| by jeffrey bollinger | february 2, 2024 |

uncork your creativity, unlock your spirit, and let's craft a home bar that's anything but ordinary.

how to style a bar

forget those sterile countertops and generic glassware – your home bar isn't just a place to pour a drink; it's a stage for unforgettable gatherings, a canvas for your personality, and a gateway to countless adventures. this article will help you transform your corner of the world into a haven for good times and effortless charm. let's embark on this journey together and create your dream bar, one clinking glass at a time. are you ready to shake things up?

 

 

the bar itself

the foundation of any well-equipped home bar is choosing the right bar and essential cocktail-making tools. first, decide whether a dedicated bar area or a bar cart suits your space and needs. a built-in or freestanding home bar offers ample room for tools and liquor storage. take measurements to find the right proportions for your space. consider the floor plan flow and where you want your bar located - tucked away or as a focal point? durability and easy cleaning are key for countertop materials like wood, marble, granite, or tile. include cabinets, shelves, drawers, and sinks for organization.

for smaller spaces, a bar cart provides mobility. look for ones with multiple tiers to hold supplies and lockable wheels for safety. a tray on top can serve drinks in style. match your cart's finish to your decor - metals like brass, gold, or silver, or wood finishes like black, maple, or mahogany.

Home bar with wine bottle and glasses on marble counter with shelves in the background, contemporary bar cart with white board and batten wall.

essential tools

once you've selected your bar, stock it with cocktail-making essentials:

cocktail shaker - a stainless steel cobbler shaker with built-in strainer is versatile for shaken drinks.
muddler - for mashing fruits, herbs, and sugar to release flavors. choose one with a flat or rounded end.
jiggers - these dual-sided measuring tools ensure accurate liquor portions.
strainers - a hawthorne strainer with a spring for cocktails with fruit and ice. a julep strainer for drink stirring.
barware - such as a mixing glass for stirring and serveware like a decanter or colored glassware.
bar tools - like a corkscrew, bottle opener, citrus zester, peeler and knife.

consider which cocktails you'll want to make. extra tools like a blender, spice grinder, or liquor infusion equipment can expand your options. decanting bottles into personalized containers also adds flair. equipping your bar properly will make mixology a breeze!

Essentials bar tools like cocktail shaker, citrus zester, muddler, corkscrew, and cocktail strainer.

storage & organization

a functional home bar requires proper storage and organization. trays and coasters add surface space for holding bar tools, glassware, and garnishes within easy reach. for spirits, install sturdy wall-mounted shelves or freestanding liquor cabinets. organize bottles categorically or by liquor type.

keep refrigeration handy for perishable ingredients and beverages. an undercounter wine and beverage fridge or integrated ice maker frees up space. for portable storage, use galvanized buckets or bins to chill white wines, beers, and bottled mixers. fill ice buckets ahead of time so drinks stay cold.

designate drawers, canisters, and glass jars for bar accessories like citrus fruits, olives, cherries, horseradish, worcestershire sauce, bitters, toothpicks, and cocktail napkins. acrylic organizers keep limes and lemons fresh. store vermouth and other wine-based ingredients in a cool, dark cabinet.

proper labeling prevents searching and ensures rotated stock. discard expired mixers, juices or garnishes. a yearly inventory helps you restock supplies and remove seldom-used bottles cluttering your bar. with a strategic organizational system, you'll find everything easily!

personalizing your space

once your functional bar is set up, make it your own with personal flourishes reflecting your style. photographs of loved ones, friends or fun memories add heart to your bar. frame favorite album covers or concert posters for music lovers. display artwork or decorative objects d'art you've collected.

for a nostalgic old hollywood vibe, decorate with vintage curiosities like art deco barware, a retro telephone, or framed romantic film posters. travel souvenirs like coasters, statues, or bottles from abroad inject far-flung flair. or recreate a favorite vacation with themed decor - a tiki motif with rattan, bamboo and tropical greenery, or an aspen ski lodge look with rustic wood, leather and antler accents.

lighting ties a custom bar together. accent with vintage lamps or an eye-catching chandelier. wall sconces or pendant lights illuminate bar workspaces. candles set a soft glow for intimate gatherings at dusk. strings of edison bulbs or a neon sign cast a retro-chic ambiance.

no matter your design, personalize with treasured items, meaningful artwork, worldly artifacts, or nostalgic memorabilia. add lighting to match your mood. a personalized home bar becomes an oasis that reflects your interests and style.

