How to Set Up a Champagne Bar
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Bubbles always keep the party going! Create a festive champagne bar with bottles of bubbly, plus mixers and garnishes so your guests can go wild with imagination.
There’s just something super festive about bubbles—even popping the cork is fun! If you want to make that bubbly last all night without having to actually pour every single glass, set up a self-serve champagne bar with sparkling wine, mixers and garnishes. Your guests can create their own fizzy cocktails, and you can have time to actually enjoy everyone’s company at your own party.
While we say champagne bar, you don’t have to use real Champagne for this. Remember: All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Only bubbles from the Champagne region of France is technically Champagne (and always gets the capital “C”). Everything else is generally referred to as sparkling wine, including Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy and those made here in the U.S.
When you’re serving a crowd and encouraging sparkling cocktails, it’s OK to serve less expensive bottles. Save the high-end vintage stuff for another occasion. Now let’s set up the ultimate champagne bar and party!
What to Include on a Champagne Bar
What Type of Champagne to Use
While you can find budget-friendly true Champagne, you’ll want to opt for a dry, non-vintage domestic sparkling wine or a good Prosecco or Cava for a champagne bar. You’ll save a few dollars and can buy more without sacrificing quality.
There are many to choose from, including the delicious Francois Montand Brut from the Jura region of France, or Jacqueline Leonne Rosé from New Mexico. Check with your favorite wine shop or big-box beverage store before stocking up. Here are some of our favorite picks for the best cheap champagne.
To create that DIY champagne bar magic, have plenty of mixers for your guests. They can keep it simple and stick with a holiday mimosa or go wild with their imagination. Some things to stock up on to encourage cocktail greatness:
- Juices: Cranberry, orange, grapefruit, pear, apple and pomegranate all work well with sparkling wine. Even tomato juice works if you want to make it zesty!
- Sparkling water: Seltzer, club soda or any type of non-flavored sparkling water will add extra fizz to any concoction. Tonic water can also come in handy for some cocktails. Yes, bubbles on bubbles are totally fine.
- Sweeteners: Make a simple syrup and serve in a pretty spouted bottle; you can even add flavors with herbs and fruit. Supply a bottle of Grenadine for extra festive color. Sugar cubes look pretty in twinkling holiday lights and are fun to pop into a glass of bubbly. Or make citrus zest-scented sugars to rim the glass.
- Bitters: A dash or two of Angostura aromatic bitters or orange bitters elevate any cocktail.
Half the fun of a champagne bar is encouraging your guests to experiment, and extra spirits will really bring on the holiday spirit! Some basics we suggest having on hand:
- St. Germain elderflower liqueur
- Creme de Cassis
Garnishes will add decorative flair to a cocktail, but they can also amp up flavor. Fill decorative glasses, bowls and plates with some of the following and place them around your DIY champagne bar.
- Berries: Have a good selection of fruit at the ready to pop into a glass. Any sort of berry works, like blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries. You can even go an extra step and freeze pre-made fruit skewers so your guests can easily pop them in their cocktails. They’re pretty and they’ll keep things chilled.
- Citrus: Prepare lemon, lime and orange slices. Make pre-cut lemon and grapefruit twists for an easy squeeze.
- Fresh herbs: Fresh mint, rosemary and thyme are all great additions for cocktails.
- Fancy accouterments: Edible gold flakes almost feel mandatory for a New Year’s Eve bash. Rock candy sticks can be fun and festive. Luxardo cherries are wonderful for traditional cocktails and sparkling ones. Serve flavored salts for savory sprinkles.
Whether a flute, coupe or wine glass, make sure there are enough for your guests—and keep a few extra on hand for any breakage mishaps or when people misplace their glass. The best glass for drinking Champagne may surprise you, but for sparkling cocktails, any will do. Mix it up!
Make sure your guests know what they can do with everything in front of them. Wherever you place your champagne bar, make signs with notecards or chalkboards, or put down a paper table cover and write directly on it to show what’s what.
Have a few cocktail recipes laying around to get everyone’s bubbles going. Make sure there are jiggers, bar spoons, ice—whatever you might need to make a proper cocktail. Make it festive with flowers, candles, a few sprinkles of confetti or party favors.
How Much Champagne to Buy
One bottle of bubbly is enough for about eight cocktails, so know how many people are coming before you shop. Have a few extra bottles for those just-in-case moments, and be sure to include nonalcoholic champagne as well.
Remember: Don’t open all the bottles at once. Open a couple at a time, and use stoppers to make sure the champagne lasts after opening. While it may seem fun to pop the cork like in the movies, make sure you don’t pop someone’s eye and learn how to open a champagne bottle the right way.
Champagne Cocktail Recipes
Most people already know that orange juice and sparkling wine make a mimosa, or that creme de cassis and Champagne is a Kir Royale. But encourage your guests to go beyond the basics with other champagne cocktails, like an elegant French 75 or this delicious pear and ginger sparkler. Here’s one based on a brandy old fashioned with some fizz:
- 1 sugar cube or 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 6 dashes bitters
- 1/2 ounce brandy
- 1/2 cup chilled champagne
- Optional: Fresh rosemary sprig and fresh or frozen cranberries
Place sugar in a champagne flute or cocktail glass; sprinkle with bitters. Add brandy; top with champagne. If desired, top with rosemary and cranberries.