“Where’s the bar” is the first question arriving party guests will ask as you greet them at the door. The bar is the central gathering place for many parties—even if alcoholic beverages aren’t served. Every bar should be equipped with basic tools, mixers, and spirits; when tools are not handy, it is difficult to get drinks out quickly. Lines begin to form and guests stand empty handed—a big party foul. Here’s a guide for building your bar. The quantities you will need will depend on how many guests you are serving, of course. If you’re not offering a full bar but serving a signature cocktail or just beer and wine, you certainly won’t need this extensive set-up; pick and choose what suits your needs from the list below.
Here are a few secrets I’ve figured out over the years….
- Put something under your ice bucket or iced down beverages so you don’t end up with a wet tablecloth.
- Get two back up bottle openers and put them away. Bottle openers not only break, but they seems to walk away at most parties, especially at outdoor parties and tailgates. If possible, tie the bottle opener or wine opener to your ice chiller or cooler using a pretty ribbon or twine.
- I often put an inexpensive plastic backed painter’s dropcloth under my nice tablecloth for the bar just in case there’s a spill. Some dropcloths have a cloth surface so they look great for casual settings.
- For casual occasions, it is perfectly fine to use or rent one type of glass or stemware to be used for wine, iced tea and water.
- When serving a signature cocktail, I often mix the base a day in advance and freeze it. Remove it an hour before guests arrive so it can slightly thaw. Add chilled liquor just before serving and stir well.
- I get large multi-gallon plastic jugs from the restaurant supply store to pre-mix all of my beverages. Store these in the refrigerator, freezer or in a cooler to keep them cold and you won’t need as much ice.
- Estimate 4.5 glasses of wine per bottle and 4 glasses of Champagne per bottle.
- Estimate guests will drink approximately 1 drink per hour.
- Have plenty of water and sparkling water available; pass glasses of chilled water on a tray to make sure guests don’t overindulge.
- Make sure you are not cooling cans or bottles in the cooler with the ice for beverages. Have one cooler just for “clean” ice and provide a scoop and an ice bucket for service so guests won’t be tempted to scoop with their glass.
2 Bottle Openers
2 Wine Openers or Corkscrews
2 Martini or Cocktail Shakers
2 Double Jiggers- the dual cone shaped measuring device
Muddler- essential for drinks like the Mojito
2 Paring Knives
Stirrers or long cocktail spoons
7-Up or Sprite
Tomato Juice or Bloody Mary Mix
Olives of all types, stuffed, etc