To create an easygoing atmosphere, set a drink menu in the same spirit. In other words, have a few good wines on hand in addition to nonalcoholic options and a standout cocktail or two. We whipped up "appletinis" and cranberry cosmos.
A separate small table can act as the bar. Arrange the offerings -- liquor, glasses, tools, napkins, and ice -- so guests can help themselves. (Plan on three 5-pound bags of ice for every 10 guests.)
Glassware and Bar Tools
The basics will do just fine. Use wineglasses (for wine and nonalcoholic drinks), martini glasses (for cocktails), pitchers, and stirrers. You'll also need a corkscrew, cocktail shaker, strainer, ice bucket, tongs, and toothpicks.
Lemon and lime wedges, and lemon peel, will take care of most drinks. For appletinis and cosmos, use apple slices and fresh cranberries.
For 10 guests, you'll need two bottles each red and white; for 20, five bottles each; for 30, eight bottles each. (Good red choices include Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, and Merlot; for white wines, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc.)
For Appletinis and Cosmos
Vodka: For 10 guests, two 750-ml bottles; for 20, three liters; for 30, four liters. Cointreau: For 10 to 30 guests, one 750-ml bottle. Sour-apple-flavor liqueur: For 10 guests, one 750-ml bottle; for 20, one liter; for 30, two liters. Cranberry-juice cocktail: For up to 20 guests, one quart; for 30, two quarts. White apple juice: For 10 to 30 guests, one quart.
For Nonalcoholic Drinks and Mixers
Orange and grapefruit juices: For 10 guests, you will need two quarts each; for 20, four; for 30, six. Sparkling water: For 10, six 32-ounce bottles; for 20, 12; for 30, 18.