There are certain steps to take when setting up a home bar. You can check out our guide here for some important things to do.
Straight up, on the rocks, or with a twist, everyone has their usual drink. Imagine a Friday night with your friends at your home bar, laughing, and enjoying a signature cocktail from your own kitchen.
This kind of entertainment space is a sophisticated yet comfortable place for your friends and family to enjoy each other’s company. Yet getting started can feel overwhelming. Here’s how to create the perfect bar, starting from scratch.
Make It Usable
The most important thing about your home bar is that it functions well. To create a usable space, first decide where to put your bar. A kitchen island is a logical choice because of the heavy traffic.
Yet a basement entertaining area is another good choice. It depends whether you’re going for a coffee bar, a breakfast bar, or a traditional bar stocked with alcohol of your choice. It must be a space that’s practical and easy to access.
For smaller spaces, create a smaller bar area. While a long bar with stools may not fit in your apartment, a tiny cart with a few glasses and an ice bucket would do well and add a classy vibe.
Leave a place on the cart’s top shelf for a couple of bottles of wine or a pitcher of cocktails. Make a signature drink for the evening to pour for your guests. Don’t forget the dish of garnishes, like olives for martinis or limes for margaritas.
However you set it up, your bar area has to be usable or it won’t do you any good at all. Looking at a pretty setup doesn’t quench your thirst, so be practical with your decisions.
Sink and Kitchen Facilities
An important part of setting up a bar is the sink space. If you’re installing a larger bar, it’s really handy to have a bar sink where you can pour out liquids or wash glasses. Anywhere you have liquid you’ll have the potential for spills, and a sink is a good fail-safe to help you avoid accidents like that.
There are plenty of sink choices to go with your style. Choose a narrow sink to fit on the bar itself, or go with a deeper basin for a sink on the side. Examine your entertaining goals and decide which sink will work best for your future events.
Alcohol and Glassware Storage
Many traditional bars have a mirror and shelves at the back, where guests sitting on your bar stools can see the options for their drinks and make a selection. Use these shelves to display your impressive collection of tequila from your travels all over the world.
Instead you could put out only the bar essentials to make it easy for guests to order a drink.
Basic alcohol essentials start with a good whiskey (rye or bourbon) and a dry gin. Add a dry and a sweet vermouth and Campari, and you’ll be able to make the basics, like a G & T, a martini, and a Manhattan. As you expand, add a few bottles of rum and some tequila, and you’ll have even more options for your guests.
Some bartenders choose to display their glassware as well. If you’re excited about the highballs and wine glasses you’re choosing for your bar, you may want to make sure there’s space to display them. Hanging wine glasses by the stem is one option, or simply storing them on one of the shelves under the alcohol is another.
Others keep the beer glasses and highballs in the freezer, so you can serve guests a frosty glass. Still other traditional storage is under the bar itself.
Plan out the space under the bar carefully. If you’re a wine drinker, you may want to install a wine cooler. This and your sink may take up most of the under-bar space, so you’ll have to make room in your design for the shelves.
Choose a Theme
You may want to decorate with a theme, like a Margaritaville tropical decor or a Nascar theme. You could look for a bar starter kit in the theme of your choice or look for signs and decor items on your own to customize them. Here are some other theme ideas:
- Tiki bar/beach
- A favorite band (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis, Lynyrd Skynyrd)
- football team
- Harley Davidson
- Irish/English/pub and tavern theme
If your entertainment space is farmhouse chic, then an old window and a “Family” or “Gather” sign would help your bar complete the look.
An industrial space is great for recycling or upcycling. Use old pallets to craft your bar stools, and install iron pipe details.
Other Essentials of a Home Bar
As you’re considering how to set up a bar, it’s handy to have some tools. You’ll want shakers, a jigger, a bar spoon, muddlers, strainers, and ice cube trays for sure.
There are lots of non-essential gadgets for special drinks, but don’t worry too much about those. You don’t need them to get started.
Consider adding a few bar guides to your shelf. These are for a handy reference if someone asks for a drink you don’t know. You can also use them to plan special cocktail recipes for a party or dinner.
A Welcoming Space
From its usability to the bar guides you choose, a home bar is a place where your guests can relax and feel comfortable. Use the tips above, like adding a sink and choosing a theme, to help you create a great entertainment area where people will want to hang out and enjoy themselves.
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