Depends on the situation, I have friends that are sloppy drunks so I would go with a high end varnish. The positive it us nearly bullet proof. The negative is hard to work with, slow dry times and will fume up your house pretty good. Now if you have civilized friends any water based finish will suffice. I prefer Minwax poly acrylic, brush on 2 coats and rattle can your last coat. Start to finish in a couple hours can set things on there later in the day it dries so quick. Very little odor also. Good luck.
Thanks for the info! I'll probably end up using the water-based since my friends and I arent too sloppy. How about the bar top? I was thinking of using envirotex or something similar.