As much as we love meeting up with friends for an Aperol Spritz, getting a seat at an outdoor bar in the summer can be a serious challenge. Make your home the go-to spot by taking advantage of our garden bar ideas.
Garden bar ideas are one of the areas which have been rising in popularity recently - and for good reason, They bring a new dimension to your garden, allow you show off your mixology skills and futureproof your space for any future 'unprecedented times'.
Garden bar ideas
From replicas of loved locals to tropical Tiki huts, here are some of our favourite ways to create your very own garden bar ideas.
1. Choose a freestanding design
Perfect for rental properties, or just to add flexibility, it's great to consider freestanding garden bar ideas. As they're not built-in, you can move positions in the garden, and take it with you when you move.
These styles are also great to creating a distinct drinks zone alongside dining or garden seating ideas. Just add lanterns and container plants to make it an intimate zone.
2. Get upcycling
Give that old chest of drawers a new lease of life by upcycling it into an outdoor bar. The drawers are perfect for storing glasses, napkins, straws and all the equipment you might need for entertaining your guests.
Make sure you coat the wood in a weatherproof and protective wood stain to ensure it stays in tip-top condition. It's also worth replacing metal handles and any hinges with outdoor specific versions to avoid any rusting.
3. Create a pizza and Prosecco station
Pizza and Prosecco - name a better combo. Ensure you've got everything you need to throw parties all summer long by integrating your bar with a cooking space. The best pizza ovens are having something of a moment, so if you're including one in your outdoor space, think about your bar. Include shelving and drawers alongside the oven to store your cocktail essentials.
Perhaps even include a built-in ice bucket on the worktop. Finally, bar stools are essential to transform this into a space where people will naturally congregate.
4. Choose an ad hoc solution
Garden bar ideas don't have to cost a fortune or take lots of work. For budget garden ideas, veer away from this grander solutions. A simple tray is a classic for a reason. Focus on your accessories and you can make this way of serving drinks seem rather special.
Use your prettiest glassware, offer fresh garnishes and add fragrant flowers. For extra kudos, use edible flowers so guests can use them to top their cocktails for an Insta-ready finish.
5. Add stylistic signage
This is just as much about fun as it is function. Add a blackboard - or paint of section of wall in blackboard paint - to your garden bar ideas. This could be used to list the cocktails and drinks you have on offer, the schedule for the evening if you're hosting with garden party ideas, or simply as a way to keep the small ones amused.
Co-ordinate the colourful chalks with brightly coloured accessories, straws and glassware.
6. Dedicate a decking area
These homeowners had decking built at the back and front of the garden so that they could have a separate bar area, saying 'I spotted a picture of a small tiki bar in a magazine, and I just knew I had to have one.' Keeping the bar at the far end of a garden can help to keep the noise away form the house and neighbours, depending on how big the garden is of course.
7. Makeover the shed
Clear out the garden tools and transform a humble garden shed into a spectacular drinking spot for your own garden. Cut in a serving hatch and create a bar top to welcome guests to perch on barstools while serving drinks from the other side. Hang party signs and bunting to signify where the party's at. Surround with potted plants as a reminder of its roots, of a simple garden shed...now a fine drinking establishment for the garden.
8. Choose wall-mounted for small spaces
Even the smallest of outdoor spaces can accommodate a bar when you think vertically. A simple bar drop down bar suspended from the wall is a great way to fashion a compact outdoor bar.
When all you need is a wall to mount a bar on, it's possible to have a garden bar in any outdoor space - even balconies and constricting courtyards. DIY outdoor furniture ideas will open you up to a world of possibilities.
9. Repurpose a potting bench
Fashion a statement garden bar on a budget by repurposing a potting bench. Thanks to the plentiful storage the design doubles up perfectly to cater for all your drink station essentials. Instead of sorting seedlings use the bench to prepare the prefect G&T.
10. Entertain at an outdoor cocktail bar
Entertain at home in style by creating a cocktail-bar lounge vibe. ‘I would recommend a garden bar to make greater use of outside space,’ says Rhiannon Williams, landscape architect and project manager at Landform Consultants (opens in new tab). ‘A bar takes up a lot less space than a dining area.’
Select key fittings, such as an outdoor wine fridge or sink, then build the bar around these. ‘Choose materials that can withstand year-round exposure. I would recommend a well-sealed natural stone top and treated wood cladding,’ Rhiannon adds.
11. Create a luxury-look with a cocktail bar
'If you can’t go to the beach, bring the beach home,' says Greg Rhodes, the aptly named owner of this holiday-themed tiki bar. It's made from sheets of bamboo, with a straw roof, and LEDs that light up sheltered seating.
