There’s no denying that a night out on the town looks very different than it did six months ago. In many areas of the country, bars remain closed. Even the establishments that have reopened can only offer an amended atmosphere: tables and seats at the bar are further apart. Indoor capacity has been slashed; outdoor seating areas have been hastily cobbled together. Patrons at New York bars are required to order food along with their beer and cocktails.
In short, it’s not that much fun to go out for drinks anymore. So why not use this time to develop or perfect a home bar? Read on for some protips that will help you select the ideal supplies and create a convivial ambiance so that you can kick back and relax after a long day of remote work or homeschooling the kids.
1. Think About Your Favorite Tipples
Sure, you could stick a bottle of Stoli in the freezer and call it a day, but where’s the fun in that? If you have a wide range of tastes when it comes to your legal beverages, you will want to build a well-rounded collection of booze.
Take into account the tastes of any family members and close friends will be visiting your bar. Maybe you know that no one in your circle likes gin; it’s OK to skip that entirely in favor of something more popular.
Of course, if you are, say, a bourbon aficionado, it makes sense to buy a variety of bourbons. You might spend a little more for spirits that you like to sip, and save money on your “well” selections that will be used for mixed drinks.
2. Make Room for Mixers
A well-stocked home bar should offer a variety of mixers, as well. A few standard selections might include a few types of bitters, grenadine, club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, simple syrup, and fruit juices. Depending on what you like to drink, liqueurs like vermouth and campari are also a good idea. Bloody Mary or michelada lovers will also want hot sauce and worcestershire.
Keep fresh lemons and limes on hand, as well as olives for the martini drinkers and maraschino cherries for Manhattans and whisky sours. Another nice touch is a selection of rimming salts and sugars.
3. Furnish Your Home Bar
Does your home have a dedicated bar space, in your basement or backyard? If so, setting the scene is that much easier. It might be time to invest in high-quality, comfortable bar stools. A few neon signs and some framed prints or art posters will do for décor, to start. The home barkeep with a slightly higher budget could consider a vintage pinball machine or video game, or go old-school with a dart board, pool table, or poker table.
Get a set of tiki torches to make your al fresco imbibing even more festive.
However, if you live in a smaller home or apartment, kitting out a bar cart in the corner of your living room or study is perfectly serviceable. You could even build it yourself as a fun weekend project!
4. Get Your Glassware Collection Going
Again, what you need in this department will depend on your drink(s) of choice. A few basic mixology supplies to consider stocking include:
- Measuring jigger
- Measuring pour spouts
- Cocktail shaker
- Rocks glasses
- Highball glasses
- Wine glasses and champagne flutes
- Pilsener glasses
- Ice cube trays and ice crusher
Auxiliary items like whiskey stones, a citrus squeezer, and a muddler come in handy as well. And don’t forget a bottle opener!
Lastly, don’t just make do with cheap paper napkins – or worse, a roll of paper towels. Treat yourself to some fun or fancy coasters, cocktail napkins, and even small bowls for bar snacks.
To make this a fun undertaking rather than a chore, start small and don’t feel pressured to purchase all the gadgets and gizmos you come across, a pub’s worth of beer varieties, or every mixer known to man. Once you have the basics accounted for, the rest will grow organically.
Whether it’s in the basement, outside on a patio, or in a corner of the living room, your home bar will become a very special place to spend time, unwind, and entertain. We’ll drink to that!