There are few things more enjoyable in life than a cold cocktail at the end of a long day. But why should you have to get dressed and hit up a swanky bar, where you’ll have to shell out lots of cash to enjoy a watered down beverage in a loud and obnoxious setting? Bring the bar to you! Whatever your budget, we’ve got the basics for an at-home bar that will have your friends and neighbors wondering how to get on your guest list.
The best part of setting up a bar in your home is the ability to create any kind of ambience to enjoy a drink. Have a finished basement? Easily set up a full bar complete with stylish bistro or pub style sets for sitting and casual eating. Live in a warm environment? Make your patio party-central with an outdoor bar and casual lounge seating. If you don’t have the space for a dedicated bar, you can easily and affordably add a modern bar-style table top or mini bar to a living or dining space. To seamlessly add a beverage station to an already furnished space, shop for bar units that match your existing decor and stick to the wall (you won’t get the effect of looking like a bartender prepping drinks from behind it, but it’ll save you space!). For a more low-key option, consider an expandable bar counter unit that looks like a storage cabinet, allowing you to keep bar wares out of sight.
Your cocktails are only as classy as the glassware in which they’re served. Stock up on basic glassware including the essentials for a home bar. Cover your bases with a basic cocktail glass for your martinis and margaritas, an Old Fashioned or rocks glass for drinks on the rocks and neat whiskeys, a highball or Collins glass (depending on your style preference as they’re both essentially higher-volume glasses with subtle stylistic differences) for a variety of mixed drinks like Mojitos or Long Island Iced Teas, a versatile coupe glass for champagne, bubbly wines, and frozen cocktails, and a snifter for brandy and cognac. Of course you should substitute glasses you’ll use more frequently if you’re not much of a brandy aficionado, but these are great starters that will lend your bar an elegant air even they’re just on display.
Complete the look of your bar with trendy barware accessories from the fun to the functional. Cocktail shakers, muddlers, jiggers, ice scoopers/tongs, drink pourers, corkscrews, and bar spoons are the basic accessories in a bartender’s arsenal. Some items, like bottle openers, ice buckets and wine stoppers are available in elaborate or fun designs that double as design elements, adding to the aesthetics of your bar.
Probably the most essential item in your bar: alcohol. Stock up on basic bar foods and snacks, along with limes, lemons, bitters, and garnishes to make your drinks look as delicious as they taste. When it comes to stocking your bar, start with spirits you personally enjoy and will actually drink; save the fancy stuff for impressing your guests when you throw a party. Which brings us to the final essential for a home bar, arguably the most important: knowing how to make a drink. Your beautiful bar is useless if you can’t mix a proper cocktail! Brush up on these 25 must-know recipes for popular cocktails like Cosmos, Manhattans, and Old Fashioned’s.