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Setting the Bar

Lisa Romerein
Create the ultimate bar with these tips from caterers and party planners.

Caterers and party planners know the key to a successful event is keeping things moving. Establish a separate bar area away from the food to encourage mingling and free up the traffic jam that tends to form around the buffet. Then use our tips to create a party-worthy bar.

Choose a signature decorative element. In spots throughout the room, we displayed sugared fruits and greenery (lemons, kumquats, cranberries, and rosemary). Lightly brush the items with beaten egg white, cover completely with sugar, shake off excess, and let dry. (Note: Sugared fruits and herbs are not edible.)

Skip the full bar. Offer your guests beer, wine, and a cocktail, such as our Cranberry-Mint Infusion. For a four-hour party for 12, plan on serving one round of cocktails, and have a case of beer and about 5 bottles of wine on hand (one bottle serves 4 to 5).

Garnish cocktails with seasonal fruits. Cranberries, currants, citrus, and pomegranate seeds add a festive note. Garnish nonalcoholic beverages too (try pomegranate juice concentrate mixed with club soda and garnished with a thin slice of lime). And don't forget the ice: 1/2 to 1 pound per person is a good estimate.

Make the bar self-serve. Welcome your guests by pouring their first drink, then invite them to help themselves. Protect furniture by placing wooden trays or brightly hued placemats underneath bottles, ice bucket, and glasses. Provide extra napkins and glasses, and check on the bar every 30 minutes to make sure things are in order.