Images of a California style home bar and a tropical style home bar.

decorative touches

add visual interest and texture to your bar with decorative accents that reflect your personal taste.

textured fabrics like plush velvet on barstools or distressed leather on a bar sign infuse tactile coziness. cut glass vases with fresh flowers or colorful bottles grouped together compose an inviting still life. sculptural objects like coral and shell collections or artistic glassware make captivating displays.

repurpose everyday items in playful ways - suspend wine glasses from the ceiling or stack vintage suitcases as end tables. windowpane mirrors amplify light and dimensions.

seasonal and festive flourishes keep the vibe fresh. display pinecones and velvet bows during the holidays or leis and paper lanterns for tropical summer soirees. stock shelves with cocktail-making books or bar guides and have a cocktail shaker filled with lively conversation starters. provide games like darts, cards, or chess. an engaging atmosphere makes guests linger. when decoratives objects tell a story, reflect your hobbies, or spur conviviality, your home bar becomes the room everyone gravitates toward.

cocktail inspiration

don't underestimate the power of a well-worn recipe book. the unconventional booze & vinyl series books, for example, artfully pairs iconic albums with bespoke cocktails channeling their themes and vibes. think...a suffering bastard cocktail evoking johnny cash's dark mystique or a bubbly, fizzy fallen angel bevvy echoing the effervescence of prince. cocktail bibles like the savoy cocktail book and the pdt cocktail book offer timeless recipes and rich historical context. modern trailblazers like death & co.: modern classic cocktails and cocktail codex push boundaries with innovative techniques and inspired flavor combinations.

the internet overflows with resources for cocktail enthusiasts. platforms like imbibe magazine serve up curated databases of recipes, articles, and video tutorials from seasoned bartenders and industry experts. websites like serious eats and punch probe the science and lore of cocktails, while social media hubs like #craftcocktail on instagram showcase stunning visuals and creative concoctions from amateurs and pros alike. don't forget handy apps like difford's guide and mixel that help you build a personalized recipe library and even suggest cocktails based on what's in your bar.

but perhaps the most thrilling form of inspiration is your own imagination. experiment with unexpected flavors, infuse with fresh herbs, play with unconventional ingredients. did your garden yield a bumper basil crop? muddle it with cucumber and gin for a summery twist on a mojito. craving something smoky? swap mezcal for tequila in a margarita and pair it with charred pineapple. remember, the most captivating cocktails often spring from curiosity and a willingness to tinker.

so raise a glass - whether inspiration springs from the pages of a vintage book, the online cocktail hivemind, or your own creative intuition, let it flow freely. craft cocktails that channel your unique tastes and tell your personal story!

Booze & Vinyl cocktail recipe books.

celebrating your new space

after all the planning, designing, personalizing and stocking, the best part of having a home bar is finally putting it to use! make the most of your personalized bar oasis by hosting lively gatherings, continuing to experiment with new recipes, and savoring the atmosphere you've created. bring friends together for a sophisticated cocktail party or casual get-together over drinks. show off your mixology skills behind the bar preparing customized creations for guests. make it an interactive experience by having self-serve stations with ingredients and tools for diy cocktails.

for more intimate evenings in, impress a date with a carefully crafted cocktail using local, seasonal ingredients. or enjoy a nightcap solo while listening to a vinyl record, admiring your decor.

even after your bar is complete, keep innovating with new cocktail recipes, infusions, barware and ornamentation. rotate in different artwork, flowers or accent pieces to keep the look fresh.

most importantly, take moments to appreciate the atmosphere you've cultivated - close your eyes and inhale the mingling scents of botanical gins, sweet citrus and fresh herbs. savor the chill of an icy martini glass in your hand. smile knowing that your home bar reflects your style and hospitality. this is a space for connection, celebration and life's simple pleasures.

cheers!

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1 comment

I am currently working on designing my own home bar and this was inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

Katherine

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Jeffrey Parker Bollinger blog article profile image.

jeffrey bollinger is a co-founder of parker + gibbs. he established himself in the information technology field after spending over two decades based in atlanta. upon becoming a homeowner, he discovered a hidden talent for interior design. he now cultivates this passion into curating stylish, livable spaces for his own place and lends his stylistic eye to consulting clients on their interior design and décor needs. oh...and writing blog posts. :)

@parkerandgibbs


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