At the Nimble Bar Co., we’ve perfected the art of throwing the unforgettable party. We’ve got some key steps and recommendations you can follow to do the same. Download our free PDF guide for your own files, or read on here!
STEP 1: DEFINE YOUR VISION
Have you ever been to a wedding where the bartenders acted like robots? How about a staff party where you had to make your own drinks from a limited selection? Or what about the all-too-common house party where there’s nothing but one kind of beer?
While you may say to yourself, “I’m happy so long as there’s booze,” the fact of the matter is, if your party has any of the above problems, you are missing a HUGE opportunity.
Imagine the IMPACT you’d have if your guests said things like this the next day:
- “Best party I’ve been to. EVER.”
- “Man, thank you so much for that. That was a whole new experience.”
- “That was amazing. Are you a professional party-thrower, or something?”
- “You sure know how to sweat the details — awesome party!”
Imagine a party where every little detail is elevated to the level of fine art, but you just had to follow a few simple steps.
Have you ever been to a cocktail bar that was considered one of the best in the world? If so, you’ll know that those kinds of establishments create memories you don’t quickly forget. And you usually want to go back.
Well that’s our mission with this guide: to show you how to emulate the vibe of some of the best cocktail bars in the world. That’s right, your event can leave guests with a similar experience, and you don’t have to make it complicated.
But why should you listen to us, the Nimble Bar Co.? We’re a group world class cocktail experts and bartenders who have thrown hundreds of parties. We’ve thrown parties ranging from small household dinner parties, to parties with over 300 people in attendance. We’ve hosted parties that flopped and parties that have garnered raving fans. Through it all, we’ve honed our expertise and learned how to through unforgettable, amazing parties each and every time.
We now specialize in one very specific party because we’ve noticed it gets the best results, bar-none (see what I did there?).
That party is the cocktail party.
Maybe you’re asking yourself, “Why does my party have to be ‘amazing’? Why can’t it just be good enough?”
Well, let’s talk a bit about the game of life AND business:
Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP, the bible of modern accounting) defines an asset called ‘goodwill.’ Goodwill is made up of the following components:
- A company’s brand
- Strong customer base
- Solid customer relations
- Employee relations
Even if you’re an individual, you still have an asset called goodwill. For an INDIVIDUAL, the equivalent of goodwill would be:
- Your reputation
- The degree to which people trust you as a resource
- The quality of your relationships
- Having a staff of your own so you can perform optimally
Although goodwill is intangible, it is nonetheless an asset — possibly the most powerful asset you have. Think about it, the more goodwill you have, the easier it is for you to get the things you need and want. Since we’ve established that goodwill is EXTREMELY important, let’s talk about how you can rapidly build it.
It’s really simple: Throw an amazing party. Better yet, throw amazing parties on a regular basis.
YOU CAN DO THIS.
If you’ve read The Great Gatsby, you’ll know what was so ‘great’ about Gatsby. You don’t need to throw parties nearly as illustrious as he did, you just need to throw parties that are well organized. A well organized party shows people you care.
STEP 2: WHAT YOU’LL NEED
All of the tools you’ll need
We’ve provided links to our favourite brands:
- Boston shaker x 2
- Winco Service Mats, 18-Inch X 12-Inch, Black
- Japanese Style Seamless Mixing Glass (750ML)
- Swissmar Hammered Stainless Steel Cocktail Spoon
- Stainless Steel Pour Spouts 7 Thread Bottle Pourers with Tapered Spout,12 Pack
- Prodyne Classic Martini Picks (Set of 6), Metallic
- Channel Knife
- Kuhn Rikon “Swiss” Peeler
- Unscented Tealight Candles
- Multi Level Jigger
- Ice Scoop
- Clean ice for shaking and stirring —> take this to another level and call a cocktail bar in your city and ask if you can buy a few bags of their Hoshizaki or Kold-Draft ice. Also, many major cities have companies that specialize in ice and will deliver it to you.
- Crystal-clear ice spheres for serving
- Dump bucket (usually a large trash can works well)
- If you have only one sink, you will need a vessel to hold your mixing ice. This could be anything from a Coleman cooler to a large Tupperware tote. Ideally use something that’s metal or insulated.
- 1 red wine
- 1 white wine
- 3 different kinds of beer (easy lager / pilsner, IPA, and something totally different)
A note on citrus…
While we recommend juicing your citrus fresh for each drink, sometimes it isn’t practical when we’re trying to serve a lot of guests. We’ve had great results using Santa Cruz’s organic pure lemon juice and Lakewood’s organic pure lime juice
Cocktails that are guaranteed crowd-pleasers
We recommend you make up your menu of 3 x Easy, 2 x Medium, and 1 x Nerd-rated cocktails.
Easy = Easy to make and easy to drink.
Medium = Medium difficulty level of mixing, and takes a bit more of a refined palate.
Nerd = Either difficult to make or has flavour characteristics that appeal to a very developed palate.
The links provided will take you to the BEST instructional videos we’ve found on the Internet.
|Dark & Stormy||Easy|
|Corpse Reviver #2||Medium|
|Mezcal Old Fashioned||Nerd|
STEP 3: PRO TIPS
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
If you’re going to outsource the drink mixing, make sure you get a seasoned pro. Get someone who’ll dazzle you and your guests with their skills, service, and attitude.
You probably already have a favorite bartender in your town. Ask them if they’re up for working a private party. Not only will they appreciate the offer for additional income, but they’ll also be flattered. And bartenders love to get out from behind their everyday bar to bring themselves and their craft to new networks.
