Last Updated: August 27, 2021

What Is a Cocktail Pool? Designs, Size & Cost

Written By: Pool Care Guide

A cocktail pool is a type of pool that is essentially a scaled-down version of a larger pool. Cocktail pools lend themselves to entertaining, hence the name. 

They’re smaller than a standard swimming pool, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less enjoyable. For some homeowners, a cocktail pool is an ideal addition to their backyard. 

Cocktail Pool Designs 

While a typical cocktail pool is small, they aren’t just a miniaturized version of a larger pool. Cocktail pools are a different sort of backyard attraction. They can be ideal for a smaller yard that can’t accommodate a larger design. But they aren’t just for small yards. 

Instead of offering a huge swimming area, diving board, and a deep end, cocktail pools target different aspects of recreation. They occupy a unique niche of the swimming pool world that is more suitable for entertaining adult guests or relaxing with an umbrella drink than a larger pool. 

Cocktail pools can be round, oval, or rectangular. They can be constructed above-ground or inground from concrete, fiberglass, or with a vinyl liner. As a homeowner, it’s up to you to decide what shape you want and what construction methods to use. But, to make the most of a cocktail pool design, you need to understand its limitations, your budget, and how you want to use it. 

Cocktail pools lack the capacity to host a swimming party, big floats, and diving. But most designs offer bench seating along the walls so you can relax in the water while seated. The pool floor isn’t usually very deep, so when you stand up, you can walk around without going underwater. 

This sort of design is perfect for entertaining adult guests who might prefer to sip a cocktail, chat, and munch on canapes rather than diving, swimming, and splashing. 

And, if you want to enjoy the relaxation of a cocktail pool and still enjoy big pool features, it is easy to add them. To help you get the most out of your cocktail pool, consider incorporating lighting, spa-type jets, a heater, water features, and even a swimming machine into your design.

Average Size & Dimensions

If you ask a pool builder for the standard dimensions of a cocktail pool, you’re likely to get a range of answers. Round cocktail pools can range from ten feet in diameter to a little bit under twenty. Rectangular cocktail pools are usually no smaller than eight feet by ten feet, and the largest you might see are probably about twelve feet by fourteen feet. 

Square pools start as small as eight by eight and can be up to fifteen by fifteen. If you are building anything much more extensive, you’re talking about a full-size swimming pool. 

Cocktail pools are made for standing and sitting, much more so than diving or underwater swimming when it comes to depth. And since most cocktail pools offer in-water seating, the interior room of the pool is generally limited. 

The smaller dimensions of a cocktail pool make it an ideal choice for a small backyard. And, they are also small enough that some homeowners decide to enclose them or even build them indoors for year-round entertaining and fun. 

Your cocktail pool can be pretty much whatever size you want it to be. But the larger it gets, the more it may feel limited. For instance, if you build a four feet deep pool that is 20 feet long and thirty-two feet wide, you may regret not adding a deep end for diving. 

The dimensions of a cocktail pool tend to limit them to a specific style of recreation. 

Estimated Costs

Constructing a simple, standalone cocktail pool above-ground can be pretty inexpensive. But, most cocktail pools are a little bit fancier and installed inground, so you don’t have to climb up a ladder to enter the water. 

Just like a full-size swimming pool, a cocktail pool made with a vinyl liner is the least expensive option. Concrete pools are the most expensive version of inground pool constructions, but they are also the most durable. You should expect to pay about $25,000 for a small vinyl cocktail pool. 

A larger concrete cocktail pool with a heater, spa features, built-in lighting, and other amenities can easily cost more than $50,000. The cost of a fiberglass pool, which is cast in a manufacturing facility and delivered to your home for installation, is somewhere between the concrete and vinyl options in terms of pricing. 

As the price of your build goes up, you may start asking yourself if it is advisable to limit the construction to a cocktail design. Sometimes, it may be more advisable to install a larger swimming pool with more swimming space and simply add on an integrated spa to enjoy cocktails. 

This approach offers you the best of both worlds. Many designs allow you to mix the water from your spa and pool together, so you don’t necessarily have to use your spa as a hot tub. It can offer a cool respite from summer heat too. 

The biggest thing to remember about constructing any pool is that the best design is the one that works for you, your budget, and your backyard. So, let’s think about when a cocktail pool is the best choice. 

If you simply don’t have space for a large pool, you can install a smaller one. But, if swimming underwater is your favorite hot-weather activity, a cocktail pool might not be suitable for you. One option is to install a ‘plunge pool’ that offers a similarly small footprint but is significantly deeper, so you can plunge into it. 

If you’re not a big underwater swimmer, and you’d rather sit on a built-in ledge and relax in the water while you smoke a cigar and read a magazine, a cocktail pool is perfect. 

And, if you make it a little bit larger, you can still swim a bit. You also have the option of installing a swimming machine. These machines create a current of resistance in the water, allowing you to swim while the current holds you stationary in the middle of your pool. 

The current’s force and speed are tunable, so it can accommodate different strokes and different swimmers who may need more or less resistance. 

This sort of feature can bring the feel of a big pool to your smaller design. There are also quite a few features and techniques for making a cocktail pool into more than just a place to cool off.

Cocktail Pool Additional Features 

Anytime you talk about building a pool, you need to approach your project with a comprehensive view. If you focus too much on just the pool, you’re going to forget about the features that can bring your pool to life. 

Landscaping

Cocktail pools might be limited in size and scale, but they don’t have to be just a tiny swimming hole stuck in the middle of your yard. Consider adding some landscaping that screens the pool off from the rest of your space for privacy. Incorporate an arbor, trellises, or even a pergola to enhance the mood. 

Imagine walking towards a series of bushes, passing between them, and stepping into your own personal lagoon with total privacy. Use your imagination to turn your cocktail pool into an oasis!

Bar and Kitchen

If your pool isn’t right outside your door, it is pretty practical to add some amenities that will keep you near the water instead of trudging back and forth to the house for refills or more ice. 

Consider building and stocking a small bar with seating and extra supplies right near your cocktail pool. You can even add an outdoor kitchen with running water, a refrigerator, and an ice maker if your budget allows. 

Firepit

Adding a fire pit to your yard near a cocktail pool is almost a no-brainer. Both cocktail pools and firepits offer similar types of entertainment. Soak and lounge in the water during the day, step out and dry off by the fire in the evening. 

The ambiance is similar and sophisticated. So the same audience will enjoy the appeal of both.

Fountains

Cocktail pools sometimes suffer from a lack of a fun factor. Children, in particular, may get tired of a relatively small swimming area that doesn’t lend itself to games and play. But it is very easy to add a water feature, like a fountain, sprinkler, or waterfall to any size swimming pool. 

The running water makes things a bit more dynamic and can also be an effective way of keeping the pool cool in hot weather. 

Bottom Line

A cocktail pool is ideal for outdoor living, not necessarily outdoor playing. Adults will likely have more interest than kids in sitting down and relaxing, while children might get bored pretty quickly without the ability to dive, run, and splash in a bigger and deeper pool. 

Depending on the scale of your design, a cocktail pool can also be quite expensive. 


So, before you decide to build one, it’s a good idea to think long and hard about how you plan to use it and who will enjoy it with you. That’s the only way to determine if a cocktail pool is right for you.

Once installed, it’s complicated to make dimensional changes to a swimming pool!

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