If you’re a cocktail enthusiast or just a casual spirits’ fan, a dignified home bar setup is a must do for any homeowner. A home bar can tie together any home entertainment space for socializing and relaxing. Even if you don’t drink or just aren’t too keen on imbibing on the regular, a home bar setup is essential.
Mixologist newbies and seasoned cocktail mixers can agree: a home bar is just as cheeky and playful as it is functional and efficient. With a home bar, non-drinkers can whip up fun and fizzy mocktails or craft liquor-based drinks for guests in a snap. The home bar can be a room’s focal point, or even a cozy hangout. Having much-needed cocktail tools and kit on hand makes home entertaining a breeze, but the home bar will truly transform and elevate a living space.
So, how can any homeowner craft a top-notch home bar for a truly inspiring entertainment zone? To start, follow the checklist below to set up a base for a uniquely yours home bar space.
Once you square away the details below, browse our accessory and home bar guide for ideas that will make a strong case for home entertaining all year round.
Home Bar Checklist:
- Determine the allotted space and size for the home bar
- Note the type of natural lighting in the space
- Keep a short list of home bar accessories you’ll need
- Research classic and popular spirits to have on hand
- Learn different types of glassware for cocktails and drinks
- Account for any mocktail mixers, garnishes, and bitters
- Be mindful of style and decor for area staging (rugs, plants, art)
Home Bar Spirits, Tools, and Accessories
As you start to plan your home bar, it’s important to be aware of different types of spirits, glassware, and other major tools to make the area sing. When dining and drinking in your favorite places, you might notice bars that have every conceivable mixology tool, glass, and garnish under the sun. Don’t get overwhelmed by this notion; some of the best home bars are small, simple, and classic. A dynamic home bar doesn’t thrive on product gimmicks or fancy gadgets.
But what do you need to know before getting started? Let’s begin with spirits. Having a few classic spirits on hand will be the ultimate sturdy foundation for a timeless home bar. No homeowner needs to get bogged down with endless liquors or cognacs. A few classic and timeless spirits are more than enough to get you started, so consider whisky (bourbon or scotch), gin, tequila, mezcal, and rum (white or dark).
Now, what are some basic and popular tools of the trade? Cocktail shakers, jiggers, straws, and barspoons may be the first elements that come to mind. But don’t forget that glassware is just as essential. Each drink should be served in its recommended glass style such as a martini, rocks or whisky glass, highball, or a flute.
Next, you’ll want to add in mixers and garnishes to the home bar. Again, don’t feel pressure to go big so quickly. Start simple, and tack on more mixers as you create drinks. Not sure what to stock in your new home bar? Keep it simple. Just add soda water and fresh squeezed juice. With those two products, you can concoct a bevy of classic and new cocktails. Remember to stay well stocked with must-have garnishes like cocktail bitters, lemon or lime juice, and oranges for zest.
Finally, all homeowners should consider the lighting and décor in and around the bar area for aesthetically harmonizing purposes. Wall art, greenery, art objects, textured rugs, and glassware all add to the overall look and feel of the home bar atmosphere. With this in mind, thoughtful design additions are a seamless way to express your personal style.
Home Bar Ideas
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at five ideas on how you can improve your home bar setup.
1. The Bar Tray
Short on ample space for a home bar? Small space homeowners or non-drinkers will dig a stellar and classic bar tray. You don’t need to carve out additional space for a bar tray, instead revamp an already existing surface on a credenza, bookcase, or table. Add in a simple tray and stage the area with art such as prints on the wall, a novelty lamp, and vases or jugs next to the tray.
2. The Bar Console
Perhaps you have a bit more free space and some statement furniture to show off, as well. A sturdy vintage credenza is a superb center point for spirits and cocktail activity. Homeowners can add shelving and trays to an already existing credenza to make the utmost personalized bar space. Also, credenzas come in handy with added storage. Take advantage of extra shelving and cubbies to store bar accessories and supplies.
3. The Wet Bar
If you are set on renovation and redesign, consider building out a brand new wet bar for a fully customized bar space experience. A wet bar is the ideal set up for mega cocktail aficionados. Add in a sink, chic subway tile, cabinets, shelving, and lights and enjoy an instant party in just one pour.
4. The Bar Cart
The Bar Cart is a timeless yet versatile home bar offering, as it is portable and will keep you organized. A bar cart is highly efficient and also packs a lot in very little space. And this unit can keep cocktail lovers of different flavors quite happy with compartments for supplies, mixers, and even wine bottles. So keep the fashionable piece organized with spirits, mixers, and glassware.
5. The Built-in Bar
For homeowners who outgrew bar carts but aren’t ready for an entire wet bar outfit, opt for the built-in. This type of bar can require some renovation, but look no further than any unused nook for the optimal entertainment space. This previously empty nook will soon be a hub of lively activity with bar storage space, lighting, shelves, cabinets, but without the maintenance of a wet bar. The built-in bar is like another artfully designed piece of furniture.
Stephanie Valente is a Content Director and Editor in Brooklyn, NY. She’s previously held writing and social media positions at Barkbox, Men’s Journal, and currently works at a full-service advertising agency. She’s a self-confessed home and design enthusiast. Stephanie is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. When she’s offline, you can find her taking a yoga class, running, hanging out with her rescue dog Pepper. Find her on stephanievalente.com.