15 Holiday Party Tips For Stocking Your Bar!

15 Holiday Party Tips For Stocking Your Bar!

I’m super ADD, so for each event I throw, it won’t surprise you to learn that I document EXACTLY how much was eaten, drank, broken, spilled, and so forth. By doing this, I can average out how much Ketel One Vodka we poured versus Absolut or Stockholm Krystal. The same goes for mixers and bags of ice. What does this all mean??? That when it comes to stocking your bar for a holiday party, I’m an expert! Here are some rules of thumb to follow for your next bash:

ICE IT UP!

2 lbs. per person for serving and chilling and more if you need some to keep food cold. Get it delivered AT LEAST 1 hour before the party begins, but not too long before because you don’t want it to melt. Just give them a little extra cush in case they’re late getting to your house. You’ll want your ice cubed or crushed, not liquid, so keep it out of the sun and store it in a cool place if there are no extra freezers.

WINE LIST

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There are 4.5 glasses of wine in each bottle. If you’ll be serving other alcoholic drinks, bank on one bottle of wine serving two people. These days, you should buy equal amounts of red and white wine (adjust accordingly depending on your menu or if you know guest preferences.) That means, if you have 40 guests, purchase 15 bottles of white and 15 bottles of red. Yes, you’ll have leftovers. But it’s better than running out and you can use the leftover wine for your next event.

BOTTLES OF BEER

When it comes to stocking your bar with beer, pick one regular and one light beer. Choose beers that are universally popular and count on 1 bottle per person.

SODA POP

We usually go with the usual cast of characters everyone knows: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite. Sometimes we add in Orange Crush or Root Beer for a retro cool factor if it’s a casual event. One 2-liter bottle serves 10-12 people. This assumes you’re not stocking your bar with 20-oz. glasses and that people will be drinking other beverages as well. If all you’re serving are three types of soda (and OMG why would you do that?!), increase this amount!

BOTTLED WATER

Pick one flat and one sparkling. It’s good to have some on hand in case guests don’t want to drink alcohol or soda. With a plethora of water options on the market, you can decide if San Pelligrino or Perrier is in order for the type of event and guests you’ll be serving, or if you can make do with a less expensive brand. Guests make assumptions about the kind of brands you put on display. If you’re trying to make a good impression, don’t have the Costco brand visible, but rather keep it behind the bar.

LIQUOR (It’s Where The Fun Begins!)

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For your full “basic bar” you’ll want vodka, gin, rum (light and dark), tequila, triple sec, and whiskey (BTW, my favorite vodka is Skyy. It’s not the highest end, but I don’t care because I swear it will never give you a hangover no matter how many cocktails you have!) Plan on getting 15 drinks out of one 750ml bottle. These portions are generous, but the last thing you want, is to have to run to the supermarket in the middle of your party! Because once the alcohol runs out, the party is over!

STOCKING YOUR BAR WITH MIXERS

99% of the time people will ask for at least one of the following: tonic water, club soda, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, and orange juice. While not cheap, fresh squeezed citrus juices are ALWAYS the way to go rather than bottled juices when stocking your bar. Unless you have some serious budget crisis happening (we’ll get to that later!), fresh squeeze your juice.

DRINK GARNISHES

Limes, lemons, oranges, olives, and onions are the standards. If you’re having specialty drinks that require other accouterments you might need pineapple, maraschino cherries, celery (for a Bloody Mary) or fresh herbs. Craft cocktails look lovely with a sprig of thyme or rosemary. For champagne cocktails consider floating cranberries. And don’t forget the fine sugar for rimming glasses!

THE QUICK CHILL

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Chill a bottle quickly by filling a bucket with half ice, half cold water. This really brings the temperature down quickly and also makes it easier to get the bottle in the bucket.

DOUBLE DUTY GLASSES

Invest in multipurpose glasses that can be used for drinks, dessert, décor, and more!

BAR LOCATION

When it comes to stocking your bar, you’ve also got to take into consideration the location of the bar. Will it be indoors or outdoors? Figure in the preferences of your friends and clients. If you know you’ve got some serious boozehounds attending, stock up on a little extra. If you want to make the liquor last longer, place the bar in the back of the room. If you know your friends love martinis, buy more olives. Experience is the best teacher, so pay attention to what’s left at the end.

DON’T MIX UP DIRTY ICE!

