It's Fare

How to Throw a DIY Cocktail Party


Harold’s in the Heights’ Julia kicking cocktail butt.

I’ve always been so impressed with a bartender’s ability to grab a bunch of things and poof: A delicious and beautiful cocktail.

Circa Real Estate recently hosted a couple bloggers at one of their gorgeous Garden Oaks listings for a DIY cocktail demo with the beverage director at Harold’s in the Heights — which I mean… top 5 cocktail bar right there, as we learned at our 2nd Birthday Party with our own custom cocktail!

Now that I’ve mastered bartending (HA! JK.) Here’s how you throw your own DIY cocktail party to train future bartenders in your own home.

Step 1. Stock up.


I’m talking, FULLY STOCKED. I think the coolest part of our cocktail party was that we had literally everything we could possibly want, from peach bitters to lavender liquor. I mean, everything.

Obviously that’s insane. For simplicity purposes, here’s what boxes you need to check.

  • A mix of alcohols. Vodka is pretty standard, and I’d mix in a dark liquor too, probably whiskey. Spiced rum and tequila are solid additions too. If you’re going to skimp on having the full bar, skip gin and coconut rum (since those are less popular of drinks, in my opinion). I don’t think you need specialty liquors, like Aperol, but it IS my favorite…
  • Other booze. Ginger beer, prosecco and some other non-liquors might be fun bonuses.
  • A mix of mixers. Your standards should be: Soda, juice (OJ, cranberry and lemonade), Sprite, Coke, ginger ale, etc.
  • Fruit and garnishes. Berries, oranges, lemons, limes and olives — plus mint and cucumber are all standard drink ingredients.
  • Other things to offer. Simple syrup is basically a must. Tabasco, bitters, olive juice are all things to get if you want to go the extra mile.

And…. more ice than you think you need.

Step 2. Set up.


I didn’t realize how many things were needed to bartend! You gotta have your stir, your shaker, cutting board and knife for cutting fruit and garnishes, plus you need actual glasses for people to put their prepared cocktail. If you don’t have glasses and don’t care to invest, which is totally fair, I recommend upgrading from red solo cups to maybe those nice clear hard plastic cups. (These photograph much better, and you gotta do it for the insta.)

Step 3. Get educated.

If you’re gonna walk the walk of bartending, talk the talk too. Google some cocktail recipes to get an idea of what goes good together. This website has pretty much EVERYTHING you need to know, and below are some things I learned.

  • You can shake vodka and whiskey, but never gin — it will bruise the juniper flavor. Stir your gin drinks.
  •  Don’t shake bubbly things: Soda, champagne, etc. Float it on top of your drink.
  • You have to shake HARD especially if you have fruit in the shaker.
  • A cocktail has 1 to 1.5 oz of booze per drink. You can measure with a jigger (or a shot glass).

Step 4. Provide some bites.

Boozing on an empty stomach is not a good idea. Provide some low-mess finger foods, like cheese and crackers or chips and dip. I wanted to avoid plates, since you’ll have plenty of other things to navigate — bottles of booze, garnishes, etc. Tiny sandwiches and raw veggies are also great options. Avoid greasy things or things that are too much for one bite. Again, no one wants to juggle mixology and holding a plate.

Step 5. Get crafting!


Start with a base liquor. I had a vodka base, since vodka is my thing. I also had aperol, which was my second step. Aperol is citrusy, so I already had my garnish planned: Orange. I consulted Julia to figure out what else I wanted. Going with my citrus theme, I threw lemon juice and simple syrup into my shaker. After shaking, I poured it into my martini glass and topped with soda. Boom. Done.

Step 6. Write it down.

You will not remember your measurements if you wait too long. Make sure you write down your recipes, and you can go the extra mile by providing your guests little stationary cards to take home with them or a chalkboard for pictures.

Step 7. Pics or it didn’t happen.


Speaking of pictures… be sure to take a sip then immediately a pic. You don’t want your drink to look half empty when you finally get around to a pic. I kept sipping then topping off my glass, so that’s an option too.

Set up a photo station for your guests — near natural lighting in a space with a nice background and some fun props.

Step 8. Drink!

This one is self explanatory, don’t you think? Enjoy!


5 thoughts on “How to Throw a DIY Cocktail Party

  1. Pingback: A Few of Our Favorite Things: July | It's Not Hou It's Me | Houston Lifestyle, Food and Culture Blog

  2. Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a leisure account it.

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