How To Set Up a Holiday Bar

The holidays are right around the corner and I'm thinking it's about time to start inviting friends over for an old fashioned cocktail party. Since I don't have a bar, I am planning to clear off my buffet to create a welcoming bar setup. Here are few tips for setting up your own bar.

1. Find Your Spot: Look for space that's large enough to hold your bar setup. This could be a dining table, buffet or TV console. If you're short on space, clear off a shelf on a bookcase, or make a small area on your coffee table. Make sure to find a spot where guests will have easy access and room to mingle.

2. Decide what type alcohol you want to serve. I normally pick up vodka, rum, gin,  whiskey or bourbon and wine. For the budget conscience, make batches of a signature drink and provide one or two other alcohols. Having a chilled bottle of champagne is always fun. Look for a drink calculator online to figure out how much you need per guest.

3. Keep it cold, no one likes a warm beverage. Make sure you have plenty of  ice on hand. I love to place an vintage ice bucket on bar for easy access. For bottles of wine and champagne, fill a large bucket, sink, bathtub or washing machine with ice. (Tip: Add a handful of salt to keep the ice colder and melt slower.)

4. Skip the plastic cups and stock up on glasses. Before a party, I scour thrift shops and eBay for different types of glasses, highball, old fashioned, martini, etc. They're festive and inexpensive and it doesn't matter if one gets broken. Line up the glasses on a tray for a chic look.

5. Fresh flowers or branches are always welcome. While space is usually limited on the bar, I always like to add a fresh flower or two for an extra touch.

6. Stock up on mixers. Normal mixers like tonic and club soda are key.  I love to see rows and rows of mini bottles. Not only does it give your bar a polished look, but it keeps the drinks fresh and unused bottles can be saved for later. Juice, sparking water and sodas are also great for non-drinkers and designated drivers.

7. Don't forget the garnishes. Lemons and limes are essential, but key limes, grapefruit and pommagrante seeds can be festive.

8. Make sure you have a shaker or two on hand for those who like their drinks shaken, not stirred.

9. Don't forget the napkins. Fabric cocktail napkins add an elegant touch, but nice paper napkins will also do the trick.

10. To help guests mix their drinks, have a bartenders' guide handy or print classic drink recipes on cards and place them at the bar. I love to handwrite drink cards and leave them on the bar.


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