Guide to the perfectly-stocked home bar
What is more sophisticated than a home bar? If James Bond spent less time in hotels, we are sure he would have one. His beverage collection would be large – with numerous bottles that you had neither seen, nor heard of previously (most likely sent back from his various missions). He would have an extensive range of cocktail shakers, to make sure that his favourite drink never needed to be stirred, and his collection of glasses would include every glass imaginable, stored in a cabinet that transforms into a spy equipment cupboard at the press of a button. But, even those of us who are not members of the secret service should be able to indulge in a smart bar in the comfort of our homes.
We’ve done our research and found out everything you could possibly need to create the perfectly-stocked bar at home, from choosing your bar, to glasses, to bar accessories and the drinks themselves. Make sure you get your bar in order before the party season truly begins, your guests will love you for it.
Raise the bar
First of all, where should you keep your home bar? If you are creating one that is portable then you don’t really need to think about this too carefully, but if you’re setting up your bar on a console table or a more sturdy piece of furniture then placement does need to be considered. Social areas where guests tend to congregate are best, such as entrance halls, sitting rooms, dining rooms or kitchens.
Now we come to the important matter of the bar itself – perhaps you already have one? Maybe you have a console or side table that is barely used that could be repurposed as a bar? If not, you have a whole host of options, such as:
A console table – if you can get one that has space for wine bottles beneath, that’s even better. Perfect for a sitting room or dining room.
A side table can make an excellent bar, just make sure it has a shelf, for storing glasses, bottles and barware. Due to the small size of a side table, it can be placed in any room that you would serve drinks in.
A Butler’s Tray works very well – choose one that has a tray with deep sides to stop the bottles and glasses from sliding off. Works well in any location that would benefit from a bar.
A drinks trolley is ideal as it can be moved from room to room, without fuss, whilst the party is in motion. This one is particularly fabulous, as its modern clear design can sit in virtually any setting.
If you don’t want your drinks to be on display, then perhaps a drinks cabinet would work better for you? Sits perfectly in a sitting room or dining room.
Heart of glass
There’s no use creating the perfect home bar if you don’t have any drinking glasses and it’s not about having just any old glass, you need the right glass for the right drink. If not, you might not be enjoying the full flavour that the drink is renowned for. If you need help, check our guide to drinking glasses.
It’s pretty easy to remember glasses and alcohol, but it’s the bar accessories that will be the difference between whether your guests can have their drinks shaken or stirred. Any barman will tell you that the real trick to a good cocktail is a cocktail shaker. It’s the most thorough way to completely integrate all of the drinks components. It’s particularly vital to shake your martinis and creamy drinks, such as Piña coladas. Plus, it looks really cool and could be considered a workout – goodbye bingo wings!
Bar accessories may begin with a cocktail shaker but that is most certainly not where they end. If you don’t want to ruin your surfaces with water rings, then coasters are your friends. Spirits are generally best served ice cold, so keep an ice bucket nearby. Don’t forget bottle openers ,corkscrews and bottle stoppers, to prevent your wine from spoiling.
Trays can be used either on your bar – to compartmentalise it – or to serve the drinks. Chopping boards and knives should be on hand to prep your garnishes, or else you can get them ready in advance and display them in pretty bowls or glass containers.
As you can’t have a home bar without the drinks, here are the basic tipples you need to stock your shelves with:
- Bubbles (chilling in an ice bucket, of course)
- Red Wine (and a couple of bottles of white in the fridge)
- A selection of classic spirits – vodka, gin, rum, whisky
- A liqueur for after-dinner
- Port (preferably with a cheese board nearby)
- Vermouth (for James Bond’s favourite, the martini)
- A ‘Wild Card’ Spirit (probably brought back from holiday)
Mixers and garnishes
- A selection of juices, such as cranberry, pineapple and orange
- Cordial, such as lime or elderflower
- Soda water
- Tonic (preferably in small bottles, so the tonic doesn’t go flat)
- Fruit, such as oranges, lemons and limes
- Maraschino cherries
Now you are ready to assemble your own bar at home, start inviting your guests and get the party started, or else, just reward yourself with a delicious cocktail.