Who doesn’t love cocktails and canapés? While it’s traditional to host a drinks reception where guests are served by waiters, you can also create a more relaxed atmosphere by setting up a table of drinks and nibbles so guests are free to help themselves. From classy cocktail parties in Westminster to pre-dinner events in Waterloo, a lively atmosphere and flowing drinks are the signs of a great get-together.
Popular drinks reception ideas:
- Drinks and dessert. Because who doesn’t love cake? Look out for some incredible combinations, such as champagne and berries or carrot cake with sherry.
- Seasonal drinks. Think about it - strawberry and basil margaritas for a spring drinks reception, and spiced red wine sangria for autumn or winter? It just makes sense!
- Sky-high food and wine pairing. Nothing makes food and drinks taste better than beautiful views from a London rooftop. You’ll have your co-workers feel like they’re on top of the world!
- Breakfast drinks. Anyone for champagne and croissants? A sip of wine or an aperitif will excite your palate for some delicious breakfast foods.
- Sunset river cruise. Blow your guests away with an unforgettable twilight cruise along the Thames! Here’s the list of boat venues available on Tagvenue if you want to check out central London from a completely new angle.
- Stylish summer party. Pair refreshing summer drinks with crowd-pleasing BBQ fare, like mini pulled pork sliders and glazed turkey meatballs. That’s a definite crowd-pleaser!
- Christmas cocktail party. If you’re looking to spark that Christmas cheer, serve some mulled wine, eggnog or punch in a festive Christmas venue in London.
- Garden party. Want to take a breath of fresh air? Treat your guests to vintage champagne cocktails, cupcakes presented on tiered stands and fun outdoor activities.
- Wine tasting. Why not hire a sommelier to guide the tasting or book an elegant wine bar for a private tasting session? Drinking wine is so much more interesting when you get to compare different flavours and get to know about the history of some of the most iconic wine varieties.
Drinks reception tips and tricks:
- Welcome guests with a signature drink (think Pimm’s in the summer months and hot apple ciders spiked with rum for chillier days)
- Provide plenty of water, soft drinks and juices for designated drivers and non-drinkers. You don't need alcohol to have a good time, after all.
- Get a venue with a nice atmosphere for chatting. Themed venues are the best for this!
- If you’re hosting a drinks reception outside, make a contingency plan for bad weather.
- Learn something about cocktails yourself! Mixology is a very interesting hobby and you could entertain your guests with info about the drinks you’re having.
Hosting a London drinks reception but haven’t found a venue yet? Whether you’re after a local hangout where everyone knows your name, a traditional British pub to knock back the perfect pint or an upmarket bar where you can live it up like an A-lister, we can point you in the right direction. What are you hosting and when? See how fast you can book one of London’s hottest drinks reception venues today.
Things to consider when hiring a drinks reception venue:
- Your budget - You have to know where you can splash out and where you can make some savings. Depending on what services you want to have covered, your hire costs will be a big part of your budget, so split it accordingly.
- Event date - When will your drinks reception take place? Most party venues are usually more available on weekdays, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re asking in advance. Remember to check if venue prices vary based on time - some venues have a larger hire fee for the evenings.
- Your guest list - Choose a venue that’s just the right size for the number of guests you anticipate. Getting this right will help create a buzzed and friendly atmosphere.
- Location and accessibility - Pick a location that’s easy for the guests to commute to by car or the tube. You should also check for things such as parking, elevators and access ramps.
- The atmosphere - Do you need a chic bar near Liverpool Street for a corporate drinks reception, or a casual rooftop space in Shoreditch for graduation drinks? Take advantage of a unique interior for a themed party or get a blank canvas space that you can decorate yourself.
- Terms and conditions - Some venues allow BYOB and charge a corkage fee, while others allow only drinks and food provided by the venue. Make sure you know everything you need to know before signing the agreement.
- The sound system - Prepare a playlist in advance and make sure the music’s not too loud on the day of the hire. You can also check the venue’s policy on loud music if you want to get a party going.
- Entertainment options - Don’t forget to speak to the venue manager about your plans, whether it’s hiring a band, doing some games or setting up a photo booth.
Drinks Reception Venues in London FAQ
What kind of venues are good for a drinks reception?
When hunting for a good venue consider an event space with enough room for the guests to circulate. Also, an open layout that will keep guests together in one area will facilitate a great event atmosphere. Check out some of our favourites:
- SAMA Bankside – A long-time London favourite, enjoy this quirky and industrial themed venue with its fantastic drinks.
- Bird of Smithfield – Plan your drinks reception in the City at this modern British restaurant in a stunning Georgian Townhouse.
- Clerkenwell and Social – A specialist in private hire, this venue features an eclectic design and literary theme.
How much does it cost to hire a venue for a drinks reception?
The average cost for minimum spend for a drinks reception will range from £250 to £500. You may encounter more expensive options as well, with minimum spend ranging from £800 to £2000 or more. Hire fee is the second most popular model for this type of event and venues are available for around £2000. (All data from Tagvenue.)
Will I be charged if I bring my own alcohol to a drinks reception?
Many venues able to host a drink reception will allow you to bring your own alcohol. Some venues will charge a corkage fee for BYOB. Make sure to check this detail with the venue manager and get all agreed terms and conditions in writing before you finalise your booking.
Should I hire a bartender separately?
This depends on the type of venue you’re dealing with. Typical cocktail bars will obviously include services of their mixologists, but some venues for weddings and other parties will have you hire a pro bartender separately.