There are three ways you can go when you throw a cocktail party. The Full Bar, where you’ll have a wide selection of booze, beer, wine and mixings. The Theme Bar, something like “Champagne Cocktails” or “Bloody Marys” that only requires a limited selection of liquor. Or a “Signature Cocktail” bar, where you offer just two or three specific cocktails. But whichever approach you choose, always have plenty of water on hand and some non-alcoholic beverages.
Pretty self explanatory; you’ll have a sufficiently extensive choice so you can offer your guests just about anything they might like to drink. However, unless you also have fairly extensive financial means this may not be the right option for you. It’s also a good idea to hire a professional bartender. Guests who pour their own drinks can get heavy handed, and your best buddy may be willing to help out but rarely does this work once he or she realizes they’re missing all the fun.
Simpler to plan and set up and less strain on the old bank account but with so many creative things you can do.
“Champagne Cocktails” is great for New Year’s Eve, weddings and many other special occasions. Set up a table with a few bottles of decent dry bubbly. I’ve seen Freixenet Brut Cava (a Spanish sparkler) for as little as $10. Offer several choices of syrup – Torani and Monin have everything from citrus to berry to spicy and nutty. With peach puree your guests can make a Bellini; orange juice for mimosas; sugar cubes and angostura bitters for a classic champagne cocktail; sorbet for something frothy and different.
A “Bloody Mary” bar could include tequila as well as the staple vodka. In addition to tomato juice, offer V8 and clamato juice. Fixin’s might be celery salt, hot sauces, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, Cajun seasoning, lime cordial, fresh lemon and lime juice, salt and pepper. Then you’ll need garnishes such as celery sticks, olives, ginger, pickled okra or green beans.
You could do a Mojito Bar, Margaritas or Cosmos With A Twist. Just get creative!
Signature Cocktail Bar:
Decide on the drinks you’d like to serve. There can still be a theme to your choices – retro, wedding, seasonal, tropical, etc. Offer at least two options and make them varied, if not polar opposites. For instance, if you have a Whiskey Sour, pair it with a beverage that’s sweet with a base other than whiskey, like a Pink Squirrel or even a San Martin. You could keep it even more simple with martinis and manhattans.
Have fun! But remember, never let any of your guests drive home drunk.