The Perfect Bar Setup for Cocktail Parties

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on creating the ultimate bar setup and host unforgettable cocktail parties!

Whether you're planning a private gathering, corporate event, or special celebration, utilizing the right event rentals can transform your space into a sophisticated and inviting ambiance.

In this article, we'll explore the essential tips, tricks, and photo suggestions to help you plan and execute a successful event. Let's dive in!

Crafting the Bar Setup

It’s best to have a standing height bar for the bartender. This will avoid leaning over for hours on end. This may become very uncomfortable for long periods of time. 

Not all bars are created equal. There are many pros and cons to consider when renting your Bar. Ideally your bar will have an ice-well or at least room for ice on station.  Also its important to have some storage room on the bar for bottles and supplies.

Bar Styles:

Rustic Wood Bar

Rustic Wood Bar Lonsdale Event Rentals is proud to offer our rustic wood bar. The perfect addition to any event

White Plexiglass Bar

Our Sky Bars offer a clean and chic look. The bars are made with white plexiglass panels that are framed in chrome. There is a interior shelf located on the inside of the bar. Multiple units can be pushed together to make longer bars as needed.

Black Skirted Folding Bar

This is the most commonly used bar. It consists of three pieces; a black laminated folding bar top, a black laminated folding table and a black pleated skirt. The bar top mounts on top of the table with attachable legs, and the skirt fully wraps around the front and side of the bar with Velcro.  

Portable Beverage Bar

Elevate your event with our versatile Portable Beverage Bar. Crafted from durable black plastic, it offers seamless mobility on four wheels. Equipped with three shelves and an integrated sink basin, it's perfect for easy drink prep and storage. Optimize your hosting experience today! All other accessories in photo not included, but some can be rented separately.

Essential Bar Items:

Shot Glass, 1oz

1 oz shot glass, a necessity for any bar or rounds of shots. Alternately used as appetizer serving. Must be rented in increments of 10.

Cocktail Plate w/ Stemmed Glass Holder, 7″ x 7″

The perfect cocktail party appetizer plate. This 7" square ceramic plate holds your wine glass in the plate. This allows you to have one hand to hold your glass and plate of food and the other hand to eat with. Must be rented in increments of 10.

Stainless Steel Ice Scoop

  Small, stainless steel ice scoop. Mainly used as a bar accessory to portion out ice into glasses. It will hold approximately 6 ice cubes. Measures 9" long (scoop alone is 5" by 3").

Large Plastic Ice Scoop

  Large, clear plastic utility ice scoop. Mainly used to scoop out large quantities of ice from an ice caddy. Holds 64oz.

Filled Rolling Ice Caddy, 100Lb Capacity

Includes 75lbs of ice. Thermally insulated black plastic box on wheels with removable hinged cover and drain at the base. It will hold approx. 40 bottles of wine or 90 cans of beer. It holds up to 100 pounds of ice and will keep ice cold for up to 18 hours. Outside measures 19" wide, 19" long, 20" deep.

RETAIL: Speed Spout , 6 Pack

Chrome speed spout with black plastic stopper. Used to be inserted into liquor bottles to provide a smooth, even pour. Packed in quantity of 6's

Bar Drip Tray, 23″ x 3″

This essential black rubber drip tray is used to pour drinks on to prevent spillage on the bar. It has hundreds of small rubber-like fingers that keep the glass raised above the liquid reservoir. Measures 3" wide by 23" long by 3/4" thick.

Corkscrew / Bottle Opener

This is the classic bartenders bottle opener & corkscrew. It slices, dices, uncorks & pops. Plastic casing over metal reinforced interior.

Cocktail Shaker, 3 Piece Set

Stainless steel shaker with a glass partner and a stainless steel strainer. 16oz glass measures 7" by 3" with a slightly larger stainless steel shaker cup. Comes with strainer cover.

Terry Cloth Bar Towel

White 16" x 18" utility Terri Cloth rental bar towel with green stripe. Used for general clean up.

