a GOOD Bloody Mary station! Also, have you thought about serving alcohol before the ceremony? Mintahoe has! Tune in for the pros & cons about that. 

What are some other practical pieces of advice that brides might not be thinking about as far as, you know, when it comes to liquor and their bartending services before their wedding?

Suzi: Know your audience. She shares such good advice here – tune in!

Jeremy: Don’t push your taste too much on your guests. Tune in to hear his examples!

Before we closeout, can you share a brief overview of your food service? 

Suzi: Mintahoe Catering & Events is a full service catering company. We do bars and different cocktails and we also do food. We do food everywhere from simple drop offs, corporate type, to the full wedding fayre. We can do really fun, picnic style weddings. We can do a very fancy upscale affair. We can do something in between. Really it’s about what you’re looking for. What is your style and what is the style that you want guests to feel at your party? If a couple is, for instance, really big into nature and like camping, then we’re probably not going to push them more towards a black tie type affair. They’re going to want something that’s really fun, unique, and different. Maybe a s’mores bar at the end of the night or something like that, you know?

I feel like you guys do all of this really well, because how long has Mintahoe Catering & Events been around for?

Suzi: I’ll give you a little backstory! Tune in to hear how it all started with Jim McMerty doing picnics and drop offs!

You guys have been rocking it ever since! And a lot of caterers have Preferred Vendors or can only operate in certain areas, but Mintahoe has partnerships across MN and even owns a venue! Do you want to share some of those just so brides know, like I can go here and I’ll have food and beverage all figured out!

Suzi: Absolutely. So our newest venue and the one that we fully own is Inwood Oaks, and that is out on the St. Paul side of the river in Oakdale.

It’s gorgeous! We’ve been there and LOVE it! 

Jeremy: We actually have eight exclusive venues in our portfolio right now Inwood Oaks, as the one venue that we do own. The other exclusive venues that we have is the Nicollet Island Pavilion in downtown Minneapolis. A’bulae in downtown St. Paul, Van Dusen Mansion, which is in Minneapolis. And then we also work with the Minnesota Boat Club in St. Paul, the Minneapolis Central Library, and then the Eden Prairie Garden Room. And lastly, not least, is Leopold Mississippi Gardens, which is actually right up in your guy’s neighborhood in Brooklyn Park! And those are only the venues that were exclusive with. We also are known as a preferred vendor to many different venues around the metro area, even outside of the metro. If someone wants to have their wedding in a city park or something like that, we’ll go wherever they want!

Suzi: We do a lot of home weddings as well. If somebody has a beautiful backyard and they want to get married there we will come to you!

Love that! Any last piece of advice you want to share?

Tune in to hear TWO pieces of advice from Suzi – who, by the way, has been married for over 21 years!!

And real quick, what is everyone’s favorite drink?

Suzi: Anything with vodka.

Johnny: I’m pretty simple, Jack & Coke.

Jeremy: My go to is also simple, bourbon on the rocks.

Side note – I, Sam, was not expecting any of those answers haha! Was each person’s answer surprising or was that just me?

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Cute Cocktails, Cash Bars, and Communication Ft. Mintahoe Catering & Events