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How to Create an At-Home Bar

Top 5 Advantages of the Basic Home Bar

What can a home bar do for you that your local tavern can't? In a sense, everything. From a wealth of convenience to spending a fraction of the cost, choosing to stay home and loosen up with a frosty brew is preferable to a crowded, expensive and unpredictable night out.

1. Your taste is always on tap. Between domestic, import and craft varieties, there just isn't enough room in any bar's fridge for every brand and bottle. Even the world's largest commercial beer selection can only offer 2,004 different brews. Add in the many more wines and spirits produced, and there's a chance your favorite drink won't be on the menu. At your home bar, your preferred beers, wines and spirits are always readily available.

2. It's a place where everybody knows your name. With a home bar, you'll never have to worry about any unwanted company or an unattentive staff. You get to share the drinks you want with the people you love, whenever you please.

 

A benefit of a home bar is that you don't have to worry about unwanted company or unattentive staff.

 

3. It's the perfect space for entertaining. From family gatherings around the holidays and Friday nights with friends to intimate conversation with your significant other and hours of laughs with your closest pal, your personal bar is the ideal location to entertain guests of all ages.

4. It offers convenience without the cost. There's always a seat at your bar, and never a line for the bathroom. Every track of music played is always a hit in your book, and the only person limiting the last call is you. Best of all, you'll never pay for an overpriced drink again.

5. Setting up a basic home bar is easy! You don't need a separate room or large area to create a great at-home bar. All you need is a little creativity, a defined space and the right supplies to easily set up an attractive and well-stocked bar for your home or apartment.

There are plenty of additional reasons staying at home and enjoying your bar is better than going out. Perhaps the most important advantage of a home bar is that it gives you freedom of choice. You get to decide whether you want to go out on the town or bring the party to your place. Whether you and a loved one want to indulge in a bottle of fine wine, or if a scotch on the rocks is your end-of-the-work-week ritual, the in-house bar lets you unwind without ever leaving home.

A Home Bar for Every Space and Style

To begin building your perfect bar, you must first determine which type of bar setup will cater to your needs. There are many different types of bars, ranging from small tabletop trays to large built-ins that dominate much of the room. Let's review five common home bar setup ideas so you can identify which would be the best for your entertaining needs.

 

There are many types of home bars.

The Bar Tray

The bar tray, also known as a serving tray, is one of the most versatile accessories you can have in your home. It is compact and portable, allowing you to use it as a basic home bar that can move from room to room. Within a few minutes, you can easily break down the bar and store its contents for future use.

No matter what type of home you live in, a serving tray lets you create a mini-bar on virtually any surface. The possibilities are endless. You can keep a nice bottle of wine and a set of his-and-hers stem glasses on the kitchen counter, or have a bottle of brandy and a snifter waiting for you when you retire to your study. Those who live in one-bedroom or studio apartments can conveniently tuck the bar tray away and bring it out for entertaining. Serving trays are relatively inexpensive, cater to any space and present you with a manageable mini-bar that's the perfect size for entertaining guests.

When choosing a bar tray, you must consider these three features.

  • Material: If you're going to commit to a mini-bar, you need to make sure the tray you choose is reliable. Select a tray material based on your needs. Metal bar trays are sleek, sturdy and easy to clean, making them ideal for serving drinks that may drip or spill. A wooden tray will neatly organize your bottles and glasses without fear of the materials sliding around while you transport the tray. Other materials, like rattan or hard plastic, come in colors or patterns that can complement the design or style of a room.
  • Finish: Some metal trays will have a protective finish that will not scratch as easily. For wood trays, select a lacquered finish that protects from liquid and food stains. The glossy coat will look more attractive and is easy to clean with a quick wipe of the surface.
  • Sides and handles: Don't overlook this feature. Trays with sides raised at least two inches will keep contained items from toppling over. A tray may feature raised, cut-out or extended handles. All three are convenient, though extended handles are ideal because they are gentler on your hands.

If you live in confined quarters and want the luxury of a home bar without having to commit to a designated space, the bar tray is perfect for you.

A bar tray is a great way to have an at-home bar without committing a designated space to it.

