Guest Post: How to create and stock your own home bar

[Ed.: We’re always open to guest posts here on Queen City Drinks, if you want to do 1 or 100 just shoot me an email at Tom@QueenCityDrinks.com. This post is from Blake Daniels a stay-at-home dad from Upstate NY that enjoys the simpler things in life. You would most likely find him building forts with his boys, cooking delicious meals for his wife, brewing and enjoying beer or mowing the lawn.]

Whether you’re a professional brewmaster, amateur homebrewer, or someone that simply enjoys finer beer and liquor, a home bar is something that might make the perfect addition to your house or man cave. You may have seen some extravagant home bars on television or in movies and thought to yourself, “that’s too rich for my blood”. However, you can have your very own home bar for a reasonable price by cutting out the more luxurious components and bringing it back to basics. At its core, a home bar should consist of the spirits and drinks that you enjoy, as well as the accessories you need to enjoy them properly.

Things to drink

The most obvious thing that you need is alcohol. Without it, your bar is just a collection of cool glasses and mixing equipment. Since you want to be prepared for the varying tastes that your guests may have, you should go with a range of whiskeys, scotches, vodka, gin, rum, beers and a seemingly endless stream of other essential spirits. Now that you have the ingredients, the other things you’ll want to focus on include specialized glassware, bartending equipment, and some aesthetic touches.

Things to drink out of

There are two main types of glassware for a typical bar; one for drinks and the other for ingredients. To cover the basics for both, every bar should start with at least a few of the following:

glasses

  • Whiskey Glasses – These glasses are versatile, can also be used for scotches and bourbons, and are necessary for a number of specialty mixed drinks
  • Beer Glasses – When it comes to beer, many styles require a special glass to enhance the flavor and aroma, here are a few examples along with the beer(s) they should be used with.
    • Tulip – Belgians, Imperial IPAs and Sour beers
    • Weizen – Wheat beers (American, German, etc.)
    • Shaker Pint – Pretty much any style, but is best reserved for your BudMillerCoors drinking friends
  • Mason Jars – Easy to find and perfect for storing things like simple syrups and alcohol infused fruit

In all seriousness, if you can’t invest in dozens of different beer glasses, shaker pints will work well with most styles. If you decide to go with standard pint glasses, you can at least add some personality to them by picking up a personalized set.

Things to make drinks with

It’s not all about glassware when it comes to a home bar, it’s also about the tools of the trade.  A well-prepared bar is what separates the boys from the men. You never want to be asked for a drink order and be caught off guard. The most immediate image in people’s minds when they think of bartending is usually the stainless-steel shaker with strainer and maybe a muddler (used to mash fruit, herbs and spices in order to release their flavor); however, jiggers (used for measuring small amounts of liquor), bar spoons, whiskey stones (keeps the drink cool without watering it down) and an ice bucket are equally as important. These tools will provide you with everything that you need to raise your craft to a professional level.

A place for all your things

The final and most important task to tackle is how to set-up or build the bar itself. It won’t do you much good to simply have all of these items sitting around your kitchen, you need to give them a home. A simple solution is to convert one of the cabinets you already have in your house. This is done by adding shelves and drawers into the space available, creating a secret storage unit that fits in perfectly with your other furniture. Using mirrored glass for shelving is always a nice touch, and including special napkins and towels can really impress your guests. For those who would prefer a more permanent setup and aren’t afraid of using a few power tools, you can easily craft your own bar using a set of DIY plans.

Remember, the goal of setting up your own home bar is to create a space where you can relax and enjoy spending time with family and friends. This is a chance for you to be creative and have fun with the process, which will make the final product that much more enjoyable.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Guest Post: How to create and stock your own home bar

  1. Roger

    I disagree with the glassware. If you’re only going to have one type of glass, don’t make it the dull shaker pint; make it a snifter. You can pick up a case of Libbey 9 oz. snifters for $60 or so. The 9 oz will be a bit small for beer, but will be able to be used for whiskey as well. If you have the choice of a few types of glassware, snifters then the newer hybrid mix of a tulip/snifter (like the one here: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yAOaw2ipmQo/UXgGJpA-iyI/AAAAAAAAAYY/sEfv0UUXELE/s640/happyamber.jpg) then Glencairn glasses for whiskey. Weizen glasses are nice, but you’re only using them for one style of beer so they’re pretty far down the list of reasonable glassware to own. Pick up some nice small bowl wine glasses (for whites and beer) then some slightly larger bowl wine glasses for the wine drinkers, too.

    Drop by the thrift store for some vintage cocktail glasses. Go with 3-4 oz. glasses (like these: http://i-cdn.apartmenttherapy.com/uimages/kitchen/2011_01_21-MartiniManhattan.jpg) not those huge ridiculous glasses that are commonly sold today.

    I like the mason jar idea. You can pick them up at the grocery store and homemade ingredients are cheaper and frequently better. Don’t forget to pick up a few bitters as well: Peychaud’s, Orange bitters, and Angostura are all you’ll need for 99% of cocktails – and they’re not prohibitively expensive. Kroger has angostura, but you’ll have to go to Party Source (or other beverage store) for Peychaud’s and orange bitters).

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