An a la carte bar refers to a bar set-up where patrons order and pay for individual drink orders rather than an open bar package covering a fixed-time unlimited drinking experience.
Key characteristics of an a la carte bar include:
Guests order one drink at a time from a mixologist or bartender.
Drinks are prepared on-demand and presented when ready.
Patrons pay only for each specific cocktail, beer, glass of wine, etc. they order.
Compared to open bars, allows for greater personal choice but no unlimited group drinking.
Often used at casual happy hours, weddings, corporate mixers when per-person volume is lower.
Requires settling separate drink checks per individual versus billing an event group as a whole.
May incentivize slower paced drinking over time versus front-loaded excess when open bar ends.
Allows control over spending by sticking to a limit versus open barʻs fixed fee regardless of intake.
So in essence, an a la carte bar operates on a pay-as-you-order basis providing customized drinks at an individualized rate rather than group packages covering unlimited drinks within constrained periods.
What Items Are Typically Available on the A la Carte Bar Menu?
Typical items available at an a la carte bar include:
- A range of beer on tap – lagers, ales, pilsners. Often both domestic and imported brands.
- Bottled beer selections – craft porters, stouts, ciders, non-alcoholic options.
- Red, white, sparkling wines available by the glass – pinot noir, chardonnay, cava, prosecco.
- Specialty cocktails – classic & innovative mixed drinks with fresh ingredients. Various spirits.
- Premium liquors – range of whiskeys, rums, vodkas, tequilas, gins that can be enjoyed straight up or on the rocks.
- Signature bar creations – unique infused concoctions, layered shots, punch bowls for groups to share.
- Soft drinks & water – coke, sprite, juices, club soda, tonic water and still/sparkling water.
- Bar snacks – olives, nuts, chips or customizable food menu depending on establishment.
- Nonalcoholic drinks – mocktails, coffees, smoothies, milkshakes can also be on the menu.
So an a la carte bar gives freedom to pick from a diverse drink selection with unique signatures beyond basic beer and wine. Paying individually allows sampling different items.