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Style Expert

Belly Up to an Outdoor Bar

Setting up a bar for an outdoor party is one of the things that really makes me happy. Why? 1, I love a great cocktail and 2, I love, love, love to ply my guests with alcohol, yes sir-eee.

Setting up a bar is really EASY!

What you will need is:

  1. 4’ to 6’ folding table
  2. One lovely tablecloth. I prefer a solid color, as it just makes the set-up look more crisp and professional.
  3. Keep the drink choices simple. Make one signature cocktail and put it in a pitcher, like a gimlet. Offer wine, beer, soft drinks, and plenty of water. I like a nice pitcher of water instead of bottled water. Stack all the bottles under the table and only have a few on top of the table. Keep the look of the bar clean.
  4. Have a big container of ice on hand. I use a repurposed bucket for this, a galvanized one is really a great choice. (Line it with a plastic garbage bag then dump in the ice.) Place it behind the bar.
  5. One tray with glasses. I like stemless wine glasses as they work great with wine, as well as mixed drinks.
  6. A stack of fun paper cocktail napkins. It can be the same color as the tablecloth or a complementary color. I like plain napkins, as having no pattern keeps the look crisp.
  7. I love a small flower arrangement, a tea light, or sometimes both … a continuation of the festive theme.
  8. Get one person to man the bar. I always think it’s perfect to ask a college student (over 21) to tend bar. Have your designated bartender wear a white shirt and black pants for a neat, professional look.

Set up your bar well ahead of time (in the morning, first thing). Add the ice, chilled bottles of wine, and ice water right before guests arrive.  Have your bartender make you a drink and get ready to greet your guests!

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