Don't Run Out
Determining the amount of alcohol required for a party can be daunting, so follow these no-fail rules. On average, plan on one drink per guest every hour. Calculate the total number of drinks, then estimate what percent of that number will be wine, beer, cocktails and so on. The actual amounts needed will vary depending on what you're serving and your guests' preferences. To compensate for these variables, purchase at least 20 percent extra of everything.
There's no need to stock the bar with every type of alcohol under the sun. If you'd like to provide a fuller bar setup, try offering a selection of three spirits like vodka, tequila and rum. Don't forget to always provide a couple of nonalcoholic options: still and sparkling waters, sodas, etc.
Theme It Out
So how do you decide what to serve? Try to plan your bar offerings around the rest of your party theme. For an Asian-themed dinner, stock up on sakes from the Japanese market. At a fiesta, set up a drink display of margaritas with top-shelf tequila.
An important part of planning the bar is thinking about the type of glassware that will be used to serve each drink. While traditionalists recommend a different glass for red and white wine, you can keep things simple by using a multipurpose glass for both. You might also try searching for unique and vintage glassware at flea markets and garage sales to add to your collection; don't be afraid to mix and match stemware for an eclectic look. For large parties, we recommend renting glassware. It comes perfectly polished, and there's no need to clean before returning.
Don't Forget the Garnish
Garnishes can take a drink from ho-hum to unforgettable. Citrus slices, skewered pineapple, candied ginger and fresh herbs all make stylish and flavorful finishing touches. Rimming cocktail glasses is also a festive touch: Try using colored sugars, shaved chocolate or kosher salt. Wet the rim of the glass with a bit of lemon juice, then dip it into a plate covered in the coating and twirl. Voila!