Shake Things Up with an Outdoor Bar

One of the best — and economical — ways to enjoy summer is to own your backyard. And by own, we mean make it the destination for the best place to relax, celebrate and party. Dress it up with a few lawn and Adirondack chairs; a fire pit or chiminea, strategically placed rope lighting and a lawn gnome dressed in your favorite team’s colors. Once the décor is in place, invite friends and family over for a day free of time clocks and deadlines and full of good grub, good times and great drinks.

Imbibe responsibly and easily by creating a friendly outdoor bar setting with these tips:

If entertaining on the patio or around the pool, use durable, insulated drinkware to keep drinks cold and prevent breakage. They also make great shakers.

Frozen grapes make great edible ice cubes for wine and fruity drinks. Frozen tonic water can double as a mixer and an ice cube.

Stock your outdoor bar with the basics: vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila, triple sec, a red and a white wine, sweet and dry vermouth and a cooler of assorted beers on ice. (We suggest cans and plastic bottles to prevent breakage.)

Keep your mixers simple too. Cola, diet cola, lemon-lime soda, assorted fruit juices (lemonade is a must for summer!), tonic, ginger ale, bloody Mary mix, simple sugar and sweet and sour.

Garnishes are always appreciated. Provide salt, sugar, olives, celery, pickles, lemon, lime and orange wedges (or slices) and cherries. If you want people to rave about your home-made Bloody Mary, grill some spicy-rubbed shrimp, or fry some thick cut bacon slices and drop one in!

Even with these basic ingredients, your guests will be able to enjoy just about any drink they can think of (unless your group of friends is comprised of mixologists).

For a self-serve bar, place the above ingredients, drinkware, straws, stirrers and a bar towel or two on a table close enough to the action – but not in the middle of it – and you’ll be able to spend more time enjoying your guests than serving them. Place a cooler of assorted beer and another full of ice next to the table and the libations will flow easily.

If you need a bottle opener/wine key, be sure to secure it to the bar table with a string and it won’t go misplaced.

A well-placed stone or paperweight keeps napkins from blowing away in a summer breeze.

Have lots of water on hand as the combination of sun and alcohol tends to dehydrate people quicker.

And the last, but most important tip for a successful outdoor bar: if needed, assign designated drivers or call your friends a cab. They’ll thank you in the morning.


PJ Butland