Who knew your ice had a naughty streak?! When stocking your bar for a party, make sure you don’t put wine bottles into the drinking ice! You never know what could be lurking on the bottoms of those bottles and cans! What else can I tell you about ice? Ice is cheap! (Sorry, Ice!) If you’re having a smaller get together and won’t be using bags of ice, jazz up your ice cubes with fun ice tray shapes (blocks, spheres, flowers, hearts, etc.) Or create color by freezing chunks of fruit in your ice like strawberries and mint leaves, blueberries, or lemon wedges.

LIMITED BAR BUDGET ALERT!

If you don’t have the money to offer a full bar, create one or two signature cocktails and serve them in fancy pitchers or dispensers. You can also find great buys with case discounts on wine. Again, depending on the occasion and time of day you’re hosting your bash, you can create clever mixed drinks that look expensive but actually aren’t. Inexpensive Prosecco mixed with pomegranate or cranberry juice makes for a beautiful champagne cocktail.

Or, you can create a self-serve Bloody Mary Bar using inexpensive vodka and tomato juice bought in bulk from Costco. Simply mix the base drink in a pitcher and then present beautiful garnish options and spice sauces so guests can make their own Mary.

Spice Up The Next Party With A Bloody Mary Bar!

I offer Bloody Mary bars at a lot of my parties because Bloody Mary cocktails are versatile and pair with everything from tacos and burgers to seafood, appetizers, or flatbread pizzas. Garnishes can include: celery, olives, lemon wedges, lime wedges, cocktail onions, carrots, bacon (yes, bacon!), cucumber slices, pineapple, pickles, mushrooms, shrimp, baby potatoes, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and basil leaves.

Punch is another way to save on liquor costs. If you’re having a Christmas cocktail party consider having a punch bowl with a signature cocktail made from inexpensive liquors and juices. And don’t forget! Eggnog is not just for the geezers anymore! Dressed up with nutmeg and spiced rum, it’s a delicious holiday drink!

STICK IT!

Don’t forget the cocktail pics! There are so many fun pics nowadays at cooking stores, liquor stores, and even the supermarket. From metal pics with decorative tops to plastic and wood sticks with frilly paper fruits and flowers, they make your drinks a party in itself!

CLASSIC VINTAGE COCKTAILS

At the holidays, I love serving traditional drinks. If you’re wondering how to make classic cocktails, here are some recipes to get you started:

Sidecar

2 oz. Cognac or Brandy

¾ oz. Grand Marnier

¾ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Serve straight up (without ice) with a twist of orange or lemon.

Old Fashioned

2 oz. Bourbon or Rye Whiskey

2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters

1 Sugar Cube

Place sugar cube in old fashioned glass and add 2 to 3 dashes of bitters. Muddle until dissolved. Fill the glass with a few large ice cubes and add whiskey. Garnish with orange peel and a cherry.

 Hemingway Daiquiri

2 oz. White Rum

½ oz. Fresh Lime Juice

¼ oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice

¼ oz. Simple Sugar

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Serve straight up (without ice) with a twist of orange or lemon.

Martini

2 ½ oz. Dry Gin

½ oz. Dry Vermouth

Green Olives

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Serve straight up (without ice) and garnish with an olive (or two!)

 Manhattan

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon Whiskey

1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

2 to 3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Maraschino Cherry

Orange Peel

Add whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters to a shaker or glass with a few ice cubes, and then gently shake. Strain Manhattan into a chilled glass and garnish with cherry and orange peel.

What’s your best bar tip for hosting a party? Let us know in the comments below!

2 responses to “15 Holiday Party Tips For Stocking Your Bar!”

  1. I like your idea to get decorative drink pics to make your drink a party! My husband and I are interested in having a custom bar installed in our home, and I’d love to have a party to celebrate the unveiling. Using decorative pics in the drinks would be a nice touch, so thanks for sharing that suggestion!

    • Of course! Thanks for reading our blog! And hey, I’m up for a party to celebrate anything so a party to celebrate the unveiling of your custom bar is the perfect reason to throw a party! We’d love to see photos of the celebration so be sure to tag us on social media!

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Welcome to my sparkly world as a celebrity event planner, TV contributor & author obsessed with Louboutins, glitter + travel. Forever in search of the perfect donut. If you like something pin it!

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