{Food & Entertaining}

Summer Sparkle: The Drink Station!

Happy June, Socialites!

It’s time for outdoor entertaining, barbecues, elegant picnics, and all around summertime fab! And what’s a key facet of any gathering? The cocktails, of course! But alcohol can be pricey when serving a crowd. Want to take your event to the next level without spending a fortune?

::trumpet blare::

Socialites, I give you, The Drink Station!

It’s a must for all my events! Select two to three signature punches or pre-made cocktails and set up a self-serve station. Not only does it keep the booze budget down, but it leaves my time free to socialize, rather than standing by the bar with a martini shaker in hand, as I try to keep up with thirsty revelers.

Here’s how to set up an amazing drink station, laden with refreshing cocktails that are sure to impress your guests while freeing up your time and budget!

Assemble the essentials:

1. You’ll need a table suitable to the space that you can cover with a tablecloth and trust to hold two to three bowls, pitchers, or servers full of liquid. No cheapie folding tables on this one! The last thing a busy socialite needs is a crashing drink station. Oy!

drink server2. Serveware: I love this glass drink server I found on clearance, off season, for all of $8. I use it year round for everything from fresh lemonade to Christmas punch! Hunt one down – you won’t regret it. Can’t score one? Pop into a home store, head to the chef’s section and find the biggest glass mixing bowl you can – use it as a basic punch bowl. Pick up a long handled soup ladle, et voilà!  I’m also fond of colorful glass pitchers, often found at dollar stores and discount chains for super cheap! Get a few for an eclectic display!

3. Label your servers, pitchers, and punches. Give them event-related names: Pickled Picnic Punch, Saucy BBQ Sparkler, 4th of July Firecracker, etc… Add a couple loose flowers, candles, or other theme-related accents to the table. Make it fun!


4. Glassware: Set out a tray of pre-garnished glasses your guests will usegarnished glasses to enjoy these libations. Tip: choose easy garnishes that will keep in your setting: sweet fruits may attract flies outside or shrivel and brown in indoor heat. I’m fond of gummy candies cut and hung on each glass, easy herbal garnishes like rosemary when they compliment, and muddled mint in the bottom of glasses.

5. Select varied recipes for your drinks. I like to serve one rum based cocktail, one vodka based cocktail, and one sparkling champagne based cocktail. Not everyone drinks everything, so plan according to your guestlist.

6. Choose your recipes wisely. Especially in summer, select refreshing and simple cocktails that you can make in batches without too much scaling headache. How many 2 oz shots of vodka are there in a pitcher? I haven’t a clue, darling, but do you really want to stand there with a jigger and find out? NO! A 750ml bottle of spirits starts my punch every time. Adjust and taste as you go.

7. Make everything in advance and put it in the refrigerator to get cold. You’ll see many recipes online that call for a block of ice in your server or punch bowl. NO NO NO! Know what ice becomes? Water. Who wants a watered down cocktail? Find space on the table for a covered ice bucket and tongs. If your guests want ice, they’ll add it.  If they want water, they’re at the wrong party they’ll find that elsewhere…

It’s that simple! Your guests will arrive to find a swanky, self-service drink station and you’ll have more time to enjoy yourself, having saved a few dollars in the process. Everyone wins!

Got some serve-a-crowd-cocktail ideas of your own? Leave a comment and share! I’m all ears for a fellow Budget Socialite. 😉

See you next month!


Contributor | Eva Said It
Eva is a mother, writer, entertaining doyenne, and snark expert based in New York City. Money can’t buy happiness, but it buys her lots of wine and stinky cheese…which is close enough. Catch more of her stiletto clad sarcasm at www.evasaidit.com.


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  1. Jesse

    What a great idea. I love this.

  2. Debra Yearwood

    I was at a party a few weeks ago where the hostess had done this. It was awesome. She offered red or white sangria and had put out fruit that people could add to their drinks. It made the whole thing feel both fun and custom.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted..The Power and Pain of PollingMy Profile

  3. Mary Slagel@Shape Daily

    This is a great idea! I love throwing parties and outside bbq’s but providing the alcohol is a sure fire way to make the cost go up no matter how you try to budget. Asking everyone to bring their own booze is often complicated and depending on the person, awkward. The only suggestion I would add is to make sure you clearly label the drink station as alcoholic so any one under the age of 21 or any one who can’t drink doesn’t get confused.
    Mary Slagel@Shape Daily recently posted..6 Reasons You Aren’t Reaching Your Fitness GoalsMy Profile

  4. Grace

    Great ideas, thanks

  5. Jeri

    I totally get that about not putting ice in drinks. One of the worst things about restaurants is ordering tea, and then only to see the server come to fill your glass with a pitcher that is more ice than tea. Ice on the side is always a good idea.
    Jeri recently posted..Doctor Zhivago: To Love a Good Book (Guest Post)My Profile

  6. Susan Cooper

    I have a girl night on my patio on occasion. I love the tips and ideas you offered. I usually offer, wine, beer and other soft drinks but this sounds interesting and fun. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Melon Mint Wine-sicles: RecipeMy Profile

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