If you enjoy entertaining friends at your place, but also like to tip a few (or many) drinks back with your pals, then you may have always thought about putting together your own bar. Or, if you’ve always thought it would be fun to be a bartender, without having to cut off violent drunks or talk to complete strangers, then building your own bar is a great way to hang with your buddies and make them drinks.
If you’ve never worked in the service industry, or occasionally still order “just a highball” at pubs, however, then you likely don’t know the first thing about how to make a drink, much less a bar. While it may seem easy at first glance, if you don’t give some thought as to what kind of bar you really need, this “fun” little project could quickly turn into an expensive waste of time.
So, whether you’re hoping to build an amazing “watering hole” at your own place, or offer your friends some interesting options other than “beer or light beer,” here are some tips for making the perfect personal home bar.
Build a Bar, Not a Pub
If you’re a booze enthusiast who has never entered a pub they didn’t like, then you might be tempted to go way overboard. If cash is tight, or you don’t have a lot of space, then it’s important to remember that your personal bar doesn’t need everything that exists in a real pub.
For example, if you’re planning on building an actual bar that your friends can sit at, remember that you don’t need a bar counter that can accommodate 20 people. While you might have a house party now and again, most of the time you’ll likely have what? Four? Six people over?
While putting in a draught beer system would be pretty awesome―actually really awesome―it’s important to remember that kegs of beer eventually go flat. The same thing goes for a cooler.
While your favorite bar or pub might have a massive fridge to chill hundreds of bottles, chances are you can get away with a smaller one that can hold a couple dozen. Having a fully stocked bar with beer on tap might make your friends extremely jealous, but it will cost a ton of money to build and maintain.
Or Keep It Real Simple
While having your own version of “Cheers” downstairs could be a dream come true, often it’s just not feasible. The reality is, however, that you can still have a great bar that will get the job done without going the whole nine yards.
If you really want to have some sort of counter top then keep it relatively short. Most department stores sell small bar kits or bar cabinets, for example, which are relatively easy to set up and don’t cost too much.
If that’s still out of your price range, or you think any bar top is an eyesore, then you can also go the table route. Just make sure that it’s sturdy, as not only are liquor and glassware heavy, but there’s a reasonable chance it will get bumped once or twice as the festivities go on…
Choose Your Liquor Wisely
Another pitfall to avoid is trying to stock a bazillion bottles of liquor. Often people want to be certain that their bar has wide selection of booze to meet any person’s request. While this may be a good and thoughtful idea, it doesn’t mean your bar needs eight different types of vodka.
Before you buy any liquor, consider what you and your friends drink. If everyone in your gang starts to gag upon hearing the word “tequila,” then maybe your bar doesn’t need a bottle or two. Or, if you want to have some just in case, consider buying a few mini bottles instead.
A good place to start is with the basics. Pick up a bottle each of gin, vodka, bourbon, scotch, and rum. You can cover a lot of drinking bases by having these in stock, and if you want to keep costs low, don’t buy premium brands.
If you want to be able to make a few different types of cocktails, then you’ll need some extra booze that can be mixed with your basic spirits. For example, if you and your friends love “James Bond” or “Sex in the City,” then you’ll need a bottle of dry vermouth to make gin or vodka martinis.
If you have no idea what goes in what drink, then do some research to see what you and your friends might need. For example, if Black Russian drinks are “so good,” then you‘ll need some Kahlua to go with the vodka.
Other Essential Items
Of course, you’re going to need some glassware, but here again, don’t go overboard. If you and your friends loathe martinis, then don’t go out and buy two dozen martini glasses. If money’s really tight, then just use cups and glasses that you already own. While your snooty friend might throw a hissy fit if you serve them their “Old Fashioned” in a coffee mug, they’ll likely live.
Other things your bar will need is a martini shaker, a bottle opener, and various items like salt, sugar, Tabasco sauce, and olives if you plan on making various types of cocktails. Depending on the drinking habits of your social circle, having things like cola, different kinds of juice, and tonic or soda water for mix is also pretty important.