A home bar is becoming a bit of a fixture in many homes, with lots of drink enthusiasts setting up amazing bars for parties and entertaining. If you want to step up your bar and drinks-making game, follow this guide and wow your friends.
Whether you choose to set up an actual bar or go for a smaller bar cart or bar area on top of a cabinet, you’ll need a clear space for making drinks and some storage space to store spirits and other drink-making tools. A vintage drinks cabinet could be a great feature if you have a more retro-styled home, or choose a slick, modern bar cart for a more modern home. A bar cart on wheels could be a good option for entertaining, as you can wheel the cart to wherever your guests are hanging out, like the lounge or dining room. If you’re a beer drinker, consider adding a mini-fridge to your bar area. If you’re a wine fan, cool your wines with a wine fridge tucked under the bar.
To start, buy spirits you enjoy drinking. Buying your favorites is a good start, as they’ll actually get drunk and not just take up space in the cabinet. If you’re going to be making cocktails, invest in good quality basics, like vodka, whiskey, gin, and rum. If you regularly host the same friends, buy in some of their favorites too. Learn some classic cocktail recipes to show off when you have visitors around.
Once you’ve got spirits, you’re going to need mixers. As with the spirits, start by buying things you like. Fruit juices, coke, lemonade, and tonic water are an excellent place to start. Later on, you can add more unusual options like ginger ale or flavored tonics. If you like more extravagant drinks, keep some garnishes in. Things like fruit or herbs can be frozen in ice cube trays so you can add them to drinks with ice and always have garnishes on hand, without fruit going off in the fridge. Bitters are a good thing to have on hand for cocktails too, as are some simple syrups.
Start with some essential bar tools. For cocktails, you’ll need a good-sized shaker and a muddler. Keep a sharp knife and cutting board on hand for preparing garnishes. Buy a jigger for measuring drinks, and some glass bottles for storing syrups you’ve made. Don’t forget bar basics like a bottle opener and a corkscrew. Later on, you could add some more specialist tools, depending on what you like to drink. A blender can be fun for making slush based cocktails. For wine lovers, an electric corkscrew or red wine aerator could be useful additions to upgrade your bar.
You’ll need some glasses to put your drinks in. Start with the basics and buy beautiful glasses that work well with the drinks you have most often. A good set of beginning glasses would include pint glasses, glasses for red and white wine, and some lowball glasses for spirits. Later on, you can add coup glasses for fizz, martini glasses for cocktails and highball glasses for spirits and mixers. If you love cocktails served in a more quirky way, you could buy some copper mugs for mules. For parties, some pitchers or a punch bowl could be a fun purchase too.
When you’re hosting friends for drinks, don’t be afraid to ask your friends to contribute. Small expenses of bar supplies can soon add up, and your friends won’t mind being asked to pick some ice or some limes on their way over. If you’re usually the one hosting, you can save some money this way but not look cheap, especially once you’ve shown off your cocktail skills.
Once your bar is set up, you can start to have some with it. If you love to travel, why not collect some unusual spirits or wines from the places you visit. Collecting items like beer mats from different bars you go to could be a fun souvenir collection to display on the bar.
Invest in some cocktail books so you can keep trying out new recipes. You could even take some cocktail making classes to boost your skills and learn some tricks.
Keep your bar looking its best by keeping it clean and uncluttered. Tidy up after any drink making session and wipe the bar top down. Keep your glasses clean too. The dishwasher can leave behind watermarks, so polish your glassware with a linen towel before you put them away to keep looking sparkling and beautiful.