Planning a party can be complicated, even if you’re a natural host. There are many different factors to consider — what food to serve, how many guests to invite, do you want to host a formal event or a more casual get-together, and so on.
This planning time can be stressful, but with some specific party features, such as a drink table, your event will surely be a success. We’ll share a few simple tips, so you can create the best drink table to fit into any type of party.
Tip 1. Start With Your Drink Serving Table
The key to a drink table set up for party success is to start your planning with what you will serve your drinks on. You don’t have to think traditionally, though. While a table or a bar cart makes a perfect drink table, you can make do with nearly anything in a pinch as long as it’s sturdy. You wouldn’t want to do all that work only to have your drink table go crashing to the ground, right?
Another factor to consider, although not mandatory, is setting up your drink table in an area multiple people can access at once. Access is especially vital if you’re having a large party because you don’t want to inadvertently create a traffic jam or long line just to get a cocktail. Think of centrally located areas that are not in the direct path of a doorway.
Pro tip: If your drink table is going to be on a moveable surface, like a bar cart, make sure you lock the wheels! All it takes is an accidental bump to send all of your liquor and glassware rolling into a wall.
Tip 2. Determine What Liquors You Want To Stock
After you know what serving surface you’re working on, you can start to plan how you want to stock your drink table.
Some people will either play bartender or hire a bartender for the party — especially if you’re hosting a more formal event like a wedding. In this case, you’ll want to check with that person to see if they have any specific needs. If you’re planning on doing it yourself, think of what cocktails you’d like to serve and then stock accordingly.
Regardless, it’s also a great idea to try to stock the drink table with various liquors, apéritifs, and spirits. People often have specific preferences on what they like to drink. Some guests may stay away from darker liquors in favor of lighter ones or vice versa. A good selection of options that can be used to make a variety of cocktails and can also be enjoyed on their own makes the best use of your budget.
High-quality vodka, tequila, white and dark rum, gin, a few specialty liquors, and apéritifs (like Haus Citrus Flower) are excellent options to start with.
However, remember that not everyone is a cocktail drinker. It’s always a good idea to have a few beer and seltzer options for your guests to choose from as well. Plus, it’s an easy addition that doesn’t require anything more than just removing a lid.
If in doubt, send out a quick survey to your guests and ask them what they prefer to drink! That way, you can stock appropriately and not waste money on liquors and spirits that won’t be enjoyed.
Tip 3. Have Options for Non-Drinkers, As Well
For some people, being in an environment where alcohol is flowing can be challenging for their sobriety. For others who just prefer not to drink alcohol (or children who aren’t old enough yet), sticking to water can be tedious. Having options for non-drinkers and former drinkers is a considerate thing to do.
Options such as lemonade, soda, and juice will be greatly appreciated. Plus, they can double as mixers. Everyone wins.
Tip 4. Let’s Talk Glassware and Barware
Whether you’re serving up Haus Rose Rosé on the rocks, margaritas, or glasses of rosé wine, you’ll want to be prepared with glassware that fits the occasion. Although it can be more convenient to use plastic cups, taking that extra step to ensure you have real glassware appropriate for the drinks you’ll be serving is another key to a drink table set up for party success.
Yes, you’ll have to do dishes after your event, and you may have to deal with broken glass, but your guests will be wowed that you put in the effort to think of all the little details.
You’ll also want to ensure that your drink table is stocked with appropriate barware. Essential barware to have on hand includes:
- Multiple shot glasses
- A stainless steel cocktail shaker
- A muddler
- A hand juicer
- A paring knife
- A strainer
- A stirring spoon
- A corkscrew
- A bottle opener
Tip 5. Know Your Cocktails
You don’t have to be a professional bartender to set up a quality drink table, but it doesn’t hurt to have at least a few cocktail recipes memorized (or in a recipe book to keep with you).
A basic understanding of the most popular cocktails recipes, like the old fashioned, Moscow mule, margarita, etc., can help you whip up drinks in no time. Having that knowledge not only helps you set up but also takes a lot of the stress off.
Tip 6. Don’t Forget the Water!
Let’s be honest — you probably don’t drink enough water normally, and especially not when you’re drinking alcohol. But don’t worry, you’re in good company! To help encourage people to stay hydrated when indulging, make sure to stock your drink table with bottled water. A water chaser will also minimize the risk of an uncomfortable hangover the morning after.
Plus, you want your guests to remember your party, right?
If you want to make your water a little more fun, pull out a pitcher or carafe and make flavored water! Strawberries, mint, cucumber, watermelon, lime, and lemon are all excellent additions that can make plain water extra delicious.
Tip 7. Have Low ABV Options
Everyone loves having a good night, but for some guests, that may not include heavy drinks or drinks with a high ABV. To ensure all your guests have a drink they can enjoy, include some lower ABV options at your drink table, such as Haus Lemon Lavender.
These lower ABV options still offer plenty of mixing options, but without the higher alcohol content. These drinks can also be an ideal way to start the evening or to help people slow down, take their time, and enjoy their night.
Tip 8. Other Miscellaneous Supplies To Keep on Hand
Once your drink table is put together and stocked with essentials, there are a few other supplies you’ll want to have on hand. Ice is obvious, but having an extra bag or cooler of ice would be an excellent idea. You’ll likely go through the ice a lot quicker than you anticipate!
Then there are other supplies like napkins and cocktail umbrellas that you can find to fit in with your theme. Feel free to go wild here — the more memorable, the better! We also strongly recommend that you have some way for guests to mark their drinks, like wine charms or labels.
In addition, don’t forget to stock your drink table with the other essential ingredients you’ll need to make your cocktails. Lemons and limes, to both juice and garnish, grenadine, and bitters (such as Angostura, Peychaud’s, and chocolate) are an excellent place to start.
The Key to Planning a Drink Table
Planning is the key to setting up your drink table for party success. You want to have a general idea of where you’ll be setting up your drink table, how many people you’re expecting, and what types of drinks they enjoy. That way, you can relax and enjoy your party without worrying!
After all, the point of any get-together is spending quality time with the important people in your life. Why not set yourself up to do as much of that as possible?