Home Bar Setup
It’s easy to reach a zen-like trance when you have a truly tasty drink in your hand. The feeling is further amplified when you’re in the comfort of your own home, surrounded by friends and family members, and not shelling out $10 per cocktail. Sadly, the prospect of setting up a home bar is daunting to many aspiring home drinkers. For help setting up and stocking a home bar, we’ve turned to Tim Heuisler, former bar manager and current general manager of Time, a bar/restaurant/club/music venue in Philadelphia, PA. As it turns out, setting up a home bar really isn’t that hard.
Home Bar Setup
You don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount to get your home bar up and running. A lot of common kitchen tools you already own can be used to make the perfect cocktails, and if you just stick to a few fundamental ingredients, you’ll be mixing drinks in no time.And no, you don’t really need to spend on top shelf liquor, especially with mixed drinks. Just stick to what you like and stock your bar with the booze that you’ll actually use.The Five Home Bar Essentials That Can Make Nearly Any Drink (and How to Get Them for Cheap)The Five Home Bar Essentials That Can Make Nearly Any Drink (and How to Get Them for Cheap)The Five Home Bar Essentials That Can Make Nearly…Amazon announced their online marketplace for wine yesterday. That's great, but there's…Read more Read more
Home Bar Setup
A proper home bar is one thing every grown-up home should have — even if you don’t drink, you should always have something on-hand to offer your guests. Whether you’re just beginning to make cocktails and appreciate spirits, or you’ve been mixing for years, this guide will help you set up a home bar that not only has all the essential tools you need, but is also beautiful and inspires you to try new things. First, we’re guiding you through where and how actually arrange your bar, and then we’ll show you all the must-have essentials, including specific bitters, bar tools, must-read cocktail books, spirits, glassware, mixers, and garnishes. Whether you have room for a single tray or a full built-in wet bar, you’ll find that setting one up isn't as daunting as it may seem.
Home Bar Setup
Home Bar Rule #1: Pick alcohol you actually enjoy imbibing. When I first started my own home bar, I only picked spirits that I thought would impress guests when I had them over. I ended up spending a fortune for alcohol that I hardly ever used. While you’ll use your home bar for entertaining, don’t forget that a home bar’s main customer is you. When you mix yourself a cocktail to sip on the weekends while you sit on the patio with your dog, you want to enjoy it. The dog doesn’t care what your favorite gin is. That is of course if this pooch isn’t your dog. He’s so smug.
Home Bar Setup
Remember Home Bar Rule #2: Start small. If you don’t have room or any place to store your home bar, keep your home bar small. Pick two or three different liquors and stick with those. When I was in an apartment, I kept my small bar in a cabinet above the fridge, and I kept my mixers and garnishes in the fridge.
Home Bar Setup
If you do move into a bigger place and you’ve really enjoyed being a home mixologist, then I can’t recommend installing a permanent home bar in your home enough. Many homes today come with wet bars and storage space for a home bar. If you don’t have that, with a little initiative and sweat, you can install your own bar in an unused room in the house.
If you’d like something a bit more distinguished than your kitchen cabinet to serve as the home for your home bar, consider getting a cocktail cabinet or mini bar. They’re small pieces of handsome furniture that you can usually put up against the wall. They’re nice because they can serve as a gathering point without having a huge bar installed in your home. Cocktail cabinets take up very little space, but can hold quite a bit of alcohol and glassware. I have friend who picked up a vintage cocktail cabinet at the antique store. It was a bit rough, but with a bit of elbow grease he was able to spruce it up. Here’s a nice example of a retro cocktail cabinet from the 50s:
Don’t let this list intimidate you. Instead, do your best and think of your home bar as a work in progress. No man goes to the hardware store and buys $10,000 worth of tools at once; rather, he collects the tools in his garage over time. Consider taking the same approach with your home bar. Start out simple, then slowly increase your collection of spirits, liqueurs, and equipment. After a while, you’ll have a formidable bar that will make your place a top hangout spot.
First, we’re guiding you through where and how actually arrange your bar, and then we’ll show you all the must-have essentials, including specific bitters, bar tools, must-read cocktail books, spirits, glassware, mixers, and garnishes. Whether you have room for a single tray or a full built-in wet bar, you’ll find that setting one up isn't as daunting as it may seem.
There’s no denying that bar carts are one of the hottest furnishings around — we blame Don Draper for making them trendy again. If you have the space for it, bar carts make a great dedicated area for mixing a drink, and they’re welcoming, too, so guests can feel comfortable walking up and making their own. If your bar cart is open, be mindful of organizing it neatly. You may even want to store your less frequently used items in a pantry, so it doesn’t look too cluttered or messy.
Bar Spoon: If you’re not shaking a cocktail, you have to make sure it’s properly stirred. Generally speaking, a typical spoon won’t cut it for a tall cocktail, which is why it’s a good idea to have a long bar spoon. That said, you can probably do without a bar spoon if James Bond is your roommate.
We always have lemons and limes in the kitchen, as they're essential to many great and favorite recipes. Sugar cubes, or fine white sugar, is also a must for every home bar. It's also great to have a basil plant and a mint plant in the house, so you can make herbal cocktails at the ready. Other herbs like sage and thyme are also wonderful garnishes. If you like martinis or Bloody Marys, cocktail olives, onions, horseradish, salt, pepper, and hot sauce can also be essential. Once you've stocked bar, shake or stir up some of our favorite cocktail recipes.
Glassware: When you’re first starting your home bar, you probably don’t need to invest in a dozen of each type of cocktail glass. However, it’s fun to collect handsome and/or funky glassware. “One of my favorite things is having nice glassware,” says Heuisler. “That’s what I have at my house. I can make a drink pretty easily, but it’s nice to have a proper glass for it. It can make you seem like you might actually be sitting at a bar, and not someone’s kitchen.”
9 of 9 The Nonalcoholic Bar No one should be punished for passing up a cocktail, but if plain soda and canned juice are the only alternatives, an abstainer is likely to wind up pouting in the corner. Fortunately, there are enough flavorful nonalcoholic beverages to fill an entire bar and bring cheer to the soberest of souls. Mix fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice with a splash of seltzer to make a light cocktail. Also try sweetened, diluted lime and lemon juice served over crushed ice, or whip fresh or frozen berries in a blender with ice and a dash of lime. Get our Nonalcoholic Drink Recipes
There’s no denying that bar carts are one of the hottest furnishings around — we blame Don Draper for making them trendy again. If you have the space for it, bar carts make a great dedicated area for mixing a drink, and they’re welcoming, too, so guests can feel comfortable walking up and making their own.
Bitters are a type of high-proof alcohol infused with herbs, roots, and spices that’s used in dashes as a botanical additive to drinks. A cocktail renaissance has swept the nation, and gone are the days when one lonely bitters bottle held court behind the bar. These days, you can find everything from rhubarb bitters to coffee bitters in your local liquor store. While we certainly suggest experimenting with these unique flavors, we highly recommend stocking your bar with three specific types which are commonly used in classic cocktails. Keep scrolling to learn more about them.