Sometimes we just need de de-stress, and the backyard is a great place to do it. It’s also a great place to entertain. Sometimes, we might have an urge to make adult beverages part of those moments. And when you want it to be convenient, interesting, and not take you away from your guests, an outdoor bar is a wonderful addition to the patio.
A few of your favorite bottles will be the centerpiece of your bar, but when you want to do it right, a lot of thought and planning can go into. You can end up with a highly-functional center that will make your home more popular than ever. Let’s have a look at some of the aspects to consider when designing and setting up your own outdoor bar.
What Kind of Outdoor Bar Do You Want
Of course, you first have to know what it is you want in a bar. There are many questions to ask yourself to help decide what to include and how big to make the bar.
One of the most important factors is to think about how much space you need. That could include storage, workspace, and a serving area.
What’s your overall plan for your patio area? Is it primarily for personal and family use, or do you throw a lot of parties or cookouts for adults? The more people you plan on serving, the more you’ll need to have in your bar. While the workspace might remain the same, you’ll need to store more supplies. If you want people to be able to sit down at the bar, that’ll also mean a bigger server area. You could also opt just to serve from the bar and let guests stand in the open space or even create a separate area to sit and relax.
Are you making the bar part of an outdoor kitchen? Of course, there will be a lot of overlap in terms of supplies and space needed. But you’ll also have to make sure you have enough serving space for drinks that separate from where you’re preparing food. You’ll also want to be sure not to have the bar service area far enough away from your barbecue grill or stove.
You also have to decide if you want a permanent bar or a temporary one that you set up for specific events. Of course, the more you like to entertain and the larger the group you have over, the more reasonable it is to have something permanent. On the other hand, if you just expect a few people once in a while, you may only need a table or even a cart where you keep basic supplies and roll it out as needed.
Do you want to have a wet bar? You’ll have to consider how to install a sink and be sure that the water line is protected from freezing if you live in a colder zone. You’ll also have to think about design and how it blends into the overall look of your outdoor area.
Of course, if your outdoor bar is a permanent fixture, you’ll need to have storage space. That may take the form of closets or cabinets or other fixtures where you can store drinkware and accessories along with your beverages. You may want to make sure you can secure the storage area, particularly if you’re storing alcoholic beverages. They may not only be at risk of theft but may be an “attractive nuisance” and create liability issues if they fall into the wrong hands.
The Main Elements for Your Outdoor Bar
There are a lot of elements that go into your bar – or at least possibly can go into your bar, depending on your goals. Let’s look at some of the key pieces.
As we mentioned above, you may want to have a wet bar. That requires running water.
This can serve a couple purposes. First, you’ll want access to water if you plan to mix drinks. This way, you’ll have a steady supply.
A sink also makes it convenient when you need to clean up any spills or when it’s time to wipe everything down after the party. In the same vein, you won’t have to lug your glasses, plates, and flatware inside just for cleaning. That’s a huge help if your plan is to store them in the outdoor bar or kitchen.
You’ll also want to be sure to have a space to store ice. If you’ve really gone big with your outdoor kitchen, you might have a freezer with an ice maker or even an independent ice maker. But even that may not be enough to keep up with demand at a larger gathering.
A cooler chest comes in handy. You could also have an insulated drawer added that will keep beverages or food cold when ice is stored in it. A smaller ice bucket works well in your work area so you have it handy and you can refill it as needed.
A mini-fridge works great for an outdoor kitchen, or let your bottles and cans share space in a full-sized outdoor unit.
You’ll have a few items to store here, so consider it seriously. It is a bit of a luxury but can pay off in the long run. If beer is on the menu, it’s great to store cans and bottles. But you may also have fruits like lemons that you want chilled.
While you can survive without a fridge out back, it definitely will make things more convenient!
Of course, your own tastes might call for a cooling device with a more specific purpose. If you and your regular guests prefer the taste of barley and hops, you might prefer a kegerator.
Many people do prefer their beer from a keg, and almost everyone prefers it nice and cold. So this can make an excellent addition!
Beer Dispenser (Tap)
Following up on that last point, you might even want a beer tap similar to what you’d find in a real bar. This might be more for appearance than function; after all, any keg is going to need to be tapped. However, added a fancy tap on top of the counter shows a lot of style!
Built-in bottle opener
If you have bottles rather than a keg, you might want to mount a bottle opener on a post or shelf. Of course, you could have a handheld one as well. But there’s another “coolness” factor with your guests being able to just pop off the cap against the wall.
