7 Tips for Throwing an Epic At Home Bar Hop.
If you’re anything like me, you love throwing parties!
You are always such a good host trying to come up with new and interesting themes, better drinks, and better party food…
But have you thought about having a party themed around your more usual Friday night activity: bar hopping?
There is a new trend popping up in America of people throwing bar hopping parties where you get a group of friends and neighbors together for the complete bar experience, hosted exclusively at home (and maybe even your neighbor’s homes as well!)
Basically, you get the comfort of drinking at home (a big money saver and much safer when people don’t have to drive) but you can plan ahead to offer unique and interesting drinks. In the same way that you would plan a dinner party for you and your friends, you can all get creative with some drinks (and maybe add some healthy at-home “bar food” too).
Sound like a blast?
Here are 7 tips for planning the ultimate at home bar hopping party!
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1. Have a Home Bar Hop Party Plan:
Throwing a party is a lot of work even when you aren’t making fancy cocktails. So unless you are only planning on having 3 or 4 people over, I suggest outsourcing some of the drinks to your friends and neighbors who will be attending the party.
In order to make this a realistic “bar hop” experience, consider getting a handful of neighbors to go in with you on the party. Each location can have one type of drink and one snack, and you can plan to stay at each house for an allotted amount of time (preferably, however long it will take you to drink a single cocktail).
Also, when you send out the invitation, ask for volunteers to contribute to the drink and snack fixins’. You can even make your event more exciting by turning it into a competition based on each “bar.” The prize could be a cocktail shaker, a bottle of liquor, or a cocktail recipe book for the contributors of winning location.
2. Remember These Essential Bar Supplies:
There are bar tools every bartender uses on the daily. Make sure you have:
- Metal Cocktail shaker
- Jigger (measures the ingredients)
- Stir stick
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Citrus Juicer
- Good knife (for cutting fruit)
These are not expensive items and will last you for years. Check out amazon for a good set! As someone who has worked as a bartender, don’t buy the shakers with the strainer top. The top always manages to get stuck…
There are also some spices and other ingredients that are fun and useful to have on hand. I like to have a collection of aromatic bitters, extracts (vanilla, lavender, almond), and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, ginger). Buying fresh herbs like mint and basil are also fun additives for drinks. Only buy these when you need them so they get used at peak freshness.
And don’t forget about supplying some classy glassware. If you don’t own all that many nice glasses, there are some good options at the party supply store. The thrift store is good if you want to invest in buying real glasses, usually they are about $1 a piece.
3. Don’t Just Stick to the Classics
Mix it up with a few new and fun ingredients!
I make a mean old fashioned, but for a fun party, that can be rather boring in a crowd of people who like creative cocktails.
Classics can make for a good starting point as a base to build on. Instead of an old-fashioned the regular way, change up the bitters, maybe make a simple syrup infusion with some spices or fruit flavors, or add a secondary liquor.
A secondary liquor (like triple sec, Chambord, chartreuse) is a spirit that usually only gets used in small amounts to add another flavor note to the base liquor you are using (like tequila, vodka, whiskey). Then, the addition of bitters (even more concentrated flavor) and infused simple syrup creates a complex drink.
You can think of a cocktail like a song.
There are many notes of flavor in a drink just like there are melodies and harmonies in a song. You layer the different ingredients together to create a cohesive drink experience. You don’t want your cocktail to be too strong, too sweet, too sour or too bitter.
If you start with a classic drink recipe and experiment with adding new flavors, you will have a new and interesting cocktail to share with all your friends! It may take a couple tries, but the fun you have being creative and coming up with something to call your own will be worth it 🙂
Interested in making your cocktail health(ier)? I’ve got some super easy, healthy cocktails recipes that you can use:
Grab your copy of my free health(ier) cocktail recipe book and start making drinks that are half the calories, but all the fun! Download your free recipe book here:
4. Make Your Cocktail in Batches
When I worked in a craft cocktail bar, it would get difficult to keep up and move fast when you have a ticket with 6 different cocktails and each one of those cocktails has at least 4 ingredients. So the solution to this eventually (to cut down on the wait time for drinks) was to “batch” parts of each cocktail on the menu (minus the fresh juice) so only two bottles had to be poured to make a drink.