If the floor the bartender is standing on is smooth, it could become very dangerous when it inevitably gets wet. You must ensure you avoid any slipping so it’s highly recommended to have a bar mat to stand on.

TIP: Do not serve ice for drinks from your main ice storage. Use a large scoop to move ice onto a smaller ice bin (or ice well) for service.  This avoids contamination if a glass breaks or liquid is spilled potentially spoiling all of the ice.

It will be important to have a secondary table for the bar to store the glassware and other items needed. This could be a standard height rectangle table and usually would be a 6”x30” or an 8”x30” table. This will be important for the bartender to keep backups out of the way, leaving amble room for making drinks.

How much glassware is enough?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked, and while there is no one right answer for this, there are a few tips to ensure you do not run out.

Let’s assume your guests will consume 2 drinks in the first hour, and 1 drink every hour after that. (this is accurate for a 3 - 4 hour bar service). This will balance out the people who continue to drink and the people who stop drinking.

Here is another example. For a 2-hour cocktail party with 100 guests, we recommend an average of 2.5 glasses per person. However, it's always a good idea to have a few extra glasses on hand to account for unforeseen circumstances or breakages. With this in mind, here is the recommended quantity for each type of glassware for a 2 hour cocktail party:

40 x Martini Glasses or Beer/Multi-purpose Glasses
60 x Old Fashioned Glasses
100 x Wine Glasses (red and white)
50 x Champagne Flutes

Other Factors to Consider

Glassware can also differ depending on the age group, how much drinking and what is being consumed.  

Another factor to consider is if your event is an “Open Bar” meaning guests do not have to pay for their drinks. In this style of service,  It’s more likely your guests will be willing to use the same glass for several trips to the bar. However when guests are paying for each drink, most likely they will prefer a fresh glass for their beverage and would be considered proper etiquette.

Portrait of barman adding ingredients and creating cocktail drinks on bar counter

Popular Glassware Options

For a well-rounded cocktail party, it's essential to have a variety of glassware options to accommodate different types of drinks. Here are some key glassware suggestions:

  • Highball Glasses: Highball glasses are versatile and suitable for serving a wide range of cocktails, such as mojitos, gin and tonics, and screwdrivers.
  • Beer Glass: Classic tall, tapered pilsner glass. Typically used for pilsner or pale lager, although it can be used for any beer. The slender shape helps reveal the color, and carbonation of the beer.
  • Double Rocks: Old fashioned glasses, also known as rocks glasses, are ideal for serving whiskey-based cocktails, such as an old fashioned or a whiskey sour.
  • Moscow Mule: Moscow Mule Mugs will make your Moscow Mule or other specialty drinks stand out! Finished in a true copper coating.
  • Margarita Glass: This is the traditional glass for Margarita straight-up or frozen. This is also a great glass for serving desserts, such as scooped gelato. 6.25″ tall.
  • Martini Glass: Martini glasses are elegant and perfect for serving classic martinis, cosmopolitans, and other sophisticated cocktails.
  • Shot Glass: 1 oz shot glass, a necessity for any bar or rounds of shots. Alternately used as appetizer serving.
  • Wine Glasses: Include both red and white wine glasses to cater to guests' preferences. Stemmed glasses are generally preferred for wine service.
  • Champagne Flutes: Champagne flutes are essential for toasting and serving sparkling wines or champagne-based cocktails.
Additional Tips:
  • It's advisable to have a separate glassware station or designated area where guests can return their used glasses, allowing for easy cleanup and minimizing the risk of breakages.

  • Consider renting a glassware rack or storage solution to keep the glasses organized and readily accessible for bartenders or servers.

  • If your cocktail party includes a seated dinner portion, you will need additional glassware for water, table wine or specialty drink pairings.

Having an adequate supply of glassware is essential to ensure a seamless and enjoyable cocktail party experience for your guests. By following our recommendations and renting the appropriate quantity and types of glassware, you'll be well-prepared to serve a variety of delicious cocktails and beverages, allowing your guests to fully immerse themselves in the festivities.

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