ultimate holiday bar cart guide

THE ULTIMATE HOLIDAY BAR CART – Your Comprehensive Hostess Helper

Want to know how to stock the ultimate holiday bar cart?  Keep reading and get ready to print out your own Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart Guide PDF and 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. ultimate holiday bar cartWhen 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!



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
  • Recipes for Cocktail Salts and Cocktail Sugars for your cocktail glass rims
  • How to chill your wine and champagne FAST before your guests arrive 
  • Downloadable 4 PG Guide every single possible item that can be part of the ultimate holiday bar cart


CLICK HERE TO READHow to Stock the Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart Series – Part Two


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:


bar cart garnishesLET’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 worksheetI 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.



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


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.


holiday champagne guide


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)



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 ultimate holiday bar cart spiritsof 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 included a 4 page downloadable PDF. It details 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.  

I’ll tell you how to get your copy a little later in this post.



bloody mary with bacon garnishI love to create a few pitchers 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.


Click here for a few fabulous cocktails to serve this holiday season: 

tart cherry moscow mule cocktailRefreshing Rhubarb Daiquiri Recipe   

Tart Cherry Moscow Mule Cocktail          

Amaretto Liqueur Recipe & Amaretto Eggnog Cocktail



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! 

CLICK HERE TO READ: How to Stock the Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart Series – Part Two

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!


ultimate holiday bar cart guide

Want your own ULTIMATE HOLIDAY BAR CART GUIDE, but you’re not on our list yet? 

Why not join in on the fun!

Fill out the form below and I’ll send you a copy as a thank you for joining the IFAFL Email Subscriber List.

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What are you waiting for?  You don’t want to miss out on anything fabulous, do you? 

There’s always something fabulous happening here at Ingredients For A Fabulous Life, don’t you want to stay in the loop?  

And while you’re at it, come join the gang in our Facebook group and get in on the gabfest at, The Fab Life!  That’s where we show off our triumphs and share our pursuit of “the good life” with each other all week long.  




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