Tuesday, 29 November 2016

How To Run An Alco-Free Bar [Tutorial - Part 1]

I  spent most of Monday morning packing away my bar stuff from Saturday night.  The Barn Dance was excellent,  but I was really busy all evening.  I never got to dance,  and I never got a photo of the cocktails either.  
Here's my two boxes of kit all ready to return to the loft. I've been asked for my Mocktail Recipes, so here are a few tips to help you run your own alcohol free bar. There are two ways of doing this.  Either make a small number of drinks beforehand, or mix to order. 
For my WWDP Y-pray? Conference in April, I made three drinks, and put them in Kilner 'Beverage Dispensers'
These usually cost around £12 and hold 5 litres [about 35 drinks] I was fortunate to pick mine up for a fiver each in Wilko Sale! This summer I found a similar one for £3 in a charity shop. The three drinks I chose were orange, pink and blue. [recipes to follow below] I also had umbrellas, cherries and citrus slices on sticks- plus ice cubes.
Here's a photo from the conference - you can see how pretty the drinks look, and also note that I am wearing catering gloves. Not glamorous, but more hygienic when I am picking up cherries and ice cubes and things!
This is the best way when you want to serve a lot of people quickly.
On Saturday people were coming more slowly in between dances to get a drink, and I had time to make up more personalised drinks.
These all follow the same basic formula

  • put a couple of ice cubes in the glass
  • add 10ml of 'base' [cordial or pure juice]
  • top up with 'fizz' [lemonade, cola, tonic or cherryade]
  • add garnish and umbrella
Various cordials and juices plus the 3 sodas makes a surprising number of variations. The blue drink requires curaçao syrup.***
Using regular 'Paris Goblets' here's the quantities & cals per glass

BLUE MOON  4.64 litres 31 glasses    30cals
140 ml blue curaçao syrup
500 ml lime juice cordial
4 litres tonic      
GOLDEN SUNRISE 4 litres 28 glasses 20 cals
1 litre orange juice
250ml ginger ale
2.75 litres lemonade
AUTUMN SUNSET 5 litres  35 glasses  10 cals
400ml red fruits double concentrate squash
250ml orange juice
4.35 litres lemonade     

***Blue curacao syrup costs £5.50 a bottle [from Makro, Beers Of Europe, or online - not too hard to find, and a bottle will make around 150 glasses. It lasts ages!
The recipes above are flexible - I use 'no added sugar' cordials and 'basics' fizz and fruit juices. That selection will make more than 90 drinks, and at current prices work about between 5p and 14p each [the blue one is the dearest!]
Don't forget to add in the cost of cocktail sticks, cherries, olives, citrus slices and little umbrellas [and plastic cups if you use them]. All of which can add a further 10p to each drink
I charge 25p a drink - that helps offset the initial cost of buying the dispensers and replacing the inevitable broken glasses. I don't make any profits!
I will publish the more comprehensive menu later. 
UPDATE - I just discovered I did take a couple of photos on Saturday- one of the bar and one of the dancing...


  1. Can I just say- your energy levels never cease to amaze me :-)

  2. We had a barn dance at church for harvest. I'm afraid all we'd prepared was serve-it-yourself fruit juice and some lemonade. Not in your league at all : )


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!