Drink station ideas are a must if you love to entertain in style. After all, whether you host regular get-togethers with friends or just the occasional gathering with your nearest and dearest, your guests will need refreshments.
Serving tasty tipples from a beautiful display is a surefire way to elevate the ambiance and make your event a success. And there are plenty of ways to go about it – from rustic tables decorated with pretty vintage details to light-up ice buckets that are perfect for upping the party mood.
We've brought together an edit of our favorite drinks station setups to get you inspired for your next big do. Alongside other top garden party ideas, you'll be the host with the most in no time.
Dazzle guests with these 11 drink station ideas for outdoor entertaining
Whatever your garden party's theme, you'll find a drinks setup to suit from this mix.
1. Surround a lemonade stand with pretty planters
Setting up a soft drinks station is a great idea when planning a backyard wedding or other large outdoor get-together. And what could be more refreshing on a hot summer's day than a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade?
A glass drinks dispenser makes it easy for guests to serve themselves. Pair with vintage milk bottles and stripy paper straws for a nostalgic twist, and don't forget to provide plenty of ice, slices of freshly-cut fruit, and perhaps some sprigs of mint for a garnish.
Dot planters filled with pretty blooms around the setup for extra charm – pelargoniums are always a summertime favorite with their bright colors.
2. Create a colorful backdrop for your outdoor drinks station
An easy way to make your drinks station feel more special is to create a show-stopping backdrop. This could be as simple as a colorful garden screen, but another option is to attach a pretty patterned throw or other length of fabric to a fence or wall.
This garden fence decoration idea is budget-friendly and will instantly make your setup seem fresh. Use glassware in complementary colors to pull the scheme together harmoniously, and finish the scene with candle-lit lanterns dotted around your table for a magical glow.
3. Elevate small gatherings with a drinks trolley
For more intimate gatherings, a portable drinks trolley is a brilliant alternative to a full-sized outdoor bar.
A double-tiered, circular design like this one will make a welcome addition to a modern patio setup. And you can bring it indoors once the party's over – it would look just as stylish in a kitchen corner. You could always replace the drinkware with potted herbs until your next alfresco party.
4. Bring indoor furniture outside for the occasion
If good weather is on the cards, rather than investing in new garden furniture just for a special event, consider bringing indoor tables and chairs outside.
Perhaps a wooden counter that you may usually have in a study or dining room corner could be given a new lease of life on your patio – just add a pretty table runner to protect it from spills, then load it up with trays of glasses and jugs filled with punch.
Bunting always boosts the party mood, and you can even make some yourself if you fancy a spot of crafting. We love this chalkboard idea, too, for a fun garden decor idea – great for adding a personal touch to the scene or for writing up a drinks menu.
5. Mix and match vintage containers for an elegant drinks display
There is plenty of gorgeous outdoor party and garden wedding decor ready to buy brand new. But, if you want to make a saving, it's worth checking out secondhand shops and online marketplaces for bits and pieces that'll take your drinks station up a notch.
Old buckets, galvanized troughs, urns, and wire baskets make perfect vessels for adding character to your setup. Fill with fresh lemons or limes and seasonal blooms for a rustic, countryside-cottage vibe. Tapered candles in vintage candlesticks are a lovely touch, and don't forget to keep an eye out for old table linens to add to the theme.
6. Go for a simple and sophisticated scheme
Simple yet elegant drink station ideas are perfect for setting a sophisticated tone.
Arrange tumblers decorated with vintage, cut-glass effect patterns, elegant chutes, or coupe glasses onto a tiered drinks trolley. Then, fill glass bowls with ice and fresh fruit for a splash of color.
A cake stand can add height to the display, offering another level for arranging extra glasses or perhaps a posy of blooms. Just remember to get your bar cart in position first, to avoid any falls or spills.
7. Upcycle terracotta pots to store straws and napkins
If you're a fan of cheap garden ideas and are looking for ways to create a chic drinks station, then this is a winning approach.
Wash out old terracotta pots (or buy them new – they are usually very affordable) and, using stencils and chalkboard paint, create cute labels for a fresh look. They're ideal for storing straws, colorful napkins, and cutlery. Arrange them on a wooden chopping board alongside stacked tumblers and glass bottles filled with cordials and other delicious drinks for a laid-back look.
And once your party is over, you could always re-label your pots and plant them up with herbs.
8. Get your garden bar party-ready
A fully-fledged garden bar or she shed makes the perfect base for serving drinks in style at your next alfresco party. Make it feel extra special with bunting, ribbons, streamers, or brightly-colored banners – the more the merrier – and don't forget the balloons.
Pair with tropical-print glassware filled with island-style cocktails, and swag festoon lights overhead to effortlessly take your party from day to night. Your guests will never want to leave.
9. Pair reclaimed wine crates with logs for a rustic drinks setup
Old apple or wine crates make gorgeous props for a rustic garden drinks station and can be filled with glasses or used to create levels in your scheme. Pair with slices of log for a naturalistic tone – perfect for a whimsical country-fête vibe.
Ditzy-patterned china cups and saucers and teapots will extend the theme – whether you're using them to serve hot tea or botanical-inspired cocktails.
10. Light up your poolside drink station
Want to make a statement with your drink station ideas? Pick a design that lights up.
An instant mood booster, these ice buckets will keep your favorite beverages perfectly chilled and within arm's reach ready for post-swim refreshments. They're a fun addition to any hot tub or pool party.
11. Upgrade your patio with a chic bar
There are lots of bar setups you can buy from top outdoor furniture suppliers. With so many styles available, it's easy to find a look to suit your scheme, but we're loving this chic gray design for a contemporary backyard.
With plenty of storage space, a built-in ice bucket, and handy hooks for tongs and other utensils, it's practical as well as stylish. Pair with modern patio decor ideas – think potted architectural foliage, a patterned outdoor rug, and perhaps a patio heater or fire pit, for a setup that's always ready to entertain.
What drinks can you serve at a garden party?
Seasonal cocktails or mocktails always tend to go down a treat, and are made even better if you use fresh herbs to flavor them. Sarah Squire, Chairman of Squire's Garden Centres says, 'It is very easy to create a cocktail garden at home.'
The likes of rosemary, mint, and thyme can all be grown in containers on the patio and will instantly give your drinks a boost. You could learn how to grow strawberries or cucumbers, too – a delicious addition to a cold glass of Pimms, or to muddle with basil and lemonade for a refreshing soft drink.
'What better way to enjoy your garden than with a cocktail in your hand which includes your own homegrown produce?' Sarah says.
The team at Fentimans also suggests using edible flowers in your garden party drinks. 'Bright, vibrant flowers, such as pansies, are a wonderful way to inject a fresh color palette into your drink,' they say.
'They can bring out the best in even the simplest cocktail recipes. Choosing a classic combination, such as a pairing of your favorite gins and gin mixers, is as complicated as you need to get with this garnish.'
And if you're looking for winter drinks inspiration, there are tons of tasty mulled recipes that can be brewed up over a fire pit grill. Our winter garden party ideas guide has more cozy inspiration for hosting get-togethers over the colder months.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day.
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