Garden bar ideas – the best way to entertain al fresco

Add entertainment value to your outdoor space with a glorious garden bar

Garden bar ideas
Photography: Emma Lee
(Image credit: Future)

As our gardens become larger extensions of our home, increasing the usage and comfort of our 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.

How do you make a garden bar?

Garden bar ideas

Photography: Polly Wreford

(Image credit: Future)

Depending on your taste and budget garden bar options are extensive. 

Simple and mobile drinks trollies can be purchased to serve a selection of drinks on a balcony or in a tiny garden are the easiest of mobile additions. Or, as repurposing wooden palettes are 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 landscape garden 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 BBQ that is convenient, contemporary and impressive. 

What do you put in a garden bar? 

Garden bar ideas

Photography: Emma Lee

(Image credit: Future)

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 and 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 were 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 beautifully into its surroundings. Jazz up bare walls with artwork or signage and potted fresh herbs for drinks will add color and fragrance to the scene.  

Consider lighting options; festoon or fairy lights will transform your watering hole into a magical twilight retreat at dusk. Or, for a more professional stance 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 or casual outdoor sofas nearby will create a relaxed lounge-style atmosphere. 

The below backyard bars, serving sheds, bespoke beer gardens and courtyard cocktail lounge ideas will help you raise your garden party game whatever your budget. 

Garden bar ideas

1. Go for an effortless classic 

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Future)

The trusty wooden shed is a compact and versatile structure that can be made convertible to use either as a garden bar or storage system with a removable hatch. This budget-friendly and time-honored ship-lap design makes a workable blank canvas to paint and style to your taste which will safeguard the surface. 

Jon Cooper of BC Profiles recommends: 'Once you have completed the build of your outdoor bar, remember to take good care of your design to ensure longevity, especially during the winter months! Painting your bar not only adds a touch of colour, but it can provide a layer of protection against moisture and the sun's harmful UV rays, meaning less chance of rot or color fade.'

2. Enjoy a small tipple

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Tiny gardens and balconies can enjoy cocktail hour too. Roll in a vintage style drinks trolley with tiers. Display beautifully bottled beverages on the bottom shelf and pour and serve from the top. A round design with black metal finish adds a touch of industrial chic. 

3. Add Spanish flavors

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Hill House Interiors)

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 and slated sliding doors for a crisp and contemporary finish. 

4. Create some shade

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Neolith)

On sunny days bartenders need shade so a covered garden bar is a must and will provide shelter for guests also. A pergola will make a useful and attractive solution as it adds height and throws linear shadows into space. Grow climbing fruit plants such as passionflower or grapevines up and over to create a cooling and fragrant canopy. Fresh ripe fruit can then be added to drinks from your crop. 

5. Make storage modular and weather-proof

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Danetti)

Choose an adaptable storage system that can be customized for your needs. A sleek mix of aluminum shelving is water-tight and convenient for plenty of equipment that can be added to or reduced when necessary. A built-in ice bucket makes a bonus feature that is ultra-smart and beneficial.

6. Impress with a champagne afternoon tea

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: SolaAir Sequin Walls UK)

Perk up a timber-framed garden bar with a decorative wall panel that shimmers and sparkles. Continue the feminine and pretty look with planters and hanging baskets full of country-cottage style blooms and serve drinks in vintage cups and saucers. 

7. Warm up by a fire

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Morsø)

A rustic pitch-roof garden bar is warming and organic when teamed with a wood-fired oven. This Scandinavian-style set up can be ultra cozy during winter months too. Declan Kingsley-Walsh, Managing Director at Morsø UK, 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.”

A long chimney will funnel away the smoke from diners perched at side ledges enjoying pre-dinner drinks. Add blankets and faux fur to complete the ‘Hygge-like’ experience.

8. Lavish a pavilion

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Crown Pavilions)

Commission a monumental garden bar that is a cut above the rest. For year-round comfort and entertainment incorporate an indoor venue that includes double-glazing and electricity to install mod-cons and boost the extravagance. A sheltered hot tub and raised seating terrace for the ultimate outdoor garden room exudes luxury.

9. Enjoy the setting

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Lundhs)

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 its best to be near the kitchen. Look for areas that have a pretty outlook that set in the sunshine for as long as possible. 

10. Go under a gazebo

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Oak Designs Co.)

Build an architectural structure to add wow-factor. 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 factors such as sink, fridge and outdoor cooking options.

11. Design a focal point

Garden bar ideas

(Image credit: Landform Consultants)

Make your alfresco bar the feature of the garden that’s urban and refreshing. For a sense of down-town oasis position a contemporary bar centrally and surround with lush, shady and structural planting. Choose materials that throw in a rich and designer look 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.’