Tara Guérard in front of her Tradd Street home; her well-stocked vintage bar cart; photographs (2) by Peter Frank Edwards
December 28, 2016
Drinks on the House
Nationally renowned, Charleston-based entertainer Tara Guérard helps you build the best bar cart for your New Year’s Eve soirée
written by Melissa Bigner
Tara Guérard is known as one of the country’s top event maestros—her Tara Guérard Soirée has appeared on best planner lists from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Martha Stewart Weddings, and more. But here in Charleston, the mom of three is known as a fun-loving hostess who combines old-school Holy City etiquette with a vivacious personality and her own brand of covetable panache.
“A drink in hand makes a happy guest,” says Tara, who started off in the hospitality world ordering vino for a local restaurant before switching to an event-staffing position elsewhere. That mix—knowing what to serve and the ins-and-outs of service—is a hallmark of her seamless events. And as for food versus beverage? “I’m more worried about running out of drinks than food,” she says.
With that in mind, Tara shares a few suggestions for outfitting a fail-safe bar for your next fête:
Stock up. In cool weather, Tara suggests having more brown liquor on hand, while in the summer, clear liquor tends to be most popular. Add beer (regular and light varieties); white and red wines; champagne; mixers, soda, and sparkling water; ice in a bucket; shakers, a bottle opener, and a fine hand towel; cut lemons and limes; and nuts (pecans in winter and roasted or boiled peanuts in summer). “And don’t forget linen cocktail napkins!”
Keep things cozy. “Make sure there’s enough comfortable seating and surfaces to place drinks.”
Greet guests and offer them a drink as they enter. “I usually put my husband, Russell, on this,” Tara says. “Always get a beverage in their hands first, before food, before anything else. It doesn’t matter what it is—liquor, tea, seltzer—giving someone something to hold always makes them relax.”
Help them help themselves. Ask guests their drink preference, serve them the first one, then show them the bar so they can pour their own thereafter.
Know what your friends like. “I have a friend who only drinks tequila, another who prefers Bud Light, and a couple whose favorite champagne is Veuve Clicquot,” says Tara. When they come over and I offer them those; everyone feels a little special knowing their drinks are there. Everyone gets to feel the party is a little about them, which makes for comfortable, happy guests.”
Have a backup bar. “Have one bottle of each of the basics then backup seconds stashed away,” says Tara regarding smaller get-togethers.
Be mindful. Appoint a friend-bartender to keep an eye on the ice bucket and refill as needed. Same goes for lemons and limes.
Go for cute. Quaint mixer or seltzer bottles make a sea of liquor bottles look more personal, Tara says.
For more entertaining advice and tasty food tips from Guérard, click here.