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How to Set Up a Bar at Home

Jon Fesmire | August 2, 2017 @ 9:00 AM

We’ve all seen them on television, usually in the homes of people of means who will pour themselves a drink after work or when having a serious conversation. I’m talking about a home bar, where you can pour a glass of scotch or create a brilliant and delicious mixed drink.

What is the best way to set up a bar at home? It helps to know some basics about liquor, and to bring some imagination.

The Bar

There are all sorts of options for the bar itself, from a metal bar with wheels to larger, wooden cabinets, and even huge bars bigger than most kitchen islands.

You can purchase a piece of furniture meant to be a bar, or you can do some budget shopping. Check out a thrift store that sells furniture, like your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. Basically, you need a place to keep your liquor, and you need to be able to serve or mix drinks on the top surface.


To mix drinks, you’ll want some cocktail mixing equipment. The good thing is that you don’t need a lot to get started. You’ll need a bar spoon, a cocktail shaker, a cocktail strainer and jigger, a muddler, and an ice bucket. You’ll want six or so shot classes, stem glasses, and tall glasses. If you throw large parties, however, invest in more.


Now we come to the good stuff! Various types of liquor are the basis for cocktails.

Keep in mind that the more alcohol a liquor has, the longer it will last without refrigeration. The corollary, of course, is that the less alcohol in a liquor, more quickly it loses its flavor. So, place your bar in a part of the living room or kitchen that is cool and does not often get direct sunlight. Consider refrigerating some of those low-alcohol liquors, or drinking them more often than those with higher content. These basic liquor types and common mixers will allow you to make many types of cocktails.
  • Vodka

  • Whiskey

  • Gin

  • Tequila

  • Vermouth

  • Rum

  • Cointreau

  • Bitters

  • Simple syrup

You’ll also want to have a variety of fresh juices along with club soda, tonic and fruit available in your refrigerator. For recipes, keep a book of cocktails handy or search online and find some favorites.

That’s all you really need to set up a basic home bar that will serve your tastes and impress your guests. You can always add more obscure types of liquor, mixers and glassware as you go. Try the recipes you find online and in books, and once you have a handle on popular cocktails, come up with your own.

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