THIS IS THE ONLY HOLIDAY BAR CART GUIDE YOU NEED THIS SEASON!
If you want to know how to stock the ultimate holiday bar cart, then keep reading and get ready to print out some great recipes too! I’ve listed everything that’s included in this comprehensive guide below.
I decided to pull together all my catering expertise to create a fabulous “party” bar cart for your holiday entertaining. When I finished organizing all the information I wanted to include, it turned into two posts. It was a real surprise to me that I had so much knowledge to impart!
WONDERING HOW TO STOCK THE ULTIMATE HOLIDAY BAR CART?
Here’s all the things I want you to know to stock the ultimate holiday bar cart for your own parties:
- How much alcohol should you buy for your type of party and number of guests?
- Party Drink Calculator Worksheet
- Wine Party & Cocktail Party Planning guidelines
- How to open a champagne bottle video
- The skinny on bar equipment and the proper glasses to use for each cocktail you offer your guests
- Over-the-top cocktail garnish selection your guests will adore (RECIPE CARDS INCLUDED)
- How to put together a “party emergency kit” for spills and accidents that are bound to happen
- How to made Cocktail Salts and Cocktail Sugars for your cocktail glass rims
- How to chill your wine and champagne FAST before your guests arrive
- Chart of every single possible item that can be part of the ultimate holiday bar cart
AND THAT’S NOT ALL FOLKS! (I’ve seen too many Ronco commercials!)
I’ve also included the recipes for these fabulous Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart items:
- Easy Lemony Marinated Olives Cocktail Garnish (Recipe Index – Specialty Items)
- Big Batch Bloody Mary Mix (Recipe Index – Beverages)
- Perfectly Pickled Asparagus Cocktail Garnish (Recipe Index – Specialty Items)
- 20 Infused Vodka Recipes
- Easy Refrigerator Pickled Carrots Cocktail Garnish (Recipe Index – Specialty Items)
- Lemon Drop Cocktail Mixer by the Pitcher
- Rambutini Cocktails
- Simple Syrup for Cocktails (Recipe Index – Beverages – Rambutini Cocktail)
- Tart Cherry Moscow Mule Cocktails (inside this post)
- Spicy Shrimp Garnish Skewers for Bloody Mary’s
- Rhubarb Daiquiri (inside this post)
LET’S GET STARTED – How to Determine the Quantity of Alcohol to Purchase
The first rule of holiday party planning is that it’s better too have too much than too little. The beauty of creating an ultimate holiday bar cart at home is that what you don’t use this time can be used for other parties and gatherings. With that in mind, it’s still a good idea to come up with a rough estimate of how much alcohol you need to have on hand.
Count on guests consuming two drinks in the first hour of your event and one drink during each following hour. Are you serving wine, beer and spirits?
The general rule of thumb is 50 percent of your guests will prefer wine, 30 percent will prefer beer and 20 percent will prefer mixed drinks.
Simply offering wine and beer? Plan on 60 percent of your guests drinking wine and 40 percent drinking beer.
DRINK CALCULATOR WORKSHEET PDF
I use Total Wine’s handy DRINK CALCULATOR WORKSHEET to determine my approximate alcohol quantity needs. Planning for extra guests and my friends who can party hearty requires adding a few more bottles to my final numbers!
** Just click on the link above to print out the Total Wine website’s useful worksheet.
HOW TO PLAN A WINE PARTY
Now you know just how to calculate the approximate amount of alcohol you are going to purchase. It’s time to give you the number of standard wine-glass servings in the different bottles to help you plan an accurate count.
750 ML = 5 servings
750 ML Sparkling Wine in flutes = 8 servings
1.5 L (magnum) = 10 servings
1 Case (12 750 ML bottles) = 60 servings
RED, WHITE OR SPARKLING?
Knowing what your guests like to drink is a great place to start, but you should also take these factors into consideration:
- What time of day is your function? For brunch or lunch, you’ll want to focus on lighter or sparkling wines.
- What foods will you serve? Spicy foods need a more robust wine, and a more delicate dishes require a subtle choice of wine.
- Does you party have a theme? Think Margaritas, Mint Juleps, Mimosas, or Warm Sake
- Seasonal or climate considerations? Hot weather requires more light-bodied, refreshing white wines or warming reds. Cooler weather is great for more full bodied reds and fortified wines.
- Make sure you have a variety of choices to allow something for everyone; consult your local wine shop owner to help you make your choices if you are unsure.
