Part of being young is going out on the town, meeting new people, and enjoying a fancy drink or two. However, when you’ve met the people you want to meet and want to spend a night in with them, you may still crave those finely crafted libations you can get at a restaurant. How can you get around this cocktail conundrum? Why not design a DIY home bar that will have your friends tipping their glasses instead of their bartender.
There are a number of benefits to having a home bar – aside from the fun factor! Though it may seem expensive to stock initially, having a home bar can really cut the costs typically accrued during a long night out on the town. You could be paying upwards of $10 for a nice cocktail at a bar or restaurant, but only a little more for an entire bottle of alcohol that will serve you and your friends that cocktail several times over! This can save you big money if you find yourself ordering drinks out frequently. It’s also a great way to improve your mixology skills, if you ever plan on making some side money waitressing or bartending at a restaurant.
The great part about making a home bar is that you really only need 5 simple supplies to make the whole thing come together. Before you know it, you’ll be sipping on some spectacular cocktails that were made just feet away from your living room sofa.
Of course, you can just place all of your supplies in the kitchen, but it doesn’t quite have the same effect. Having a safe place to store all of your bar supplies and drink ingredients is a great idea. In addition, creating an actual bar area is more impressive and aesthetically pleasing. Of course, you could try to buy or build a bar in your apartment, but this can be expensive and possibly enrage your landlord depending on the terms of your lease. There are many ways to make a home bar aside from literally building a bar.
The easiest way to create a small home bar is to purchase a serving cart. They come in many different styles and price ranges, from vintage to modern, from small to large. Many of them can toll around, making them convenient to place and store in your apartment. If you want to get it out of the way when you’re not entertaining, you can always roll it into a nearby closet. Depending on what style of cart you get, this can have a great Mad Men feel to it, as serving carts were pretty common in upper middle class homes back in the day.
If you’re in the mood to DIY, paint up an old bookshelf and begin placing your glassware, alcohol, and other accessories on the various shelves. Use the top to house your main ingredients, a bar mat here you prepare the drinks, and perhaps some flowers or a decorative knick-knack. You can even convert an old flea market wardrobe into a home bar if you have a little extra square footage and want your bar to be a little more discreet.
Tools of the Trade
A fine cocktail just isn’t a fine cocktail if it isn’t made with the tools of the trade. Having a cocktail shaker, strainer, muddler, and a good bottle opener is essential. Using a jigger to measure the amount of alcohol you’re putting in each drink is also a good idea until you’ve mastered the art of free pouring. Luckily, it’s not difficult to find a good bar kit at a reasonable price. Most kitchenware retailers will carry basic home bar supplies. Even some chain stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Target usually have some kind of basic home bar kit in their home sections. Of course, as per usual, you can also find cheaper kits on Amazon. Practice some neat tricks with the shaker in your spare time to impress guests!
Of course, the normal glasses in your kitchen cabinet will get the job done, but both your bar and your drinks look so much nicer when you have the right glassware for the cocktail du jour. Wine glasses, bucket glasses, and shot glasses are great staples for a home bar. If you favor a particular kind of cocktail or drink you know you’ll be making often, then stock up on the kind of glass that cocktail usually goes in. If you want to get a little fancy, pick up some highball, pilsner, and/or martini glasses. This will add a little aesthetic variety to your cocktails.
The alcohol is obviously the “meat and potatoes” of your home bar, so-to-speak. It’s not essential to purchase every alcohol under the sun. A basic bar houses a few essential liquors that will produce a variety of different cocktails. Some of these versatile alcohols include bourbon, gin, vodka, tequila, and dark and/or light rum. Having a bottle of wine or two can’t hurt either. There are also some useful mixers you might want to have on hand as well, such as bitters, vermouth, cointreau, and grenadine. If you’re a fan of dessert cocktails, don’t be afraid to purchase a few cordials or dessert wines. The price and quality of these alcohols is entirely up to you. If you have some cocktails that you like to drink regularly, then be sure to keep any essential alcohols or mixers for those on hand as well. The best thing about a DIY home bar is that it’s highly customizable. Also keep in mind how each alcohol must be stored, especially if your home bar doesn’t have a refrigeration unit.
Having staple cocktail garnishes on hand is a must for giving cocktails that expert finish. Some staple garnishes include olives, celery sticks, cocktail onions, limes, oranges, and maraschino cherries. It’s easiest to cut the fruits into pinwheels, but if you want to get fancy, you can learn how to spiral cut garnishes as well. You can store some of these garnishes right on (or in) your home bar. However, some of the staple cocktail garnishes require refrigeration, which many home bars don’t have. Much like the alcohol, pay attention to the storage needs of each.
Some Finishing Touches
Are you the overachieving type? Well then take your home bar a few steps further. Keeping a small ice bucket on hand will give you easier access to the ice and allow you to preemptively chill anything you desire (assuming it can fit in the ice bucket of course). Keep a cocktail recipe book on hand to try out some new and exciting recipes on occasion or look up that obscure cocktail your friend asked for. It can also be a great addition to a bookshelf bar. Have buddies that prefer to remain sober? Stock your bar with a cheap blender, fresh juices, soda water, and fresh berries so they can have a beautiful virgin drink that won’t have them feeling left out at the party!
As usual, always be sure to drink responsibly and make sure your friends have a DD on hand, no matter how fabulous your home bar may be!
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