Creating a Dorm Room Bar

Oh, the joys of college. Gone are the nights when you had nothing to do but sit around and contemplate the meaning of art–now you can do it after drinking! Or while dancing! But why bother leaving the comfort of your room when you can set up a bar in your own building? Whether you’re looking to avoid pricey bar drinks by hosting a weekend hangout in your dorm, or throwing a full-blown event in the common room, there are some simple tricks to make sure your bar stays functional and fun for everyone around.

Stocking the storeroom. Variety of beverage types and expensiveness levels here is key. If you’re making mixed drinks and want to stick with just one type of alcohol, it’s worth having a couple different types of mixers so people can pick what they like. If you’re buying more than one bottle, it’ll be easier on your wallet if you buy a cheaper option to save for later on in your soirée. It is worth mentioning that, as we grow older and not necessarily wiser, many people develop an intense aversion to a certain type of alcohol that once was not so kind to them. Some can’t stand tequila, some treat rum as if it might bite them if they get too close, while others still can’t stomach the idea of any type of hard alcohol. Don’t take these preexisting handicaps personally, but do expect them and make sure to have a couple cheap beers or a nice bottle of 2-Buck Chuck on hand. These will also be a good fallback if you run out of all other supplies.

Another note on preparation: don’t get so carried away with your booze purchases that you forget to get cups to put them in. An obvious problem when you spell it out, but a cup deficit is a pretty common occurrence. Always have more than necessary because, just as with most alcohols, you can always save extras for the next time.

Setting Up. Just as an artist needs a work-space, your guests or “barkeep” will need a good space to make drinks. If you’re hosting a cozy hangout amongst friends and have a coffee table, that can be an easy place to put bottles and cups. However, if your guests aren’t going to be sitting down, it makes more sense to have something at hip level. If your desk is free of both work and laundry, that’s one easy drink station (move your computer), but my personal favorite is the reversed bookshelf. Your bookshelf is usually a cleaner surface than your desk, and tends to be more mobile if you want to move it to a more central corner of your dorm or common room. By flipping your bookshelf around (so that the flat backside faces out), you create a clean, solid place to put a drink list if you like. It also is just enough of a change of your ordinary living space to make it feel different and bar-like. Plus, it protects your scholarly books from spillage.

Manning the Fort. Decide what kind of bar setup works best for your function. If you’re having a small function with close friends, it’s probably best to put supplies out in an accessible place and let people pour as they may. However, if you’re hosting a bigger party, it might be best to let the hosts take turns playing bartender. This allows you to minimize mess, better space your supplies through the night, and gives the opportunity to cut off anyone who’s becoming a danger to themselves or the other dancers on the floor. It doesn’t have to be a super formal or precise, but it can give your joyfully chaotic room some semblance of order. After all, the primary goal here is to have an amazing night, keep everyone in one piece, and minimize your cleanup for tomorrow!

Suggested Liquor Cabinet.
1 bottle gin
1 handle of vodka
tonic… lots of tonic
cranberry juice
bottle of wine
2 six packs

Originally posted on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

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