Bartending Tips

Planning a party involves enough detail that many people simply don’t bother. If you want to give hosting a party a try, keep the details as simple as possible for best results.

Bartending Tips

If drinking is a part of the party, allocate one person to be responsible for all beverage-related planning, shopping, and setting up. Keep these bartending tips in mind for a more relaxed event.

Plan a simple drink menu but have enough of each beverage on hand to last through to the end of the party. Today’s host can safely plan on serving beer, wine, and one festive cocktail, if desired.

Use that one festive cocktail as the basis for any other beverages made with hard liquors. For example, Martinis are quite popular. The traditional Martini is made from gin and dry vermouth but vodka (and dry vermouth) is popular, too. Mix up pitchers of Martinis but allow guests to have gin and tonic highballs, if desired. Many drinkers enjoy vermouth on the rocks in short glasses, too.

Stretch the vodka by also offering orange, grapefruit, or tomato juices as mixers. Tonic water and club soda are also refreshing with vodka, especially with a squeeze of lime or lemon. If at all possible, keep vodka in the freezer, especially if Martinis are made to order or vodka is enjoyed straight. Keep pitchers of pre-made pitchers in the freezer, the refrigerator, or in an ice bucket or cooler but never store them with ice in them.

Whatever the beverage menu, ice is a must. Almost all adult beverages are best chilled or iced so have plenty of ice on hand. Outdoor parties in the summer months call for more ice than indoor parties and those during colder months. A crowd of heavy drinkers will go through more ice than a less-thirsty crowd, too.

Garnishes make even simple drinks more festive so prep plenty and do it before guests start arriving. Have a garnish tray handy at the bar area but keep another tray or two in the refrigerator ready to go.

If at all possible, drape a tablecloth over the bar table and make sure it’s long enough to touch the floor on the three sides facing the party. Use below-the-table space for storage – back-up booze, extra napkins, straws, glasses, garbage can, bar towels, extra beer bottle openers and corkscrews, a rack or tub for empty glasses, whatever. Share this tip with the person in charge of the food table, too.

Self-serve bars can get out of hand quickly. This set-up frequently means drinks are made too strong so liquor disappears really fast and so do many guests’ social graces. Sloppiness here means lots of cleaning up and spilled drinks. If at all possible, assign someone to play bartender or at least keep a watchful eye and be ready to step in when needed.

Perhaps one of the best bartending tips to keep in mind is to watch your guests for signs of overindulgence, especially if they plan to drive themselves home. Have a pot of coffee, water, and non-alcoholic beverages available to slow the pace and offer food to anyone showing signs of intoxication.

Liquor laws across the country increasingly include the in-home party as sources of violation. In a growing number of municipalities, the host can be held legally responsible for letting guests drive when they shouldn’t. Protect yourself by having a plan to keep guests overnight or to get them home safely if they have too much fun. Have a designated driver on call or call a cab to keep all party memories happy ones.