Happy almost 4th of July, patriots!
Last week we shared that, over the next month, we will be giving you the tools for successfully planning and executing the perfect backyard wedding. Today we are kicking off this series by going straight to the ‘hard stuff.’ Yes, in case my poorly placed pun didn’t give it away, today we’re guiding you through setting up your bar! Let’s not beat around the bush, making sure your bar is ready-for-business is vital to keeping your guests celebrating all night long! This is true with any wedding, but with a home-based event, there is a little more to it. It is likely that although your catering team will be manning the bar, the hosts are usually responsible for supplying everything needed to keep the bar running. Because the bar is a staple to almost any event, there are some important items to remember when tackling this task. You have to get the details right the first time, as your home isn’t a restaurant or professional venue with ample liquor, glassware, ice and mixers in the back. If you don’t bring it to the party, it won’t be there when the bartenders need it.
Setting Up Your Bar
Let’s start at the beginning, with what goes behind the bar. You’ll need two tables with linens: one for the back bar (where the bartenders keep everything from liquor to glassware) and one table on risers to create the front of the bar (you don’t want your bartenders breaking their backs as they serve your guests, so the risers are important). You will want to make sure the linens go all the way to the ground so that they can hide all the business going on within the confines of the bar. Now let’s talk buckets: you will need between 5-8 of these (lined with trash bags) to store and chill all your champagne, white wine, beer and soda. You will also need trash bins and bags to dispose of all your used containers and bottles (don’t forget to recycle)! You’ll need to make sure the bar is stocked with obvious things like glassware, mixers, and liquor, but be sure not to forget the wine keys, bottle openers, cocktail shakers, strainers and garnishes. Let’s take a moment and think through what you will need at the bar if you choose to have mojitos available at your wedding (did somebody say ‘designer cocktail?’)! On top of the rum and club soda you will already have on hand for a full bar, you also need to make sure you have limes, sugar, and mint leaves. These are the ingredients needed for creating the perfect mojito, but it doesn’t stop there! Your bartenders will still need a muddler to release the mint and lime flavors into the drink (YUM!). As you can see there are a lot of details that go into crafting a single drink, so you want to make sure you have all the ingredients and tools—especially for your signature drink!
Now that you have all the ingredients and tools, we want to make sure you have enough to keep the party going! The cold hard truth of hosting a backyard wedding is that if you don’t bring it, it will not be there! Since all weddings have their own menu and guest list particularities, we aren’t able to tell you in this series exactly how much wine, beer, spirits, mixers and garnishes to have on hand. Therefore, you will want to check with your wedding planner and caterer to make sure you have enough! However, what we can give you is a heads-up on is that vodka and tequila are always the first liquors to go, so be prepared! Another factor to consider when buying wine for your event is the weather. When it’s warmer outside, people tend to drink more white varieties, whereas in cooler weather guests tend to go through more red. Although not as exciting as ‘the fun stuff’, it is also important to make sure you have enough water for your guests! Be sure to check with your caterer to see who is providing what and where it will be staged (at the bar, on tables, at a self-serve station, etc). Regardless of the setup, you do not want to run out of water! Overall, it’s better to have too much of everything than too little!
Last, but absolutely not least, another important bar component to consider is all things relating to ice! You need to know who is bringing it, when it is arriving, and how much you will need. A good rule of thumb is about 2.5 pounds per guest. Remember, you will need ice not only to chill beverages behind the bar, but also to go in water glasses at the table! When working out ice logistics there are two things you need to think through: timing and location. The delivery of your ice should go in-tandem with the arrival of your bartenders. Remember that ice melts and if no one is available to do anything with it upon delivery, it is going to be a bad scene! And once it gets to you, you need to have a plan for where all that ice is going. Ice is heavy and trails water everywhere! You will want to make sure you have designated coolers to store it until the time comes to transfer the ice to the bar (in those lined buckets we mentioned earlier) for chilling!