Garden bar ideas have grown in popularity as our gardens become extensions of our home. Increasing the usage and comfort of outdoor space is now a vital part of garden design plans.
The ultimate entertainment station, a garden bar will become an enjoyable al fresco hub for your family and guests to come together and appreciate all year round.
If you've been contemplating outdoor kitchen ideas for your garden, then these stylish garden bars could be the perfect addition to your sociable outside space.
Garden bar ideas
These glorious garden bar ideas, including backyard bars, serving sheds, bespoke beer gardens and courtyard garden cocktail lounges, will help you raise your garden party game whatever your budget.
1. Set up a freestanding bar cart
Bar cart ideas are the perfect solution for a spot of impromptu entertaining, as it takes up far less space than a built-in garden or home bar. Small gardens and balconies can enjoy cocktail hour too.
A fully-stocked drinks station not only creates a decorative moment, it allows guests to help themselves, taking the pressure off the host! Don’t forget the staples – an ice bucket, a base spirit and mixers, a stash of spare glasses and bottles of fizz.
2. Invest in a weatherproof structure
Horizontal surfaces bear the brunt of the weather so it’s essential to choose surfaces that can handle downpours, direct sunlight and frost. Low maintenance is also a key factor, especially as barbecue food is often greasy and can stain surfaces. Natural stone, quartz and concrete are all popular options, while large-format porcelain tiles are great for modern backyards. Include a slight gradient to prevent rain pooling on the surface.
3. Add Spanish flavors
Be inspired by summer holidays abroad and build a luxurious haven of tranquility that echoes a high-end Mediterranean hotel bar.
Design and build a stylish outbuilding that pairs polished white plastered walls with slated sliding doors for a crisp and contemporary finish.
4. Create some shade
On sunny days, bartenders need shade - so a covered garden bar is a must and will provide shelter for guests also. Certain pergola ideas offer a useful and attractive solution, adding height and throwing linear shadows into space – key considerations for outdoor dining too.
Grow climbing fruit plants such as passionflower or grapevines up and over to create a cooling and fragrant canopy. Fresh ripe fruit from your crop can then be added to drinks.
5. Make space for a streamlined design
Plan an outdoor kitchen and bar area that can be customized for your needs.
Outdoor kitchens aren’t just for those blessed with huge gardens, as this streamlined urban design by Architecture for London shows. Sleek WWOO concrete shelves provide ample prep space and storage, with OneQ’s grilling system for flexible cooking. The shallow, wall-hung set up means there is plenty of space for guests to mingle.
6. Warm up by a fire
A freestanding garden bar is modern and contemporary when teamed with outdoor fireplace ideas, such as a wood-fired oven. This Scandinavian-style set up is ultra cozy during winter months too.
Declan Kingsley-Walsh, managing director of Morsø, says: ‘Your outdoor products may be outside for most of the year, so you’ll need durable materials, like cast iron, which is resilient and long-lasting.'
7. Invest in a hidden bar
This outdoor bar, complete with sink and dishwasher, means crockery and glassware can be washed and stored in situ. If you’re running hot water from the house, make sure the pipes are insulated. ‘When closed, the kitchen is completely weather resistant, making it perfect for the western hemisphere,’ says Tony Young, creative director, Urban Outdoors.
8. Enjoy the setting
Position your garden bar wisely. Find a social and practical space to relax and, if possible, enjoy a view.
If you tend to party into the night, choose areas away from bedroom windows. Or if you like to serve delicious food, it's best to be near the kitchen.
Look for areas with a pretty outlook that stay in the sunshine for as long as possible.
9. Go under a gazebo
Build an architectural structure to add wow-factor. While it may not be the most budget-friendly when it comes to outdoor kitchen costs, a garden room with oak framing and a slate tiled roof is a traditional choice that accentuates craftsmanship.
Position brickwork to the rear to create a wrap around bar area that allows plenty of space to include additional kitchen features such as a sink, fridge and outdoor cooking options.
10. Design a focal point
Turn your alfresco garden bar ideas into an urban and refreshing garden feature. For a sense of down-town oasis, position a contemporary bar centrally and surround it with flower bed ideas that feature lush, shady and structural planting. Choose materials that throw in a rich and designer look for contrast.
‘Choose materials that can withstand year-round exposure,' advises Rhiannon Williams, landscape architect and project manager at Landform Consultants. 'I would recommend a well-sealed natural stone top and treated wood cladding.’
How do you make a garden bar?
Depending on your taste and budget, garden bar options are extensive.
Mobile drinks trollies, to serve a selection of drinks on a balcony or in a tiny garden, are the simplest of mobile additions for easy garden party ideas. Or, as repurposing wooden palettes is now popular, a bespoke palette bar or pull-down serving shelf can be an interesting and rustic alternative.
For a more permanent structure, contemplate a summer-house or shed makeover by installing storage and a serving hatch.
As part of a backyard landscaping design, a specialized contractor can help you achieve your dream outdoor room, to include an outbuilding or dining zone complete with luxurious bar as part of an extensive outdoor kitchen, and a BBQ that is convenient, contemporary and impressive.
What do you put in a garden bar?
If you are serving drinks outdoors, then, of course, you need to stock your garden bar with essentials so that returning to the house for supplies is kept to a minimum.
Decide how simple or elaborate you want your refreshment venue to be, then draw up an inventory accordingly.
Plenty of glassware and drinks equipment can be stored permanently if covered, as well as tableware for snacks, which will add to the sense of occasion. Go for acrylic and melamine so there’s no need to worry about breakages.
When it comes to selecting beverages, choose vessels that can be stacked, stored and have longitude, such as cans and bottles. Beer drinkers will be impressed with an at-home beer tap or keg, or if it is cocktails you prefer, to be sure to have a selection of utensils a seasoned mixologist would require.
Chill factor is important, so if your garden bar is mains supplied, a mini-refrigerator will keep liquids cool. Otherwise, fill an icebox in preparation before guests arrive.
Authentic decoration will personalize the space and blend your garden bar ideas beautifully into their surroundings. Add interest and intrigue to bare walls with artwork or signage, and potted fresh herbs for drinks will add color and fragrance to the scene.
Consider decorative outdoor lighting ideas: festoon or fairy lights will transform your watering hole into a magical twilight retreat at dusk. Or, for a more professional look, install up-lighting in the ground to highlight your garden venue as night falls.
Seating is essential for comfortable garden entertaining. If your garden bar has an adequate ledge then robust weatherproof stools will make the serving area a social affair. Casual outdoor sofas nearby will create a relaxed lounge-style atmosphere.
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Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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