The Console Table Bar

A bar tray is perfect for small spaces, but if it leaves you wanting more, perhaps a console table bar is right for you. Already an attractive piece of furniture, the console table can serve a room in many different ways. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and styles that act as decorative, yet functional, accessories. You can define its purpose and placement, which makes it a fantastic fit for your basic home bar.

Transforming your console into a bar is simple. This DIY, easy home bar idea is a great way to store and display your libations with minimal work or expense.

  • First, find the table that matches the décor of the room. If you already have a table that suits your needs, perfect. If not, make sure you purchase a console table you'll wish to continue using if you choose to remove all traces of the bar.
  • Next, decide how you're going to use the table. Some tables have open shelving, while others have closed cabinets. For closed shelving, determine what you want visible and what supplies can stay out of view. The top shelf could feature your bar tray with a set of glasses, one or two bottles of alcohol and a few essentials, like a martini shaker, ice bucket and jiggers. The enclosed spaces are perfect for storing extra glassware, bottles and other handy tools you don't need cluttering up the surface. Organize tables with open shelving to neatly display the available drink options, glassware sizes or the mixers and bitters. Your options for storage and display are virtually endless.
Organize open shelves to neatly display drink options, glassware, and more.
  • Then, choose a theme. Is your bar table an island paradise for a margarita, or is it a classy affair that puts your prized bottle of aged scotch front and center? Anything from a new coat of paint to a couple of stylish decorations can turn your console bar into a work of art.
  • Finally, enjoy! As with any creative project, the result of your DIY home bar should fill you with pride and make you excited to see it in action. Have a few friends over to show off your work, or mix yourself a cocktail, sit back and let your new bar handle the rest.

The console table bar can cater to any space, doubling as an attractive and reliable piece of furniture that can move with you from home to home.

The Bar Cart

Combine the portability of a bar tray with the fashionable features of a table bar, and you get the beautiful piece of furniture known as the bar cart. From its use as a tea trolley in the Victorian era to becoming today's trendy must-have for modern homes, the bar cart has a rich history. While the head of the house can look suave mixing cocktails for guests, the inviting nature and accessibility of the bar cart encourage partygoers to participate by making their own drinks. Even in a limited space, a visually appealing cart is a less expensive way of adding a designated bar to a room. Bar carts and their accessories can also provide a creative outlet for those who want to indulge in mixology as a form of self-expression.

A bar cart is a less expensive way to add a bar to a room.

 

The bar cart has many of the same advantages as the bar console: on-the-spot assistance, an extension of space, the ability to quickly transform and make a design statement. It is easy to move out of view or use it for additional purposes aside from a liquor cabinet. An enhanced version of the bar tray and console table, the chic bar cart has three distinct benefits:

  • It's versatile. Though any space can accommodate a bar console, the bar cart can be a stand-alone piece of furniture that does not necessarily need to coordinate with the surrounding décor. While you may be forced to choose a console table material that matches the other end tables or fixtures of a room, a bar cart has self-contained style that can transition seamlessly from room to room.
  • It promotes fluid conversation. When preparing or refilling drinks in a space separate from the entertaining area, the host must leave their guests. With a bar cart conveniently placed in the living room or lounge, you and your guests have instant access to the drink station without the frustrating need to interrupt the conversation.
  • It moves with the party. If you and your guests like to mingle between rooms or take the conversation outside, the trusty bar cart can follow you wherever you go. Unlike a set console table or a heavy bar tray that can become a burden, the bar cart is ready to roll from place to place without inconvenience.
A bar cart can easily roll from place to place in your home.

 

The bar cart is a portable party solution you can effortlessly decorate, organize and display in any room of the house.

