How to Make the Most of an Open Bar

There are two simple words in the English language that, when put together, create a musical ringing in our ears and make our hearts leap with joy: open bar. But it’s not all fun and games. As we all know, with the great power of the open bar comes great responsibility. With these six simple hacks, you’ll be sure to get the best bang for your buck (or lack of buck, that is):

Keep it simple

Ordering beer is generally a safe bet for any open-bar experience because you know exactly what you’re going to get. In terms of taste profile, alcohol percentage, and consistency, you’ll get exactly what that all-too-familiar label has delivered to you in the past. But the downfall is that most selections are pretty tame, sticking to big-branded, recognizable choices.

Avoid the wine

For the love of God, the worst possible choice you can make at an open bar is wine. First and foremost, you’re most likely going to get a generic, mass-produced wine that tastes like jammy vinegar. Aside from tasting bad, many mass-produced wines are ridden with chemicals and aren’t actually 100 percent grape-derived products. This might be the only circumstance in the history of man where we wholeheartedly advise you to: Skip. The. Wine.

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But if you REALLY need wine…

… then absolutely choose white over red. Most likely, those whites are soaking in a bath of ice, which is actually beneficial in this particular scenario. Chilling wines masks aromas and flaws, making the imperfections in cheap white wines more muted than those of their room-temperature red cousins.

Avoid cocktails (even simple ones)

There’s a time and a place for handcrafted cocktails: at cocktail bars. While we all love a good cocktail, an open bar is the last place to order one. The bartender will most likely not have all the proper ingredients, leading to processed mixer substitutions and sugar-ridden juices.

Well drinks are a safe bet

All hail the wealth of wells! Basic wells are easy to order, quick to make, and get the job done. Stick with traditional rum and (diet) cokes, gin and tonics, or vodka sodas for a safe haven at your open bar. Bonus: When choosing zero/low calorie mixers like diet cola and soda water, you’ll be getting the lowest calorie option available. And lastly:


At the open bar, you want the bartender on your side from the beginning. Leaving a hefty tip after your first drink is a surefire way to make sure he or she remembers your face — a prized commodity one hour into the event when the crowds begin fighting for their free refills. You won’t be surprised when they notice you first (and put a little extra rum in your well drink while they’re at it). Plus, even though you’re not paying for the drinks, they’re still working just as hard, and they deserve recognition for their work.