Creating the perfect at-home bar doesn’t have to be a challenge when you infuse it with your own flair and the right amount of booze to get the party going.
When buying a stand-alone bar, D.C. interior designer Josh Hildreth advises sticking to your style and creating a bar that serves as a conversation piece.
“The at-home bar can actually be something that creates visual interest in the room,” Hildreth said.
Carts with wheels are perfect for smaller apartments or just indecisive hosts because they can be moved to different places in the home and can roll away into a closet for easy storage post-party.
“If you have a very small space, I'm a big fan of mobile [carts],” Hildreth said. “There are some lovely ones that are collapsible carts.”
For apartments really strapped for space, Hildreth recommends repurposing a countertop or side table with a tray big enough to hold all of your bar accoutrements, including interesting decanters and a variety of bar snacks.
“If you don’t have space for another piece of furniture in your apartment, what I would focus on is finding a really nice tray and putting it on a piece of furniture you already have,” Hildreth said.
The centerpiece of any bar is the alcohol itself, and Adam Bernbach, bar director at 2 Birds 1 Stone, is all about simplicity in drink choices.
“Know what you enjoy and build around what you enjoy,” Bernbach said. “Keep it as simple and as close to that as possible.”
When it comes to your bar, don’t shy away from your personal tastes in both looks and alcohol. Having a couple of go-to drinks that you like gives your bar a unique touch and can save space when it comes to keeping it stocked with alcohol.
Hildreth, who is designing a whiskey bar in the closet of a home library for his addition to the DC Design House, recommends paring down your drink options to save space.
“It’s nice to have some signature drinks,” he said. “Depending on if you have a really small space, you’re probably not going to want to have 12 bottles of liquor. Land on a certain type of drink that you enjoy and your friends enjoy. If it’s a martini bar, maybe focus on two or three types of vodka and a really nice bottle of gin.”
Hildreth also suggests serving inventive cocktails to your partygoers.
“When we entertain at home it’s a great way to introduce people to new drinks,” Hildreth said. “I think at home we should be a little bit more daring with what we serve and what we try.”
Your glassware is just as important as the drinks that go in them. Investing in some quality glasses that are appropriate for the drinks you’re serving can up the elegance of your bar from red Solo cups or grabbing whatever you reach first in your cabinet.
“I think it’s important to have good rock glasses, maybe some stemware if you like to enjoy your wine like that,” Bernbach said. “If one of the drinks you enjoy are martinis, it’s important to be in a stem glass so it doesn’t warm [the drink] too quickly.”
Below, you can find a few of Hildreth's recommendations that covers all the basics for a small at-home bar, in all price ranges from prince to pauper!
- Hollis and Knight ANTIQUE ENGLISH OVAL SILVERPLATE TRAY, $4,200
- FORNASETTI Brindisi Serving Tray, $1,275
- Scully & Scully WILLIAM YEOWARD COCO MIRRORED BAR TRAY, $950
- SAMBONET Gio Ponti Tray, $475
- Jonathan Adler LACQUER TRAY, $225
- Pottery Barn Monogram COPPER TRAY, $99
- Reed & Barton Cocktail Set, $2,750
- F. Press Red Stripe/Gold Crowns Set, $525
- Nautical Signal Caddy Set, $425
- Mercury Band Ice Bucket Set, $395
- Godinger Hammered Bar Set with Tools, $70
- Jonathan Adler CHEVAL BAR CART, $1,950
- Jonathan Adler JACQUES BAR CART, $1,450
- Crate & Barrel Hobbs Bar Cart,$269.00
- Wisteria, RATTAN BUTLER TRAY, $119
- IKEA RÅSKOG Utility cart, $29.99
- Waterford Dungarvan 7oz Tumbler and Decanter, $350
- Moser Tipsy Barware Set, $195-$215
- Moser Drift Ice Barware Set, $145-$160
- Williams-Sonoma Double Old-Fashioned Glasses (4), $49.95
- Williams-Sonoma Martini Glasses (4), $47.96
- Asprey London LIGHTHOUSE COCKTAIL SHAKER, $10,500
- William Yeoward Crystal Jerry Cocktail Shaker, $950
- Dumbbell Cocktail Shaker, $199
- Restoration Hardware, VINTAGE HOTEL RECIPE COCKTAIL SHAKER, $84
- HIC Harold Import Co. 18 oz. Penguin Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker, $55.99
- Michael Aram Rock Ice Bucket, $350.00
- Kate Spade two of a kind ice bucket, $80.00
- Crate & Barrel Oval Party Beverage Tub, $69.95
- Lucite Ice Buckets by Boatman Geller, $40