As some who enjoys happy hours, weekend drinks, or the occasionally nightcap, regularly going out can really add up to be expensive with minimal return when you can have the joys of delicious, easy cocktails right at home for a fraction of the cost. As an adult, a home bar is an essential place you need to kick back and relax or to entertain guests. If you have the space such as a basement or a large garden space, the sky's the limit as far as how extravagant you can build your bar at home. If what you're looking for is something chic, modern, and minimal at home, you can still have an impressive home bar.
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So, what makes a great home bar without hurting your wallet, especially in comparison to going out to bars on the weekends and spending $20 per drink? The components to think about to make a complete bar at home are the base spirits, the mixers, modifiers, serving glasses, cocktail mixing set, coasters, and decor.
The Foundation of a Home Bar
A bar at home can be a luxurious and inviting part of your home to all of your guests. It's also perfect for those times you just want a nightcap on your own before bed and want an area that's set up for prime access to relaxing cocktail or spirit.
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If you have the space for it, you can transform an extra space in your home such as your basement or garden into a stunning drinks bar. It'll require some crafty building and maybe an extra pair of hands. But it'll be well worth it.
Now, if you're looking for a quick and easy set up that takes up minimal room but still provides a modern and chic appearance, you may want to look into a drink side cart. They're affordable, versatile, mobile, and display your liquor, glasses, and cocktail accessories stunningly. Side carts can be moved from room to room without any hassle.
Base Spirit: Pick Your Poison
The base spirit of drinks is one of the most important elements to your bar at home. Liquors come in beautiful bottles and colours and they even bring a touch of decorations to your bar. One reasons as to why they're displayed front and centre publicly in bars and restaurants is to mesmerise customers.
The base spirit is the liquor of your cocktail and probably the most costly part of your home bar. That includes rum, gin, bourbon, vodka, and so forth. What you choose to purchase is completely based on preferences of your tastebuds.
To make some of the most classic drinks (such as a Tom Collins, Moscow mule, gin and tonic), I recommend you have at least vodka, gin, and whiskey to start off your collection of liquor. Then, slowly add to it as you get more recommendations from friends, find new recipes, and begin to experiment.
Mixers: What's Your Flavour?
Mixers are non-alcoholic liquids that dilute the liquor (or base) such as tonic water, soda water, and juices. Mixers are just as important of an element as the liquor base because they can either add to or take away from the cocktail depending on its quality.
There are countless mixers available for you to try. If you're not sure where to start, usually there are a variety to choose from at your local liquor store. Otherwise, try starting with an affordable and quality mixer such as Fever Tree's tonic or soda water.
Fever Tree has a multitude of tonic water and soda water flavours available including cucumber, lemon, citrus, grapefruit, elderflower, and much more. And it really adds to the flavour of your cocktail as opposed to making it taste like obvious substitute sugar or artificial flavours.
Mellow Out with Modifiers
Modifying agents gives the alcoholic beverage its character or another dimension of flavour by softening the base spirit's alcohol taste while also enhancing its flavour. Modifiers include aromatic wines and spirits (such as Vermouth or Fernet-Branca), fruit juices, and smoothing agents (sugar, eggs, cream).
Are cocktail glasses really necessary? I mean, is any of this truly necessary? Consider this: Have you ever eaten a meal at a restaurant off of a beautiful plate or bowl? The beautiful plating and food decor almost seems to make it taste better. The styling of food doesn't actually make your meal taste any different from whether you ate it out of your own hands or on a plate.
But the difference is, that we eat with our eyes before we eat with our bellies. You can't reach into the screen and taste these drinks, but they look pretty delicious, don't they?
What we see with our eyes, in a sense, enhances the flavour what we're about to consume. In that same way, when you see a bartender lighting up your Goblet of Fire drink with a lighter after pouring it into a beautiful martini glass, doesn't alter the taste much but that entire visual experience enhancing what you're tasting.
With some of these accessories such as chic serving glassware, you and your guests will feel more like you're in a modern, chic bar than your living room.
Shaken, Not Stirred
Cocktail Mixing Set
Having a proper cocktail mixing set is ideal for the best tasting drinks. Have you ever tried shaking ice cubes in tall, cheap glasses? I have. What happens?
Everything shatters. Cheap glasses can't handle that kind of friction from the dense ice cubes. That's when the cocktail shaker becomes extremely useful.
Turn your room temperature drinks into ice cold, refreshing cocktails with minimal dilution by adding all of your tasty ingredients into the cocktail shaker along with a couple of ice cubes. Give it a good shake for a few seconds, then pour the ice cold mixture into a stunning cocktail glass.
This mixing can also help dissolve sugar into the mix and quickly pull out flavours of whatever you add into the mixer include citrus peels, herbs, and spices.
With an ice cold cocktail, you're bound to find rings of condensation dripping onto your new bar, leaving a stained ring as a result. To prevent this damage and mess, invest in a few decorative coasters that can enhance the bar experience while saving you from damaging water stains.
Now, to add the finishing touches. What we've covered so far has all had multiple purposes. The first purpose was for functional use that helps you create the best drinks with the home bar. Spirit bottles, chic glassware, modern side carts, and cocktail mixing sets all have the second function of decor. So, what more is needed for decorations?
Not too much. Just some minor and affordable finishing touches are left for your home bar to have an evening glow about it.
Here are some decoration ideas for your home bar:
1. String Lights - Have string light laid out in a delicate tangle around your bar, neatly lying on each shelf of your bar, or place them in a Mason jar to create a concentrated, ambient glow.
2. Edison Light Bulbs - This has been the newest retro trend that you can find all over the place. It's become popular with its unique squiggly, yellow glowing light contained in long oval-shaped glass. Edison light bulbs make anything around it appear stylish.
3. Green Plants - Dark green plants laid in a bunch or as a long vine draped along a neutral-coloured bar can create a garden-like image that creates a naturally inviting atmosphere.
Who looks at a pristine, beautiful garden and not want to walk into it and touch the foliage? We all want a piece of nature at our fingertips. This added decoration of green plants on your home bar is bound to create a relaxing garden feel.
4. Light Up Signs - In the evening, light up signs create a fun, exciting, and unique atmosphere for a home bar. With a pop of colour, a small space can really stand out.
5. Framed Picture or Sign - If you prefer a fun and more muted space for the bar as opposed to a light up sign, a framed piece of decor may be the way to go. Choose a chic photo or a clever quote printed and hang this above the bar for an inviting and stylish space.
One of the areas of the home that doesn't have to be a cookie cutter of all other homes is a home bar because it's a place that you can make your own. Now that you have a guide of how to build and decorate a bar for yourself at home, be creative and have fun with it. Make it a unique space, keeping in mind whether it's a place for you or guests and tailor it to the intended audience. Leave a comment below and let me know how it turns out for you.
The Palette Cleanser