How to Keep Bugs Away from Drinks During Your Outdoor Cocktail Hour

There's nothing worse than finding a fly in your Champagne.

signature wedding cocktails on gold trimmed serving tray
Photo: Perry Vaile Photography

A major part of the appeal of a peak-season wedding is the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, and that's true whether you're planning a garden ceremony, a tented dinner, or an al fresco cocktail hour. Creating a time for your guests to mingle and chat on a shaded terrace, by a sparkling lake, or outside a rustic barn while sipping custom cocktails lets you take full advantage of your location, even if the rest of your party takes place inside. But few things can ruin the energy of a sun-filled happy hour like an invasion of flies, wasps, or mosquitos desperate to sample your signature drinks. Prevent unwelcome insects from crashing your cocktail hour with these three simple tips.

Tweak your menu.

One of the easiest ways to dissuade bugs is to adjust the bar menu. "Avoid super sugary juices or drinks," says Jessica Lasky of Jessica Lasky Catering. Opt for signature cocktails based on classics like the mojito, martini, gin and tonic, or old fashioned. Event designer Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events also recommends a carefully curated selection of garnishes: "Many bugs do not like citrus," he says, "so keep oranges, lemons, and limes on the bar out and about."

Choose the right location.

Work with your bar staff to choose a bug-free location for the bar itself and for your cocktail space. "It is important to not set up food or drinks near standing water or mud, where bugs love to be," says Meyer. "Keep the sanitation area far from guests, as bugs will find trash, so if it is not near the bar or food, then you are not tempting bugs to come hang out."

Go on the offensive.

Incorporating a few other bug deterrents around your outdoor area can deter insects from your cocktail hour, too. "I suggest using the tiki torches with citronella fuel as they really work well," says Meyer. "You can create a circle with them around the area of the party and the smoke and smell helps keep bugs away." He also recommends installing ceiling fans in tented areas and using smaller table fans elsewhere. "Fans are always a great idea for an outdoor wedding—they keep it cool, but they also keep bugs away," says Meyer. "Fans on the bar, or hung overhead, will keep the insects from coming near."

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