You probably already did this at parties before, you just called it something less fancily…a punch bowl.
I’m not suggesting you make your drinks in a bowl, but you can mix some of the ingredients ahead of time and keep it in a drink jar for the least amount of work during the party.
But, if you want to make them more fresh, save some empty wine bottles (I know you probably have some) or large mason jars to pour the batch into. When you make your drinks to order at the party, just pour the determined amount of batch in the shaker with your fresh squeezed juice, and bitters (unless you added the bitters to the batch).
This all comes down to personal preference. If your party is going to be centered around everyone making their drinks, batching is less important. But if you’re having 20 people over and you want to show off your bartending skills, you should consider these options to lessen the stress of entertaining.
Not sure how to batch it out? Here is an awesome guide.
5. Don’t Forget the Garnish!
Even though you are making drinks at home, the goal is to have that unique bar experience. Adding a garnish to your drink is an easy way to make your cocktail stand out.
Edible flowers, citrus wheels, herbs, or an interesting straw make for nice finishing touches. You can also get creative with ice cubes.
For more spirit-forward cocktails, large clear ice cubes can be a nice simple finish. What do I mean by clear? Some nice bars double-boil their water before making their whiskey ice cubes. While not necessary, there is something mesmerizing about a completely see-through piece of ice. Here are some instructions.
Check out these neat ideas to try out for your party!
6. Set a Budget
Liquor can get expensive fast.
When you go out for craft cocktails you usually expect to pay at least $12 a cocktail, and for good reason. Many of secondary liquors used in craft cocktails are very expensive for just one small bottle, and the cost for you to buy that bottle is even more!
If you make just one cocktail at home you will most likely need to buy a 750 mL bottle of your base liquor (even the cheap but okay stuff will cost you at least $20), a secondary liquor (can cost anywhere between $25 for triple sec up to $58 for chartreuse), bitters ($12), and fresh fruit (the only cheap thing, which isn’t always even cheap if you spring for organic berries).
All those supplies can add up fast, especially if you are having a larger group over. Before embarking on planning the party and cocktail recipe, set a budget for the drink as well as food (I will get there in a minute). Usually for a party of 10, considering that everyone is bringing something to share to drink and eat, I would set your personal budget somewhere between $50-100. Consider shopping at Costco or Walmart where you can get better deals on alcohol (and food).
Usually for a party of 10, considering that everyone is bringing something to share to drink and eat, I would set your personal budget somewhere between $50-100. Consider shopping at Costco or Walmart where you can get better deals on alcohol (and food).
7. Provide Food for When People Get the Munchies
Bars (at least in the state of California) are required to serve some kind of food to have a liquor license. Your party guests are going to need something to absorb all that alcohol, or you are gonna have quite the shit-show mess on your hands…
When talking to your neighbors about what drink they are making, consider also having them provide something to eat that pairs well with their drink. Another option is to ask those who are not bringing drink supplies to bring food. This is a group effort!
Here are some links to cocktail party food ideas:
I highly suggest making a sign-up list for food so not everyone shows up with chips and dip or cookies. And be sure to check this out if your looking for health(ier) snack options to recommend to your bar hopping participants.
If you are real nerdy like me, you can make a google sheets page and share it with your attendees. People tend to be kinda lazy sometimes when they come to a potluck.
Are You Ready for Your Home Bar Hopping Party?
I love any excuse to drink at home. But I don’t want to drink at home alone while everyone else is at the bars…
Home bar hopping gives you the best of both worlds: bar quality cocktails and the comforts of being at home (or at a friend’s). You save yourself the struggles of a crowded bar and avoid the surge pricing of Uber.
This is your chance to get creative and plan something to really look forward to when you are feeling bogged down by work or just need a reason to get your friends together. You can even add a fun theme so you have an excuse to get dressed up! Everyone loves a good costume party, even when it’s not Halloween.
Are you ready to plan an at home bar hop in your community?
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