The Foodie


How to Build the Perfect Home Bar

October 02, 2008
by Christopher Coats
Skip the lines, costs and tips: Host your friends at home with a bar of your own making.

The Budget Home Bar

Blame it on rising gas prices, inflated bar costs or just the trouble it takes to make the trip downtown or to the nearest corner pub: heading out on the town for a drink has never been more of a pain. While there are few things better than imbibing with friends at the end of a week, an evening spent searching for parking, paying covers and navigating through dense crowds could cause more stress than relaxation.

Instead of bothering with the struggle, a number of DIY-ers have decided to skip the crowds and cost all together by creating their own home bars. The bars range from a minimal collection of favorite spirits to complete interior overhauls. Home bars are affordable, no matter what your needs may be. If you’re hoping to pull off a minimal home bar on a tight budget, there’s no shortage of advice out there.

Finding the Right Tools

Start with the basic bar accessories. Regardless of the drinks you plan on making, there are about seven or eight essentials everyone should have. These tools of the trade can usually be found as a part of a shaker set or basic bar set.

Any bar needs to consider the necessary glassware in order to make sure a margarita never ends up served in a cordial glass. Connoisseurs of barley and hops will need beer glasses as well.

If you’re planning on serving up anything that demands more than a simple shake—such as a frozen margarita or daiquiri, for instance—consider a heavy-duty, high-voltage blender with a sturdy base and glass container to assure a stable, clean mix.

A Little Light Reading

Sure, it’s not meant to be a library, but there are a few books that no bar—home or otherwise—should be without.

To assure that no request is met with a blank stare, amateur bar owners should invest in a comprehensive cocktail guide. Though there is no shortage of such collections, “The Ultimate Bar Book” and “The Playboy Bartender’s Guide” are the two most often cited volumes available. Full of recipes, tips and even remedies for the morning after, one or the other of these bar books is an absolute necessity.

For the iPhone set, Esquire magazine’s “Drinks Database” puts bartenders one click away from just about every alcoholic combination on the planet.

Choosing Your Labels

No home bar is complete without a wide selection of spirits and mixers to keep even your pickiest friends happy. The options may be endless, but a number of experts have chimed in with their own lists of necessary items for the perfect home bar. provides three different classes of bar necessities, including “Business Class,” “First Class” and “Private Jet” levels of bottles that are must-haves, from liquors to mixers to garnishes.

Meanwhile, Debonair Magazine takes a low-cost approach to the home bar with a collection to keep things stocked on a budget, but without sacrificing quality along the way.

For Some Extra Flair

If a spare room, unused basement or garage awaits, the home bar possibilities are limited only by one’s imagination. For every crazy home bar idea, there’s someone out there ready and willing to make it a reality. And there’s no shortage of bar gadgets and heavy-duty equipment to replicate an authentic bar experience. An ice-cold pint drawn from a keg? No problem.

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