From the bamboo cladding to the under lights on the bench seating, this is a throughly well executed DIY Tiki bar. Celebrity spotting won't be as good here as a tropical five star holiday of course, but we bet the cocktails are just as impressive – and nowhere near as expensive!
12. Make a lean-to garden bar solution
If we were awarding the prize for most genius name, surely The Staying Inn would come out on top. This garden bar is the brainchild of the Carty family from Durham – who built it so they could be together.
'My husband, who was furloughed from work, decided to build the bar to enable us to all be together at least in the garden where we could have a socially distanced drink and a catch up. He has no official joinery experience and works as an electrician.' Thanks to his hard work, ‘The Staying Inn’ is definitely the new going out spot for the Carty clan.
13. Tempt with a garden gin bar
A bottle of Hendrick's in a bowtie, Fever Tree bunting and balloon gin glasses, what's not to love?! Surely every garden deserves a gin bar just like this one.
14. Cleverly convert the garage into a bar
Maybe you'd prefer a speakeasy vibe, with your bar hidden from view or you simply don't have the garden space to spare? Whatever the reason this ingenious garage bar is a fabulous idea to inspire. From the artificial grass flooring the faux palm tree we love it all!
15. Go all out with a nautical hot tub bar
Christened 'The Fat Pug' Daniel Keenan's bar incorporates a hot tub and even flowerbeds. 'The bar is fully equipped with a TV, fridge and freezer and LED lights that are paired with Alexa,' Daniel explains. Sounds like he has few reasons to use the house!
16. Choose a mediterranean-style terrace bar
St Andrews-based Allan's garden bar features a fire pit so it can be enjoyed late into the evenings. Well it does get especially chilly north of the border.
'We built it in the first place as a family project, and it has been a great help during lockdown,' says Allan. 'We can't wait to get to use it with the rest of our friends and family once lockdown is lifted.'
17. Open a sophisticated shed bar
Simply taking some panels out and staining it black has made this shed-like structure a sophisticated garden bar – worthy of high praise. We'd happily sit in the sunshine in this garden, cold beers and fun outdoor games. Win, win.
18. Light up a garden bar with rope lighting
We're big fans of this rope light feature, what a fabulous use of lighting above the bar. This feels like a feature you'd seen in a trendy hipster bar, a great take-away to inspire the humble garden bar.
19. Fashion a fancy garden cocktail bar with ceiling drapes
To create a fancy cocktail bar finish this competition entry has swathed the ceiling in fabric – to create an upmarket marquee kind of feel. The upcycled country-style dresser and the cocktail sign add further attention to detail.
20. Add bright colours for a beach-style Tiki bar
This Tiki bar feels more like that found on the beach in a paradise location, more than a garden on home soil. The pops of sunshine yellow help to create a summer vibe.
21. Wheel the drinks trolley outside
When all your really need is a moveable solution, save the faff and expensive of making an outdoor bar – simply wheel out your stylish indoor bar cart. A drinks trolley with wheels is easy to manoeuvre from indoor to out and if you don't have space for a large bar table, a drinks trolley on wheels is just the thing to deliver cold drinks to thirsty guests.
Of course remove all the glass items before wheeling it anywhere. A good idea is to swap out any glassware in favour of melamine, to ensure drinks outdoors are more resilient to the elements – the last thing you want is a slight gust of wind to topple and smash your favourite gin glass.
22. Keep it simple with an outdoor side table bar
No one wants to keep rushing inside on a hot summer's day to get more ice and a plastic bin filled with cold water just doesn't quite cut it. Luckily, you can buy a stylish multitasker that doubles as a table and ice bucket. You can get one with a handy removable tray for storing all your bar essentials and another with handles that makes an excellent ice bucket, ready to fill up with cold drinks.
How do I build a small garden bar?
One of the easiest ways to build garden bar ideas into your home is to create a folding down option attached to a wall. Learning how to make your own DIY pallet bar is simpler than you think. For the simplest version, all you really need is some basic DIY skills, a couple of pallets and a length of chain. Alternatively, use pallets to create a full size bar you can stand at and socialise around.
What should I put in my garden bar?
Whatever type of garden bar ideas you're opting for, there a few things you should always try and incorporate. Melamine or plastic glasses and bowls for smash-proof food and drink vessels. Napkins are always useful, as you'll want to mop up any spills which might happen on your composite decking ideas. We always like adding outdoor lighting, ether permanent solutions or pretty and atmospheric festoon lights. For comfort, cushions and blankets are great to have on hand for when the sun goes down.
Thanks to the entrants of Liberty Games 'The UK’s Best Home Bar Competition (opens in new tab)' for sharing their inspirational bars.
Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.
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