How to Set Up a Home Bar

Here are some pointers on how to set up your home bar. Whether you are serving guests in your home for a cocktail party, or setting up a bar for wedding guests, these tips will help keep it running smoothly.

How to situate the bar

Keep the bar as far as possible from your food and snacks. Doing so prevents large groups of people from staying in one area. If possible, base a wine and beer bar in one area and a cocktail bar in another.

Cleaning up spills is much easier if the bar is in your kitchen. What's more, you do less running around when you're close to the sink and refrigerator. If you have to set up your bar in another location, put a small mat under and behind the bar to protect the floor or carpet. And no matter where your bar is, use a strong, steady table to avoid tipping.

Serve smartly

Your party will run smoothly and your guests will be happy if you take the following suggestions to heart:

  • Use nothing larger than a shot glass for shots, and don't serve doubles to your guests. You aren't doing anyone any favors by overserving. If a recipe calls for 1½ oz. of vodka, use just that amount. No mixed drink should exceed 2 oz. of liquor.

  • Use lower-proof products if they're available.

  • Have punch available for those “light” drinkers.

  • Have alcohol-free drinks available, including coffee and tea.

  • Use only clean, fresh ice and fresh fruit.

  • If possible, chill glasses and don't put them out until five minutes before the party begins.

  • When serving hot drinks, make sure that the cups or glasses have handles.

  • Use a scoop, tongs, or a large spoon to serve ice. Never use your hands.

  • If you don't have bottle pourers, rub waxed paper over the tip of liquor bottles to prevent dripping.

  • Use a champagne bucket or any type of small bucket to dump out any extra liquid or ice from your shakers.

  • Close the bar an hour to an hour and a half before the end of the party.

  • If possible, hire a professional bartender.

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