If you don’t yet have a favourite bartender, go around town and create a shortlist of your top three. Then simply ask for their contact information across the bar.
CHANGE UP THE LIGHTING
Lighting is crucial, and many party planners fail to consider it. Over the course of your event, change the lighting AT LEAST once. Start with some lights on and some candles, and then turn off the lights and light more candles. This will change people’s mood and boost the energy in the room. We’ve elaborated on this in Step 5 below.
Rather than using your own glassware, we recommend you go to a local restaurant supply store and rent. The uniformity will take your event to the next level. A big bonus: many of these businesses will wash the glasses for you. That makes cleanup much easier.
PREPARE YOUR GARNISH STATION IN ADVANCE
If you’re the master mixer, prepare your garnishes in advance. Your party will be busy, and you can save yourself a headache if you streamline your service with premade garnishes.
The garnishes you prepare will depend on the cocktails you choose to have on your menu. It makes sense to always have a bowl of lime wedges for highballs. Other than that, make sure you have a bowl for each garnish your menu requires.
For instance, if the Old Fashioned is on your menu, make sure you have a bowl of orange zest swathes ready to go. If you have the Aviation, make sure you have a bowl of fresh picked or maraschino cherries. Or better yet, make your own.
STEP 4: THINGS TO AVOID/COMMON MISTAKES
You don’t need to have ice from a Kold Draft or Hoshizaki machine, but you do need to have ice that is CLEAN and DRY. Make sure that you’re not using ice that’s been sitting in your freezer for months. Ice often picks up flavours of nearby objects, so be careful.
If you’re using ice that’s even slightly diluted, you and your guests will be drinking a lot of watery drinks. No bueno.
If you live in a major city, you can usually find businesses that just sell ice. That means you can get anything from an ice block that you could pick at to king cubes or crushed ice.
Our recommended forms of ice:
1 x 1 cubes —> Use these for basic mixing. This is the ice you’d be able to get straight from an establishment with a Hoshizaki or Kold Draft machine
King cubes —> Use these for drinks like the Old Fashioned. The larger cubes means less surface area and so the ice melts slower — stiff drinks are to be sipped slowly, and slow-melting ice will keep them cold but strong.
Crushed ice —> Have gas-station ice on hand with a lewis bag and mallet. You’ll dazzle your guests when you go to crush ice for that Mint Julep.
You want to dazzle your guests with your attention to detail. This means you’re going to have to go beyond the 2 litre bottles of Coke and Diet Coke as your mixers. We recommend you use a Sodastream for your soda, and boutique brands for other mixers such as Fentiman’s and Fever-Tree’s Tonic Water and Fentimans Ginger Beer.
Fever Tree puts it very well on their website: “If 3/4 of your drink is going to be a mixer, make sure it’s the best.”
CRAPPY, RANDOM MUSIC
Music is a crucially important part of your event, yet it’s often treated as an afterthought. Make sure you’re matching the tempo of the music to the stage of the night. For example, don’t play disco as people are just arriving. That leads us to Step 5.
STEP 5: GUIDE THE ENERGY, SET THE VIBE
Great bars have an inherent musicality. Bartenders communicating with each other, the clinking of bottles, pouring liquid, and shaking cocktails. These are all part of the vibe, and the music we choose works in tandem with these ‘instruments’. It’s one of the most beautiful aspects of the bar and at our parties we like to emulate this as much as possible.
Generally speaking, there are 3 stages to every party and every night. You can guide your party through these stages with the right lighting and music choices. Here’s how you do it.
Stage 1: The Quiet Cocktail Bar
Have you ever been to a great cocktail bar that was totally empty, but you actually loved that it was empty? Chances are it’s due to a mix of great lighting and great music choice. For the first stage, we recommend that you try and emulate this ‘classy cocktail bar’ feel.
Here are some Spotify playlists that work perfectly for this time of night:
Stage 2: The Ramp-Up
This is where there are a few people in the room and they’re all starting to get comfortable. They’ve had a drink or two, and conversation is flowing pretty well. We want to ramp-up their state by changing the music a bit and turning down the lights.
On Spotify, these are the playlists that work well for this stage:
Stage 3: The Overwhelm & Escalate
Once again, we’re going to dim the lights. Now your venue should be lit by nothing but candles. We want to now be playing music that is very high energy. You will feel the best moment to make this transition — the room will be fairly full and people’s energy will naturally be escalating. HOWEVER, if this is an intimate party, you may want to hang out around Stage 2. Simply change the lighting to Stage 3 but keep the music the same.
On Spotify, here are the playlists that work best for Stage 3:
Always be mindful of the music’s volume. Guests should always hear the music, but it shouldn’t be so loud that guests have to strain their voices to have a conversation.
Of course, you could always consider hiring a DJ to take care of the music for you. That’s a power-move, for sure.
You’re probably thinking, “Wow. Do I have to do all that to throw an amazing party?” Don’t worry; it’s simpler than you think. It also gets easier with practice. If our recommendations feel overwhelming, try starting with just a few and add more the next time. Before you know it, you’ll be a master.
Hosting well and mixing well can benefit your life in huge ways. It shows the people around you that you care. It makes your events sought-after and more exclusive. Not to mention, the added networking benefits will make you more money.
If you need help, or if you want to outsource your party to some experts, we’d love to help. Don’t forget to download our free PDF guide for your reference or Get in touch with us here. We’ll organize your awesome party and teach you how to do it in the future.