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A Workable Outdoor Cocktail Set-up


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I'm tending bar for an end-of-the-year party for my staff in a few weeks at another person's house, and I'm trying to figure out how to set it up. Turns out that they're gung-ho about trying out some classic cocktails, and I don't want to pass up the opportunity. That having been said, I also don't want to do a crappy job.

Here's the equipment that I imagine I'll be bringing:

  • two bar carts
    both shakers
    spoon and strainer
    muddler
    juicer
    bar knife
    small cutting board
    a cooler chest
    measuring glasses
    bar cloths

A few questions, s'il vous plait:

What's missing?

How best should I think about ice? I'm wary of dumping a bunch into the cooler and letting it all warm up. I was thinking that I might try to crush a lot ahead of time using my crusher, put it in my very cold home freezer for a bit, and then keep it in the host's freezer, only bringing out small amounts as needed. Any other ideas?

Biggest issue: glasses. There will likely be a few dozen drinkers there, and I don't have enough cocktail glasses for that many people. Seeing that I store mine in my freezer and cannot abide serving cocktails in warm plastic, I'm at a loss. Am I looking at rentals here, or are there other options?

Thanks in advance.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Put a few chunks of dry ice in the bottom of the freezer. Unless you're there mixing drinks for 5 hours, you'll be fine.

As for the glassware, considering that it's warm weather, you could save yourself a lot of trouble by doing exclusively long drinks. Somehow, tooling around someone's backyard with something like a Gin Gin Mule seems more appropriate than holding a cocktail glass with a shaken "up drink" in it.

How many people are you talking about here?

I'd also suggest that it makes sense to settle on one or two classic cocktails you can batch, rather than trying to show up there prepared to play bartender and make a zillion different drinks a la minute to order.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Biggest issue: glasses. There will likely be a few dozen drinkers there, and I don't have enough cocktail glasses for that many people. Seeing that I store mine in my freezer and cannot abide serving cocktails in warm plastic, I'm at a loss. Am I looking at rentals here, or are there other options?

Pier 1 has lots of inexpensive barware. I see on their website that they have a straightforward "classic" martini glass for $2. You could get three dozen for $72, which isn't all that much (although it would be plus shipping or plus sales tax). I doubt you could rent for much less, and this way you have a large supply of cheap cocktail glasses when you're done. (Okay, that might not be a good thing.)
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I just found out that I could rent 6 oz martini glasses for $0.50 each. If I rented twenty for ten bucks and added them to my own glasses, I'd probably have plenty.

Sam, thanks for the dry ice tip. And while rocks drinks might seem more appropriate to you, the whole reason why I'm doing this is because my staff wants to try a variety of classic cocktails -- an opportunity I'm not going to miss -- hence the questions!

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Make sure you have some sort of home for your squeeze bottles of fresh juices, simple syrup(s), flavored simple (if you're feeling adventurous) as well as somewhere for your fruit garnishes to live where they aren't wilting in the hot sun.

Maybe a trough of ice that could be replenished as needed could house all of the above?

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 2 weeks later...
I just found out that I could rent 6 oz martini glasses for $0.50 each. If I rented twenty for ten bucks and added them to my own glasses, I'd probably have plenty.

Sam, thanks for the dry ice tip. And while rocks drinks might seem more appropriate to you, the whole reason why I'm doing this is because my staff wants to try a variety of classic cocktails -- an opportunity I'm not going to miss -- hence the questions!

I'd really consider buying glassware. Ikea does glasses at $10 for a six-pack. Buy 40 or so, stick' em in storage, and you'll never be short for a party again.

Also: Dry ice is not only a great idea, but potentially mixologically interesting for fizzy cocktails. Might want to think about turning the necessity for cooling capacity into an opportunity for invention!

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks to a series of excellent yard sale scores in the last month, my glass problem is fixed. I'm focusing on gin (Pegu Club & Aviation) and rum (Beachcomber and Hemingway Daiquiri) drinks, with a couple of surprises in the hole if someone's really eager.

I appreciate all the tips.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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