20 August 2014

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Organiser's Guide - Pop-up bars


Don't let a barless venue get in the way of your party. Hire a temporary-bar specialist and serve drinks just about anywhere.


We’ve all been to that event: the one that’s billed as a rip-roaring good time, only to find untrained waiters handing out polycarbonate cava and bottles of tepid Beck’s. Treating your guests’ tongues properly can be the difference between a night to remember and the less attractive opposite. The trend for cocktails in London bars remains in full flow and we have all become discerning imbibers. Expectations are high and guests want options. Good options.

In a venue without a bar, this isn’t always straightforward. To get cocktail bar standards, you need to hire a temporary bar specialist. Not only will this facilitate dispensing proper, chilled drinks wherever and however you please, the service will come with fully trained staff, ready to fire off perfect Manhattans en masse.

The other advantage of a pop-up bar is that you needn’t be restricted to where you organise the event. The only prerequisites are enough light to see and plenty of ice. Even in heat, ice will keep itself cold when stored in one place, so fridges are only necessary for multi-day events. If you're running a cash bar, you’ll have to apply for a temporary event licence and have a licence holder present, which can be arranged by a pop-up bar company. A free bar is free of paperwork.

When you get in contact with the pop-uppers, you'll need to know your budget, crowd size and location, but you also want to think about how much space the bar needs. Glassware takes up a lot of room, as does the ice needed to keep Champagne cold and mix up cocktails. And don’t forget theming: drinks, decoration and uniform can all be set to suit the event, provided you brief the company properly. It’s also best to do a site inspection with your chosen supplier beforehand.

Concerned that a large group, all arriving at the same time, won’t get served fast enough? With proper planning and a skilled workforce, this needn’t be an issue. Most cocktails can be pre-mixed and batched up in large quantities beforehand. The rest is pour and go. Think about drink-specific bars: one for Champagne, one for cocktails, and so on. This makes the experience of getting drinks fun and painless. Remember, the bigger the event, the shorter the menu should be. If you’re not sure what to go for, ask for a pre-event tasting. You could even create your own event-specific cocktail. 

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