How to set up and stock an outdoor bar

Will Watts
A well-stocked outdoor bar can keep guests in good spirits.

Summer is here, pool or beach party anyone?

Outdoor entertaining encourages us to mingle in the fresh air. Backyard spaces generally are larger and more accommodating to big crowds, which means the fun does not have to be stifled by limited space inside.

Outdoor parties also are usually more informal, which makes cleaning up a lot easier.

While food is one of the main considerations for outdoor soirees, beverages must also be kept in mind. A well-stocked outdoor bar can keep guests in good spirits.

These tips can help ensure everyone stays hydrated and comfortable while having fun.

Find your location

The bar should be close enough to the action, but in a spot that is shaded and cool. This will work with the ice and coolers used to keep the beverages and garnishes chilled. Consider a shady spot or an area of the yard that can be covered by a canopy or umbrella.

Make it accessible

The bar should be easily accessed by guests. If beverages are self-service, ensure that the bottles and glasses can be reached from all sides. This also helps when people congregate around the bar, leaving another area where others can pop in simply to refresh their drinks. It might make sense to have one main bar as well as a smaller bar cart in another area of the yard.

Invest in quality supplies

In addition to a sturdy bar itself (or a table/counter used for the bar), hosts and hostesses will need other supplies. Quality coolers can be used to keep ice available and house canned beverages, like soft drinks and beer. A small cooler can be used to chill fruit juices, mixers and the other ingredients for classic mixed drinks.

Liquor also is needed for those who plan to serve adults. Make sure to invest in a variety of products, including whiskey, bourbon, vodka, gin, rum, and tequila. These liquors are used for the majority of mixed drinks or those served neat or on the rocks. Display the liquor selection on the bar so guests know what is available.

Make it unbreakable

Disposable plastic cups are convenient, but not very green or decorative. High-quality, reusable plastic tumblers and goblets can look like glass, but are safer for use outdoors when thereÕs the risk of dropping items. Certain drinks are traditionally served in specific types of glasses, so it is a good to stock up on various sizes and shapes. Routinely scour the yard for empty cups so they can be washed and refreshed.

In addition to alcoholic beverages, offer self-serve dispensers of water, iced tea, lemonade, and other offerings. Ensure kids stay away from adult drinks by setting up their own mini-bar of juice boxes and other kid-friendly beverages.