Sometimes, you wanna go where everybody knows your name—and where there’s never a line for the bathroom and drinks are always on the house. That’s why the top tavern is the one you build. Follow these five steps to home bar bliss.
A bar is more than the bottles it pours. That means bye-bye kitchen cabinet (or the fridge crisper) and hello dedicated bar space. Whether you’re transforming an entire room or just a nook (they don’t call it a corner pub for nothin’!), start with sturdy, dark wood cabinetry for a true tavern feel. Plan for closed cabinetry below (liquor and sunlight don’t mix), and use the upper storage for glassware.
Skip the high-maintenance wood bar-top in favor of stone or composite counters that wipe easy and won’t have you on constant coaster watch. Install a bar sink and a faucet such as Delta’s Cassidy Single Handle Bar/Prep Faucet so you’re not stuck running glasses to the kitchen. And be sure to save space on one side of the sink for a small drying rack. When water droplets fester inside glassware, bacteria can grow and affect the taste of your next cocktail.
To make sure your crowd stays for a second round, give them a comfy place to sit. For a small space, add two plush lounge chairs and a coffee table big enough to hold a couple of glasses and a game of checkers. For a larger home bar with a counter, bring in high-backed stools. If your stools don’t have footrests, consider installing one beneath the bar (dangling legs can make guests feel fidgety).
Only master mixologists need an arsenal of gizmos. You just need the essentials:
A dozen different vodkas doesn’t guarantee delicious drinks. Think quality, not quantity, as you stock your bar. To make most classic drinks—even for a crowd—you need 10 basic bottles. Start with these seven staples ...
1. Gin (for martinis and G&Ts)
2. Tequila (margaritas and sunrises)
3. Bourbon (old-fashioneds and Manhattans)
4. Cognac (sazeracs and sidecars)
5. Rum (Cuba Libres)
6. A high-end aged whiskey (for sipping)
7. Vodka (for practically everything else; get the best you can afford)
… Then add three mixers: citrusy Cointreau, floral vermouth and herbal bitters like Campari.
Now, select a single red and white as your house wines—and it’s your house, so choose what you like, although merlot and pinot grigio are mild, everybody-drinks-them choices. Finally, stock a trio of beers. Choose something bitter and hoppy (look for pale ales and IPAs), something citrus-sweet (grab a wheat beer or hefeweizen), and something dark and roasty (a porter or stout).
Think about how you’ll spend time in the space, then personalize it. Evoke a classic pub with vintage beer posters, neon signs and logo towels. Or go for a wine lounge vibe with sleek, contemporary artwork and a speaker system oozing smooth jazz. Wanna watch the game? Install a TV. Or be the game: Hang a dartboard, haul in a pool table or plug in a pinball machine.