Dining & Entertaining
Refreshingly Simple Summer Drink Serveware Ideas
Sipping a cold beverage in the hot sun is one of the many joys of outdoor living. And it’s even better with the right barware and drinkware at the ready. This ensures you have the tools needed to shake, stir, pour, or blend quick cocktails or mocktails for guests, and plenty of beautiful glasses for a refreshing presentation. Read on to learn tips, tricks, and must-have tools for effortless summertime libations.
Add Variety to Your Summer Drinkware: Think Beyond Tumblers
Consider expanding your glassware options beyond water glasses, tumblers, and white wine glasses. While these are the fundamentals of cold-beverage drinkware, there are other options for your summertime drinks. Add variety to your collection with these styles:
Rocks glasses. Also known as a low-ball glass, these glasses are made for spirits and cocktails served on the rocks, neat, or straight up. They typically have straight sides.
Old fashioned glasses. Whether single or double size, old fashioned glasses are elegant classics. They often have slightly angled sides to differentiate them from rocks glasses, but they can be used interchangeably.
Tumblers and water glasses. These workhorse glasses come in tall and short versions and are great for day-to-day use and entertaining. They are perfect for water, soda, gin or vodka tonics, and any summer mixed drink served over ice.
Stemless wine glasses. These sophisticated and versatile glasses are perfect for wine, but also for spritzers, water, juice, soda, smoothies, cocktails, mocktails, and daiquiris.
Stemmed glasses. There are a wide variety of stemmed glasses to choose from and you don’t need them all. Think about the cold cocktails and wines you enjoy most often and get the stemmed glasses that match your taste. Some to consider:
- Champagne flutes
- Red wine glasses
- White wine glasses
- Martini glasses
- Margarita glasses
- Hurricane glasses
Beer mugs and pilsner glasses. These are must-haves for microbrew fans. Add a wedge of lime to light lagers.
Mason jar mugs. Almost any beverage looks inviting in a mason jar glass. As a bonus, the handle means drinks stay cold longer because you aren’t warming the sides of the glass with your hand.
Moscow mule mugs. Filled with iced cocktails (moscow mules or other), the outside of these bright copper mugs develop condensation that looks oh-so refreshing on a hot day.
Keep in mind, there are no hard and fast rules for glasses styles and the drinks you serve in them. For example, if you have martinis once in a blue moon, skip the martini glasses and serve them straight up in coupes when entertaining.
Finally, explore styles beyond clear glass, such as etched, bubbled, smoked, or colored glass.
Use Pitchers and Dispensers for Summer Gatherings
When you’re mixing up summer drinks for a crowd, it’s helpful to make large batches that people can serve themselves. This also gives you time to relax and enjoy the gathering, rather than mixing your famous margarita on the rocks guest by guest.
Glass or stoneware pitchers. Clear glass pitchers show off the bright colors and fruits of many summer beverages. A colored glass pitcher adds a festive accent to the patio dining table or an accent table by the fire pit. Or, you can give your backyard event a rustic or French country vibe with drinks served in a stoneware pitcher. Summer cocktails, mocktails, and beverages that lend themselves to pitcher service:
Sangria (white or red)
Margarita (frozen or on the rocks)
Lime or strawberry daiquiri (frozen or on the rocks; with or without alcohol)
Piña colada (with or without alcohol)
Lemonade (spiked or non-alcoholic)
- Avoid watered-down cocktails or non-alcoholic beverages by leaving the ice out of the pitcher. Instead, have guests fill their glasses from the ice bucket and pour themselves.
- For frozen pitchers, make enough for the takers and no extra.
- Sparkling mocktails and cocktails should also be made in batches that will go fast, so they don’t sit and go flat.
Drink dispensers. These are perfect for large crowds. Fill the dispenser with your signature cocktail, mocktail, or beverage. Then set glasses and ice buckets nearby and have guests serve themselves. Some dispensers include a separate insert for ice that keeps the beverage cold without watering it down.
These large dispensers are also a great way to keep cold water on tap, either for long summer days in the yard or for entertaining. For a refreshing twist of flavor, add berries, citrus slices, cucumber slices, or fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, or rosemary.
Stock the Bar Cart or Trolley
Make mixology simple with a well-stocked bar cart. You can use an indoor bar cart on wheels for indoor events and the occasional outdoor gathering—simply move the cart near the patio door, or even outside if the weather is nice. If you throw a lot of outdoor events, however, you’ll want a wheeled cart made of weather-resistant acacia or eucalyptus wood that you can simply stock when entertaining.
What you stock depends on what you’re serving. To make it extra easy, choose several cocktails with one foundational spirit. Then, provide alternative liquors and simple mixers for guests with different preferences. Rum-based cocktails, for example, are staples of summer. Here’s how to stock a cart for mai tais, mojitos, daiquiris, and more:
- White and dark rum
- Fresh lime juice (squeeze ahead to save time)
- Lime wedges
- Simple syrup (measure one part sugar and one part water into a saucepan and cook on low until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once completely cool, transfer to a glass bottle for your bar.)
- Agave syrup
- Orange curaçao
- Pineapple juice
- Orange juice
- Club soda
Then also stock your bar with a bottle each of vodka, gin, tequila, wine, and non-alcoholic spirits for those who don’t enjoy rum.
The bar tools you need include:
- Bottle opener
- Ice bucket
If you’re serving frozen summer cocktails, you’ll also need a high-powered blender nearby.
Keep Your Summertime Drinks Frosty
Summer drinks are at their refreshing best when they stay cold until served. The tools you need will vary based on what’s on the drink menu, but here are some possibilities:
Wine coolers. A hammered copper or marble wine cooler is perfect for sharing a bottle of chardonnay or pinot grigio on the front porch on a sultry summer day.
Beverage tubs. Fill with ice, and keep white wine, rose, beer, soda, and juice cold for all-day backyard barbecues. You can find beverage tubs with stands, or those that sit directly on the patio or a sturdy patio table. Galvanized steel and embossed copper have farmhouse appeal that’s perfect for outdoor entertaining.
Growlers. For small gatherings, fill growlers with different beer varieties from a local taphouse or brewery and serve each guest a flight. Use flight beverage servers or set small glasses on a slate tray for each guest, writing the name of the brews in chalk.
Before you stock up on drinkware and barware, remember to think through the types of summer drinks you love, and the drinks your guests enjoy most. Choose your glasses, tools, and drink serveware strategically, and they’ll be in use―and appreciated―all summer long.