The Built-In Wet Bar

A fully stocked bar with a working sink — a wet bar is a true beauty. A wet bar is more than a bar with running water, though. The drink prep area is designed to be a separate space for mixing drinks that can also contain spills. Unlike the bar cart, table or tray, the wet bar should prevent spillage from falling onto the floor or ruining other furniture. The sink and drain allow you to contain a spill quickly, mop it up and preserve the area from stains, grime and mold. A wet bar will offer homeowners four great advantages:

  • It frees up your kitchen. During any social gathering, guests will inevitably gravitate to wherever the food and drinks are — usually the kitchen. A wet bar offers a dedicated bar space conveniently located in the entertaining area. Instead of having your guests feel crowded in a cramped kitchen, the wet bar allows them to socialize freely without feeling uncomfortable.
  • It also minimizes clutter in your kitchen fridge. Most drinks and foods need refrigeration, forcing your daily groceries to fight your bar items for space. A wet bar typically features at least one mini-fridge that provides separate storage for your party supplies.
A wet bar typically includes a mini-fridge to store your supplies.
  • The additional sink is a priceless resource. If your bar is in a room other than your kitchen, it can be inconvenient when the time comes to clean up the party. Carting empty glasses and plates from room to room only increases the chances of trailing the mess throughout your house. A wet bar with a built-in sink helps you contain used dishes and cups. Once your guests leave, you have a convenient place to wash, dry and store all of your bar supplies without hassle.
  • A wet bar might add value to your home. Unlike a bar cart, tray or table, the wet bar is a fixture of the home. Not unlike other renovations, this investment may increase the resale value of your home. The added aesthetics and functionality a wet bar provide could be a selling point for new homeowners who desire an at-home bar that is ready to use.

If you have the room and budget for a dedicated entertaining area, the wet bar is a sophisticated addition that brings functionality and added value to the home.

The Classic Dry Bar

The moment your guests lay their eyes on this wooden wonder, they'll know you're serious about creating the perfect home bar. A wet bar is surely a fancy home addition, but nothing beats having a traditional dry bar. Smoothly finished countertops and comfortable bar stools bring the essence of a formal pub straight to your home. While the simple liquor cabinet or bar cart may suffice for others, your passion for authenticity and penchant for entertaining have convinced you to give you and your guests an unforgettable experience.

There are hundreds of ways you can incorporate a classic counter bar in your home. Even if you have limited space, you can still accommodate a classic-looking bar into your home's design.

  • Trunk or folding bars are similar to liquor cabinets. Instead of being limited to storage, they unfold to create a bar counter that allows you to mix and serve drinks. You and your guests can either stand at the bar, or you can place barstools on either side for a more comfortable setting.
  • Straight-top bars can be relatively the same length as a fully opened folding bar and typically has storage along the back side. The front side is usually flat and may feature a foot rail or raised bar lip. Portable straight-top bars have casters attached to their base so you can wheel them from room to room, similar to a bar cart.
A wraparound bar is a sizeable at home bar that is not permanently installed in a room.
  • Wraparound barshave two sides that run perpendicular to one another. Picture two straight-top bars that come together at a corner. Larger than a trunk or folding bar, these bars provide a "pub" feel without the need for expansive construction that comes with a built-in bar. If you're looking for a sizeable bar that is not permanently installed in a room, a wraparound bar is ideal for you.
  • Built-in bars are the ultimate home bar. Polished footrails, a fully stocked back bar and enough space to entertain all of your guests — this type of bar allows you to bring your imagination to life. You can include everything from refrigeration and sinks to special lighting and electronic outlets for mounting your television and sound system. To really impress your guests, add a kegerator or similar device so you all can enjoy draft beer from your very own tap.

You can never go wrong with a classic. The traditional bar is an investment. However, it provides an unrivaled entertaining experience you and your guests will love.

How to Stock a Home Bar

Whether you decided on a basic home bar or an elaborate built-in, it's time to fill it. Here are a few tips that'll help you gather a drink selection, pick out the right tools and keep your bar looking great.

Selecting Beverages

Selecting beers should be a no-brainer. If you have at least one or two bestselling beers, a popular craft beer and a preferred hard cider, you should have no complaints from your party guests. The same applies to wine: Stocking a bottle of white wine, like a chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, and a bottle of red wine, like a merlot or pinot noir, should suffice. Creating a home bar liquor list, however, can be tricky.