Shelving And Cabinets
We’ve already mentioned storage, but we thought it’d be good to include here as well. Shelving and cabinets are important for being able to keep supplies out of the way. But shelves and open-fronted or glass-fronted cabinets are also great for showing off your bottles and glassware.
Counter space is another essential for an outdoor bar. You’ll need to be sure you have enough space for all your accessories and to allow you to pour and mix. You might go for a two-level type of bar, similar to what you’ll find in many commercial bars. That way you can work behind the bar while your friends stand or sit in front.
A blender is handy especially for mixing cocktails. It can also help crush ice when needed.
There are a lot of different sizes of blender needed, but even if you have larger groups over, it’s unlikely you’ll need a commercial-grade one. Still, it can help make things much easier than mixing by hand.
It will also come in handy for other types of drinks, like alcoholic or non-alcoholic mixes with ice cream. Delicious!
Seating (talk about both bar stools, restaurant-type seating at a full-height table, and living-room type seating on lower chairs with a coffee-table style. Just as options with a couple sentences for each
Bar stools or chairs are also great additions to your outdoor bar area. There are tons of styles and options available, and you can create the vibe you want.
Be sure to choose materials that are designed for the outdoors and that won’t absorb so much heat that your guests feel uncomfortable.
Your Outdoor Bar Accessories
You’ll want to round out your outdoor bar with a good selection of accessories to make everything run smoothly. Here are a few of the most basic accessories to invest in.
Unless everyone is expected to drink out of a can or bottle, you’ll want to be sure that you have enough glasses to provide for your guests.
Glass might not be the best option for outdoors. If it drops on your patio, it’s more likely to break than on an indoor tile floor or rug. And if pieces shatter into your grass, you may never find them all, leaving a danger for when anyone wants to feel the grass between their toes.
There are many quality reusable plastic glasses and cups. And to help protect the environment, it’s best to opt for reusable ones whenever possible.
You’ll want to have a selection of drinkware that matches the types of drinks you’ll be serving. That could include cocktail glasses, Tom Collins glasses, and beer mugs.
Pitchers and Containers for Mixing and Serving
You’ll also want to be sure you have containers that are suitable for mixing drinks as well as for serving them. Some of your mixing might take place in a blender, but you might also find yourself in need of other containers.
Pitchers also make it hand to serve beer in bulk. No, we don’t mean to an individual, although we have a few people in mind who like it that way! But a handful of pitchers to bring to different tables at a gathering really come in hand. Or mix up a batch of drinks and serve them from the pitcher to save time.
To do that mixing and add garnishes and ice, you’ll need to have tongs, spoons, and other utensils handy. Even knives come in handy when you’ll be slicing lemons and other garnish items.
Stainless steel is probably your best choice if you’ll be leaving them outside, though; otherwise, you might deal with rust.
Napkins, Toothpicks and Other Items
Be sure to keep a pack of napkins handy to offer with drinks. Of course, they’re also handy for cleaning up small spills. We do recommend having a bar towel or two handy, though!
A box or two of toothpicks is great, too, if you’re adding lemon slices or olives to drinks and want the imbiber to be able to easily remove them without struggling around the ice.
A whole host of other items can come in handy, but it really depends on how elaborate you want to be and what type of drinks you’ll be serving.
If you don’t want or need a permanent fixture, a cart makes an excellent choice. A tea cart or the type they use for room service in hotels works perfectly. Stock it with all the bottles, garnishes, drinkware and accessories you need. Then just roll it out when the party starts!
Decorating Your Outdoor Bar
Of course, you’ll want to add some more character to your bar with some lighting and decorations.
There are lots of options for how to light up the area to create a great atmosphere as well as make it easy to work. The options are similar to what you would have in a full outdoor kitchen. You can find suggestions for outdoor kitchen lighting here.
You can also use paint, wall hangings, and more to create the atmosphere you want. Whether it’s freestyle and fun-loving or reserved and formal, you’ll find elements that will fit in great in the yard. It’s not our taste but you could even go for a talking Billy Bass!
The only limits here are how far you want to go and what kind of environment you want to create.
An outdoor bar is a great resource for increasing your enjoyment of your patio and backyard. You can go as simple or extravagant as you like. It’ll be a great place for gathering with family and friends or enjoying a cold one, a glass of one, or a summery cocktail by yourself. It’s a great way to maximize the potential of your outdoor spaces!