Click to contact us

Let's Connect Looking to enliven your event experiences? You’re in the right place.

Contact DCi


theme may be woven throughout an entire event space, but the bars often serve as focal points — the gathering spots where guests bond over signature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, or tastings of everything from wine to mocktails. Thinking of adding a custom bar to your next event? Here, we’ll share some of the DCi design team’s favorite custom designs, as well as tips and tricks for creating visually stunning bars that will be the true centerpieces of your event.

Go Big or Go Home

A double-decker bar designed for an event in Marco Island, Florida, provided the perfect spot for guests to witness a Gulf Coast sunset as they sipped on their custom cocktails. This two-story custom bar, created to capitalize on the shipping container design trend, was rendered prior to the event and customized with branding, bamboo-covered tiki bars, and beachy, breezy colors that matched the larger event theme.

A Taste of Wine Country

This wispy, boho-style bar encouraged more than 4,000 guests at an event in Palm Springs, California, to experience Wine Country sip by sip. Decorative wine bottles added to the elegant atmosphere, along with candle-lit lanterns and tables made of wine barrels and wood. Bartenders served several varietals of wine beneath white lights that provided a gentle, post-sunset glow.

Road Trip

How do you see the entire state of California without walking more than a mile? With a weeklong food and drink court that reflected 15 of the state’s CVBs. Designed for a tourism trade show that hosted more than 6,200 U.S. and international guests, DCi partnered with each city to create bars that reflected their vibe, messaging, and local food staples. Think: a custom taco cart for San Diego, a chalkboard bar for Sacramento featuring a local artist, and a bubble bar tap trailer for Santa Barbara pouring local wines from taps.

Tap Trucks

A stunning bar doesn’t always have to be built from scratch. As an alternative (if the venue allows), you can opt to bring in a tap truck or mobile bar that combines entertainment, visual appeal, and flexibility. For an event at the Lodge at Torrey Pines in California, we included a vintage three-wheeled truck that allowed guests to enjoy adult beverages from four customizable taps. There’s something about the novelty of food and beverage trucks that guests love, and mobile services can serve as a cost-effective way to customize your food and beverage service to match your theme.

5 Tips and Tricks for Designing a Show-Stopping Custom Bar

Every event needs beverages, whether they’re alcoholic or not, which means that your bars are an important point of contact. It’s essential to make them special and memorable — something your guests will want to post on social media. We put together our best strategies for creating a bar that will set the standard for your future events, from basic to elaborate (and then some).

  • If your budget is tight, one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to leave an impact is to create a custom graphic for the front of your bar. You can use branding, iconography that infuses the overall theme, or a combination of both — along with your brand colors — to make the area stand out. 
  • Another cost-effective idea: Ask the venue if they would allow you to add a custom graphic to their in-house bar unit. Many locations already have this feature in place, but if not, you can dress it up with candles, florals, or smaller versions of your table centerpieces to make it flow with the larger theme.
  • Don’t forget your back bar unit — it’s an opportunity for design, too! Custom shelving or walls can not only create a defined space, but also give your bartenders plenty of room to keep glasses, bottles, and other essentials.
  • For a more elaborate build, create a custom pergola, canopy, or similar structure that draws attention from a distance and anchors your overall design and theme.
  • Design your custom bar with the flexibility to work both inside and out. Consider materials for outdoor structures that will withstand the elements, as well as size restrictions for indoor elements. Remember that weather can send an outside event inside at the last minute, so a structure that works well in both situations is ideal.

6 Tried-and-True Custom Bar Best Practices

You may be thinking that building a custom bar is a big task — and if your setup is elaborate enough, you’re right. Logistics are important when you’re creating your event space, and the details matter. Based on our years of experience (and trials and errors), here’s our list of best practices and watch-outs for crafting large, custom pieces for your event:

  • First and foremost, it’s essential to know how many guests you’re expecting and what space you have to work with. Do your homework and estimate your catering needs before you begin designing so you can make the most of your event layout.
  • If you’re creating a container unit that will be located on a beach, it’s important to make sure that you have a forklift that’s made to drive on sand — no matter how compacted it is — or have plates you can lay down to create a path. In addition, be diligent in scheduling other vendors so that you can load in the container with minimal interference.
  • For indoor venues, double-check ceiling and doorway height measurements to make sure you have enough room to move large elements in. In addition, survey the space in advance and take note of any columns or other obstacles.
  • Display your menus clearly and make ordering as easy as possible. Consider including QR codes that link to digital versions for guests to read while they’re in line. And don’t forget to extend your theme to your menu design.
  • That said, maximize your points of service as much as possible to avoid long lines. A bar or food station can look amazing, but guests won’t ooh and ahh over your blockbuster design if they’re agitated over the lack of service. 
  • Happy bartenders equal happy guests, so make sure your serving staff has everything they need, including enough space, and add designs and extras in a way that won’t interfere with their work.

We hope that these ideas have inspired you to let us create a custom bar for your next event that will leave lasting memories for your guests. If so, reach out to our team to get the ball rolling. 

Other Posts You Might Like
Dec 27
Destination Management
2023 Wrapped: DCi’s Top Event Highlights From This Year
Dec 20
Event Design & Production
Big Event, Small Event: Advantages, Drawbacks and Challenges.
Oct 26
Destination Management
A Day in the Life of a DCi Event Planner

Re-invigorating your inbox starts here.