home bar ideas

No matter how small your space is, a home bar is always a hit. (Getty Images)

With the holidays just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to set up an at-home bar to carry you through the entertaining season, and beyond. The ability to whip up a well-mixed cocktail at the drop of a hat will always come in handy, whether you are throwing a party, hosting houseguests or simply treating yourself to a solo nightcap. Even if your space is small, trust us, there’s always room for a bar! Here are our top five home bar ideas for creating a festive setup of your own, regardless of size or budget. 

Make Room: Create a Dedicated Home Bar Space

Start by choosing a dedicated spot for your cocktail setup to live, even if your space — or your budget — is tiny. If you have enough room, a bar cart or cabinet makes for a glamorous accent piece. Options range from simple open carts, which are usually on wheels for convenient mobility from kitchen to party space, to closed cabinets that hold a lot, hide the clutter and double as a piece of furniture.

If you’re short on space or would rather not shell out the cash, clearing a shelf or two on a bookcase works equally well. A tray atop a console or side table will also get the job done, and you can even hang an inexpensive floating shelf that takes up no floor space instead. 

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Equip Yourself: Home Bar Accessories

Invest in some basic bar tools, and you’ll always be ready to mix up a delicious drink. Here are all the accoutrements you’ll need to be a cocktail king (or queen!):

  • cocktail shaker
  • jigger
  • corkscrew
  • bottle opener
  • muddler
  • citrus knife
  • small cutting board
  • a clean towel or two

Stock Up: Booze for Your Home Bar

You’ll find plenty of “rules” out there on which spirits you need for a well-stocked bar, but we think it’s best to begin with a foundation for the drinks you love. Start by thinking about your favorite cocktails and buying the spirits you’ll need for those drinks. Add a bottle or two of white wine, a bottle or two of red and maybe a sparkler for special occasions: (prosecco and cava are both affordable substitutes for Champagne, and just as festive). You can always add more to your collection later, and if people ask what they can bring to your party, you know the answer: another bottle to stock the bar! 

The same philosophy goes for mixers: Keep on hand only what you really like, at least at first. This is your personal bar, after all! That being said, club soda, tonic, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice and orange juice will have you covered for a good variety of cocktails. Bitters are also a great addition to your collection. And here’s a tip: Try making a homemade batch of simple syrup for your next party. It keeps in the fridge for up to a month! 

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Get Educated: Our Favorite Cocktail Books

To help you learn how to mix a variety of basic drinks, it’s a good idea to read a book or two. As you channel your inner mixologist, here are a few recommendations to get you started: How to Cocktail, Bartending for Dummies and Cocktail Codex. Keep them nearby if you need a recipe reminder — they’re also fun for your guests to flip through at parties. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite!

Keep It Glassy: The Best Glassware for a Home Bar

Once you know how to mix up delicious cocktails, you’ll need the glassware to serve them in. Two of each of the following would be a good start:

  • Martini glasses
  • Wine glasses
  • Champagne flutes
  • Old-fashioned or rocks glasses

You can add (or subtract) more as you go, based on how often you serve a particular type of drink. Happy holidays, and bottoms up!

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