Once a staple of the American household, the home bar has made a comeback, thanks in no small part to the influence of shows like Mad Men. Whether you create a dedicated bar space in your basement or family room, light the tiki torches on an outdoor bar, or just have a small bar cart in the corner, there are a few basics that you need, after that, it’s all about personal preference and style.
First, decide what kind of bar set up you’re creating. Will it be a cabinet in your kitchen and a stylish tray, or will it be a dedicated space? How many people will you entertain at one time? Once you’ve got those things down, it’s time to start outfitting your bar.
You need a place to store liquor that’s away from direct sunlight and not near a heat source. If your bar is far away from the kitchen and you will entertain often, consider a small refrigerator as well. Here’s where it starts getting personal. How much prep will you do in the kitchen versus at the bar? If you’ll be doing all your slicing and dicing ahead of time in the kitchen, there is no need to have a knife and cutting board in the bar.
- Ice bucket and tongs
- Long-handled stir spoon
- Citrus reamer
- Cocktail shaker
- Paring knife
- Small cutting board
- Bottle opener
You’ll also need glassware. At its most basic, that means tall glasses, short glasses and stemmed glasses. Or in bar terms, highball glasses, old fashioned glasses (or lowball or rocks), martini and margarita glasses, champagne flutes and wine glasses.
When it comes to alcohol, that’s another personal matter. If you never drink rum, and don’t entertain people who do, there’s no reason to have rum in your bar. Stock your bar with these items and you can make a huge variety of classic and modern cocktails. Look for organic liquors whenever possible.
- Dark and Light Rum
- Sweet and Dry Vermouth
And you will need mixers like club soda or seltzer, tonic water, ginger ale, sparkling lemonade, and cola as well as sugar syrup and assorted fruit juices. From the kitchen, limes, lemons, oranges, seasonal fruits, fresh herbs like mint and lemon verbena, sugar and ice. Lots and lots of ice. Stylish trays to corral everything are always nice as well.