The first rule in choosing your liquor is to pick the ones you enjoy drinking. While all commercial bars will have varieties of vodka, rum, tequila, gin, scotch and bourbon on hand, don't feel pressured to include all six. Unless you have a frequent guest or family member who prefers tequila, don't include it in your bar if you think it could become a dust collector. The same rule applies for specialty drinks. While the novelty of claiming your bar has everything from Jägermeister and Bailey's to absinthe and moonshine is tempting, your bar should only stock what you wish to drink.

Once you determine which alcohols you want behind the counter, the second rule is to start small. Purchasing a full liquor cabinet in a single trip will be expensive. Grow your bar gradually, starting with the drinks you plan on making regularly. As you continue to entertain guests, you can start considering which options you believe would be next best additions.

Adding Mixers, Bitters & Juices

Though you may enjoy your gin or scotch prepared neat, your guests may need a little extra flavor to truly relax. Although you shouldn't anticipate needing to mix every drink imaginable, you should be prepared to make a few of the classics, like an old-fashioned, a martini and a Manhattan. Any drink that's not neat will require mixers, bitters or juices.

  • Essential mixers: Club soda, tonic water, ginger beer, grenadine syrup, cola or lemon-lime soft drinks
  • Essential bitters: Angostura, orange, celery, Peychaud's
  • Essential juices: Orange, lemon and lime, cranberry, pineapple, tomato

Of course, if you don't know how to mix a certain drink, having the ingredients will only get you so far. Instead of having all of the mixers on hand, you could opt to learn a few common cocktails and stock accordingly. You may not be able to concoct the perfect bloody Mary at first, but your guests will still appreciate a finely crafted Moscow mule or whiskey sour in the meantime.

Instead of having all mixers on hand, opt to learn a few common cocktails and stock accordingly.

Adding Garnishes

They say a true home bar isn't fully stocked unless you have a hearty supply of garnishes. A cocktail garnish adds ornamental appeal to a drink. Edible garnishes like fruits, herbs, vegetables and spices can add sweet, savory and salty hints of flavor to any drink. A few you could add to your home bar include:

  • Oranges and cherries
  • Lemons and limes
  • Salt, pepper and sugar
  • Cocktail olives and onions
  • Tabasco sauce and horseradish

Types of Glassware

You've got the drinks, now you need something to drink them out of. Specific glassware can elevate a good cocktail into a great one. The following glassware will ensure you serve each drink the proper way:

  • Beer mugs and pint glasses
  • Martini and rocks glasses
  • Highball and tall glasses
  • Red and white wine glasses

Essential Tools for Every Bar

Whether you're an aspiring mixologist or just someone who enjoys a properly prepared drink, you're going to need a set of tools to help you out. We suggest investing in a few of these must-haves to keep behind your bar:

  • Shaker, strainer and muddler
  • Citrus peeler and press
  • Bar spoons and jiggers
  • Bottle opener and wine corkscrew

The Importance of Bar Towels

Finally, to keep your bar looking great for years, you're going to need a great set of bar mops. Accidents happen, and you don't want the inevitable spill to stain or ruin your floor or furniture. With all of the effort you put into creating your home bar, you'll want to maintain it properly. Bar towels and bar mops are essential in ensuring a night of entertaining doesn't leave you with a sticky, moldy or smelly bar. Towel Super Center has the bar towels you need to protect your bar from any mess. All of our super-absorbent towels are made of durable cotton that won't leave any liquids or odors behind.

Towel Super Center is the leading wholesale towel supplier on the Internet and your go-to destination for the best towels for your home bar. Our bar mops are available in a variety of sizes and can handle any spill across your bar. Restaurants and pubs across the nation trust us to provide their employees with reliable linens that keep their counters clean even in the worst of messes.

Whether you entertain guests with a tidy tray, a sturdy cart or a built-in behemoth, you want to keep your bar looking and smelling great at all times. Towel Super Center can provide you with the affordable, high-quality bar mops you need to protect your bar. We'll offer you quality, value and customized service you can't find anywhere else. Your bar treats you well — show it the same care and consistency by keeping a stack of bar towels ready to soak up every drip that threatens to stain your bartop. Shop our incredible selection of bar mops and towels, and trust Towel Super Center to provide you with the products you need to keep your home bar in perfect condition!

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