- Have a supply of soft drinks, flavored and plain waters on hand for non-alcohol drinkers.
AT WHAT TEMPERATURE SHOULD YOU SERVE YOUR WINE?
WHITES AND ROSÉS – 55-60 degrees F (chilled for several hours)
REDS – 60-65 degrees, (chilled approximately 15 minutes)
CHAMPAGNE/SPARKLING – 45 degrees (well chilled, kept chilled between pours)
HOW TO THROW A COCKTAIL PARTY
Putting together your own Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart will put you ahead of the game when throwing a cocktail party during the holiday season. Most of what you’ll need for your soiree will already be on your bar cart so the remainder of the prep will be a breeze!
Servings per container for the standard bottle sizes of spirits:
SPIRITS: (based on a standard bar “pour” of 1.5 ounces per cocktail)
750 ML ( a “fifth”) = 15 servings
Quart = 20 servings
1.5 L = 35 servings
Stocking the Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart is an undertaking that can be done over a period of time. If you are just starting to create and accumulate your bar cart components, here are the kinds of spirits you should acquire for a “basic” bar selection of cocktail recipes:
VODKA WHITE RUM BLENDED WHISKEY GIN
TEQUILA DRY VERMOUTH TRIPLE SEC
In Part Two of How to Stock the Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart, I’ll include an infographic that will detail all the items that can be part of the ultimate bar cart. It’s a comprehensive list, so you can include what you want and leave out what you don’t. Once again, it’s really a matter of what your personal entertaining style is and what kind of parties you throw.
HOW ABOUT SERVING A SIGNATURE COCKTAIL?
I love to create a few pitcher’s worth of a fabulous cocktail that I know has broad appeal among my invited guests. If it’s a theme party, I’ll go so far as to give the drink a name that fits and garnish it appropriately.
When deciding what cocktail to choose, think about ingredients that can be combined and chilled without losing integrity. Any fizzy ingredients should be chilled and added right before serving. I often serve Amaretto Sours or Lemon Drops which are always crowd-pleasers.
Punches went out of vogue in the 90’s, but they’re back baby! You’ll find all kinds of great recipes for festive occasions and with lots of great flavor combinations. For the holidays, I love to have a ruby red base like tart cherry or pomegranate that sparkles in my Grandmother’s punch bowl! It makes a great party “decor” component when made a centerpiece of a bar setup. I decorate the table with pine boughs, winterberry branches and pine cones to complement the red punch.
Here’s two great cocktails to serve this holiday season:
REFRESHING RHUBARB DAIQUIRI RECIPE
1/2 cup sugar / 1 1/2 cup finely diced rhubarb / 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice / pinch salt / 1 3/4 ounces white rum / 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice (you can substitute vodka if desired)
- Bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar completely. Reduce heat, add 1/2 cup rhubarb, and simmer until the rhubarb begins to soften, falls apart and start to thicken.
- Add remaining 1 cup rhubarb, bring back to a simmer for 1 minute, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Strain the rhubarb mixture through a fine sieve, pushing on solids with a spoon to extract all the liquid. Stir in lemon juice and salt. Cover and chill your rhubarb syrup until cold, at least 1 hour. (yields approx. 1 cup)
- To assemble rhubarb daiquiri cocktail: Combine rum, lime juice and 1 ounce rhubarb syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, cover tightly and shake until the outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds.
- Strain into a coupe or martini glass.
- RHUBARB SYRUP CAN BE MADE UP TO 1 WEEK AHEAD OF PARTY. KEEP CHILLED.
TART CHERRY MOSCOW MULE RECIPE
2 ounces vodka / 2 ounces tart cherry juice / 5 ounces ginger beer / 3 lime wedges / cherry garnish
- Add ice to a cocktail glass or the traditional copper mug. Add vodka, cherry juice and ginger beer. Stir to combine.
- Squeeze the juice of 3 lime wedges into the glass, drop them in and add a cherry with a stem for garnish. I like to use a sugared cherry to make it more festive!
LET’S WRAP THIS UP
Well, that’s it for Part One of How to Stock the Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart. Part Two will wrap up all the information you’ll need to create your own ultimate bar cart!
I’ll go into detail about my favorite “over-the-top” cocktail garnish recipes and show you how to make colored salts and sugars for your cocktail glass rims.
What cocktails do your family and friends like to drink when they’re together? Do you have a signature cocktail you’re “known” for? I’d love to hear about them either in the comments below this post, or over at The Fab Life Facebook Group. Let’s get this party started!
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