Ideas For Setting Up A Bar For Parties, Weddings, Baby Showers and Bachelorette Parties

You might be wondering how to set up a self-service bar that not only looks fantastic (after all, it must be social media worthy), but also ensures guest flow is smooth and drinks are easily served. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to set up your party bar. Of course, if you don’t want want to mess around with setting up your own bar, contact the Chesapeake Bartenders team, and we’ll take care of the set-up and clean up, so you don’t have to lift a finger!

How To Set Up A Beautiful Cocktail Bar For Your Party

  1. Is there a party or wedding theme? If so, you want to include the theme, colors, etc. This can easily be done through selecting cocktail napkins, straws and decor that matches the color and theme.
  2. Where will the bar be? Will it be outside on the patio? Or inside in the living room?
  3. Bar Supplies: Don’t forget to set out the bartending gear. Wine keys? Beer Openers? Ice Buckets? Ice Scoops?
  4. Tables and Bar Surface: Be sure to use tables that are STURDY. The items on the bar can weigh a lot, so you want to ensure the table(s) used are sturdy and level. Also, be sure to use table clothes to prevent water damage if you are setting up the bar on a nice table or surface.
  5. Drink Menu: Create a menu ahead of time to determine what libations you want to serve. Are you sticking to wine? Craft beer bottles? Mimosas? Or setting up a full bar?
  6. Setting up Alcohol: Be sure to set up wine bottles, beer, etc. in easy to reach places. For wine, chill whites and bubbles in large tubs with ice. If you set up a full bar, be sure to allow space between bottles, so people can easily pick them up and put them back without knocking over other bottles. Place mixers in one place, so guests can grab a glass, fill it with ice, pour liquor and then top it off with a mixer.
  7. Don’t forget the garnishes! Slice lemons, limes, olives, fruit, etc and put them in bowls or containers. Ensure there are toothpicks or serving utensils.
  8. Ice: One of the things we often see, is that those hosting parties and events make the same mistake. They underestimate the need for ice! Grab ice in bulk ahead of time, and keep excess ice in coolers, the freezer, or outside if the weather is below freezing.
  9. Picking up the booze: Call your local liquor store ahead of time. Often, they will offer discounts if you are purchasing a large order. Also, be sure to ask if the store will take back unopened bottles of wine, beer cases and alcohol so you can get a refund for leftover booze. Check your local state laws, as they may vary.
  10. Water: Don’t forget that people who are drinking, want access to water. Whether you choose individual water bottles, or filtered water in self serve pitchers, be sure to add water to the menu.

What Kind Of Bar Should You Set Up? Wine Bar? Sangria Bar? Bubbles Bar?

If you want to keep things simple yet festive, we highly recommend going with a wine bar, bubbles bar or sangria bar. These types of party bars are not only easy to set up, by easy to replenish and look beautiful. For a wine bar, just grab your favorite wines, some ice buckets for chilling, glassware or cups, supplies and boom! You have a wine bar. You can do the same set up to create a bubbles bar. A sangria bar is one of the most popular party bars, and for good reason. You can pre-make batches or red sangria, white sangria, sparkling sangria and holiday sangrias like apple cider sangrias. Guests can select their own fruit garnishes, which also double as beautiful decor elements on the sangria bar.

DIY Sangria Bar

Are you hosting a party or event in Maryland, DC, Delaware or Northern Virginia and want help setting up your bar?

Chesapeake Bartenders has you covered! We’ll come to the site of your event, party or wedding, and set up a beautiful bar display (sangria, wine, full bar, champagne bar, mimosa bar, etc.), with all the necessary supplies. This includes creating a beautiful display, easy to serve drinks (alcoholic, mixers, and non-alcoholic), straws, cups, beverage napkins, ice scoops, ice, coolers and more! We’ll even stay on call, to replenish supplies should you need us. Then, when your party is done, we’ll show up, clean up and whisk the bar away. Contact us for details or a free quote.

