All December long, we're bringing you the recipes, tips and tricks you need to Feast your way through the holidays, no matter how you celebrate the season.
If you're not sitting at home in sweatpants and falling asleep before the ball drops this year (no judgment), then it's time to take your New Year's party to new heights. Two words: Champagne bar. It's easier than it sounds, and it's going to make your party sparkle.
Don't panic. We tap Sam Masters—brand manager at Lela Rose, party thrower, event designer and all-around class act—to show us how to build the bar. From cocktail fixings to oversize buckets, his tips will inspire you in no time. Watch the video for a full tutorial and read his tips below. Just don't blame us when everyone demands you throw another New Year's party next year.
① Bucket List
Buy Champagne buckets big enough to hold a few bottles, so that guests can drop their hostess gifts straight into ice and you won't have to keep replenishing the stock during the party. Feel free to get creative, too. Masters uses large, fiberglass garden planters he picked up from a garden store.
② Location, Location, Location
Avoid a bottleneck at the main bar and set up the Champagne somewhere else, like in a hallway or your bedroom. Carve out its own dedicated spot, and the Champagne bar can have its own moment, Masters says.
③ Mix and Match Barware
New Year's Eve is a great time to break out all the seldom-used glassware in your cabinets. Stick that single highball you found at the flea market right next to your row of flutes and whatever else can hold some bubbly.
④ Pair the Snacks
Always have a snack that matches the drinks at the bar, Masters says. For a Champagne bar, that means Champagne truffles—what else?
⑤ More Is More Is More
Masters says that a full bar is a good bar. You want a little space for people to mix a drink, but keep the table covered as best as possible. It looks festive and inviting.
⑥ Cocktail Hour
Offer a few items for guests to make cocktails that are easy but impressive. Masters likes pouring Champagne over a little St-Germain and adding a rosemary sprig. Other options include a spoonful of pomegranate seeds, a couple of frozen blackberries, or a dash of bitters and pinch of edible roses, which are available at tea stores.
Or, for something really different, throw a small piece of cotton candy into each glass for guests to pour the Champagne over; it's surprising, fun to watch and dissolves to leave a touch of sweetness. Don't overwhelm or intimidate your guests, Masters says, but offer them a few choices where they can express themselves.
⑦ Bottle Service
Splurge on a few good bottles of Champagne to serve at the beginning of the night, Masters advises, and save the Prosecco and cava, which have lower price points, for the end. Masters like Taittinger Champagne, Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne and Mionetto Prosecco for an inexpensive option.
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