 

Love margaritas but looking to add a fun twist on a traditional margarita recipe? This pineapple cilantro marg is the perfect mix to please even the most discerning margarita connoisseurs. The more tart citrus (thanks to fresh orange and lime juice) compliments the sweetness of the pineapple juice, and the cilantro adds another layer of flavor that goes hand in hand with taco night. For those of you looking for a fun date night idea that includes staying in, make a pitcher of these delish pineapple cilantro margaritas, add a side of chips and guac and boom! Date night. Okay, maybe you want to have some tacos too? I know we would! The good news is that the cilantro is already chopped since you added it to your margarita batch.

Make a Pitcher of Pineapple Cilantro Margaritas:

  • Tequila (we used silver but use whatever kind you prefer)
  • Grand Marnier (we used 1 mini bottle)
  • Sour Mix (we prefer George’s margarita mix because it uses fresh lime juice and agave nectar)
  • 3 Limes
  • 1 Orange (or a clementine)
  • 1 small can of Dole’s pineapple juice (the individual size)
  • Small bunch of chopped cilantro

Step by Step Instructions to Make The Perfect Pitcher of Pineapple Cilantro Margaritas

  1. Fill 1/4 of pitcher with tequila
  2. Add 3/4 bottle of sour mix (standard bottle not a handle bottle)
  3. Add one small can of pineapple juice
  4. Squeeze one orange and add juice to pitcher. If you don’t have oranges, add 1/3 cup of orange juice
  5. Squeeze two limes and add juice to pitcher
  6. Add one mini bottle of Grand Marnier OR 2 oz Grand Marnier (you can substitute Triple Sec or any orange liquer)
  7. Add a 1/4 cup of freshly chopped cilantro.
  8. Stir
  9. Fill glass with ice. Salt rim if preferred.
  10. Pour margarita over ice.
  11. Sip. Enjoy. Repeat.

We know you will love this easy margarita recipe. Please comment below if you make it, and let us know what you think! Chesapeake Bartenders is proud to be an Annapolis bartending company serving the greater DC and Mid-Atlantic area. For quotes on wedding bartenders, party rentals and more, please contact us!

How To Make An Old Fashioned With or Without All The Fancy Ingredients

If you are stuck at home due to COVID-19, and want something other than a beer or glass of wine, read on! Here’s a classic cocktail recipe that is easier to make than you think. The Old Fashioned. A crowd-pleaser and favorite of generations of whiskey-lovers. Here is the easy, no-fuss recipe so you can enjoy a yummy libation while stuck at home.

You can make an “Almost Old Fashioned” with these 4 ingredients:

  1. Whiskey/Bourbon
  2. Maple Syrup or Simple Syrup
  3. Oranges or Orange Juice
  4. Ice

Full list of ingredients for the classic Old Fashioned:

  • Whiskey/bourbon
  • Orange, mandarin, clementine or orange juice (lemon can be substituted for oranges)
  • Marashino cherries (if you don’t have these, you can use blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc. If they are frozen, just pop them into microwave to thaw them out)
  • Sugar + Water OR maple syrup OR agave nectar
  • Bitters (not everyone has this at home, but don’t worry if you don’t)
  • Ice
  • Spoon or muddler

*If you don’t have all of these ingredients, don’t fret! You can still get close to the classic recipe with a little creativity.

Follow These Simple Steps To Make Your Old Fashioned:

1. Mix boiling water & a heaping spoonful of sugar. Stir. Don’t have sugar? Maple syrup or agave nectar work well.

2. If you have an orange, peel + put a few slices in the bottom of your glass. If not, add 2 oz. orange juice. No OJ? Substitute fresh lemon. Take a spoon + smash the orange (or lemon) gently to squeeze the juice out. If you have cherries, add 2 & do the same. Don’t have cherries? Substitute any kind of berry. Cherries/berries are not necessary but if you have them, use them – they make this drink yummy.

3. Add 1 TBSP of the sugar water (aka simple syrup) you made to the muddled fruit. If you are subbing maple syrup or agave nectar, add this on top of fruit.

4. Stir and Add ice cubes.

5. Add 2 oz. whiskey/bourbon

6. If you have bitters, add a few drops. If you don’t, don’t worry. It will still be delicious.

7. Stir slightly.

8. Sip, relax and enjoy your homemade Old Fashioned!

 

Be sure to read other blog posts with creative drink recipes. Chesapeake Bartenders is proud to be the go-to event bartending company for weddings, events and private parties in Maryland, DC, Virginia and Delaware. For more information, please contact us

 

Wedding planning can be daunting, and when it comes to finding and hiring wedding bartenders, it’s no different. The reception is one of the biggest wedding expenses, and keeping guests and the bridal party happy with beer, wine and drinks is usually high on the priority list. Finding the right bartender for your wedding depends on many factors like – the size of your wedding, state liquor laws, your budget and the wedding theme. Generally speaking, there are some pretty standard guidelines for hiring wedding bartenders.

This article is written by Courtney Smith, Co-Owner and Founder of Chesapeake Bartenders, based in Maryland. 

What kind of bar service do you want at your wedding?

Talk to your significant other about what kind of alcohol service they envision. Do you both love craft beer? Do you have a favorite shot? Does the groom love Skrewball whiskey because it reminds him of you? Will there be signature wedding drinks? An ongoing trend we are seeing is the beer and wine only bar, with His and Hers drinks.

Does your wedding venue allow outside vendors, caterers and bartenders?

While this may seem obvious, I cannot tell you how many times people request a wedding bartending quote from our team, before they speak to the venue about whether or not outside vendors are allowed. Simply put, some venues require you to use their catering team, photographers, etc. which means you cannot hire a company like Chesapeake Bartenders to tend bar for your wedding. Once you find out your venue does allow outside vendors, then you can proceed with finding professional bartenders.

Ask about certifications and state laws

It is really important to hire bartenders that are certified and understand at least basic liquor laws in their state. Why? Liquor laws are not something you want your wedding bartenders…or you, to be violating. While you might be tempted to hire your favorite bartender from the dive bar down the street, sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry. For example, in Maryland where we are headquartered, event bartenders are not required to be certified but it is highly recommended they have something called a TIPS certification. This means they have taken an in-depth training on liquor laws, signs of over serving, and liability. In Delaware, the laws are even more strict and might require a separate liquor license for your wedding. In hiring professional bartenders, you can be assured they know the state and local laws, and are abiding by them – but of course ask any and all questions to be sure!

Look at online reviews +  ask for references

Do some due diligence and look at sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. to see what their customers have to say about them. While online reviews are not everything, and may not be 100% accurate, at least it should give you an idea on the kind of service they provide.

Find out what is included in the company’s bartending packages

This one might not seem so obvious. You reach out, you ask for a quote, and that’s it right? Well, this is your wedding we are talking about, so there are important details to address. A good wedding bartending company will ask questions like: “how many guests will you have?” or “do you need us to provide equipment like the bar, coolers, linens, etc.?” You want to know exactly what is included, so you don’t end up assuming they are providing something they don’t provide. For example, will they have classy-looking ice bins and ice scoops to use in drinks? Do they provide a printed menu listing the cocktails? How many tables do they provide? These details are important, and you don’t want to glaze over them.

Is the liquor provided by the bartending company?

This is a very important one. Again, laws are going to vary greatly state to state. In Maryland, DC, Delaware and DC, where we provide wedding bartending services, it is very much illegal for our company to provide alcohol in our bartending packages. Why? We do not have a liquor license, because our bartenders do not do any cash transactions for alcohol. Simply put, we do not “sell alcohol.” We provide the service of pouring alcohol. We provide a separate quote for alcohol from a reputable alcohol retailer, and the guest purchases the alcohol directly through them. Other states might be different, but in these states, if a bartender includes alcohol or “all you can drink” in any of their packages, it should raise a red flag. Be sure to look up state laws regarding who needs to have a liquor license to sell alcohol. The wedding venue you choose will likely be well-versed in the liquor laws pertaining to their venue, so be sure to double check with them as well.

Schedule a site visit with your wedding bartenders

Any good wedding bartender will want to know all the in’s and out’s of your venue. If there is a bar provided, they will want to see it, in order to see the size, set up and “flow.” Often, site visits for weddings are included in event bartending contracts, because it is ideal to know every detail prior to the wedding. Where will the bartenders park? Where will they load the equipment? Is there an on-site event planner they will be working with the day of your wedding? All these details need to be seen in person, in order to really determine the bar set up and beverage catering flow.

I hope these tips helped you find a bartender for your wedding. Wishing you much happiness. Cheers! 


If you would like a quote from our wedding bartending team, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch: