March 10, 2023

How to Set Up a Swanky At-Home Bar

Get ready to say cheers with these at-home bar tips & tricks!

Creating the perfect home bar can add a touch of class to your entertaining. Whether you want to craft cocktails for your friends or just have some delicious libations on hand, setting up a home bar is a great way to show off your hosting skills.

Not sure where to start? Not to worry! In this guide, the Cabinet Chic will provide all the guidance you need for designing and stocking an at-home bar that will impress your guests.

custom bright white under stair bar area
Credit: Riki Snyder  

Become the Host with the Most: Setting up an At-Home Bar

For many of us, a home bar is the stuff of dreams. Whether you're looking for an entertainment space to impress your guests or a spot to relax and unwind after a long week, having a beautiful bar right in your living room can add something special to your home.  

If you're ready to take the plunge and create the perfect home bar, follow these design tips!  

#1. Choose a Location

First things first, consider where you entertain the most and designate an area for your home bar setup.  

Choose an area where you plan to entertain so you don’t have to leave the party when making drinks.

To ensure that you are always part of the action, consider the living room, dining area, or right off the kitchen.  

arched bar cabinet with wood and blue accents
Credit: Vivian Johnson

#2. Plan Storage

Storage is key to a functional at-home bar. You will need a place to store bar tools, equipment, and of course your favorite spirits and mixers.

Set the scene with a combination of open shelving and cabinetry so you can display beautiful glassware or bottles and tuck away useful but less eye-catching pieces.  

Built-ins work great for both smaller and larger spaces allowing you to maximize storage space.  

  • Choose from various sizes and styles of cabinets such as floor-to-ceiling or glass-front cabinets.  

  • Don’t forget about drawers to store utensils and gadgets.

  • For a modern look, incorporate sleek open shelving into your design plan.  

  • If you’re aiming for a more traditional feel, consider solid wood doors with antique hardware accents.  

With custom built-in cabinetry, you get the perfect blend of customization and functionality that will give you a place to store everything while still looking neat and organized.

liquor bottles and glasses backlit in home bar

#3. Select Your Spirits, Liqueurs, & Mixers

When it comes to selecting spirits, liquor, and mixers for your at-home bar it’s important to consider the types of drinks that you like and the type of entertaining you do. You don’t need every single spirit out there; just pick a few classic options that will suit your needs.  

Most bars should have vodka or gin as their base spirit. You can also include whiskey or tequila if they fit better with your style of entertaining.

Next, add a small selection of mixers and liqueurs such as:

  • Dry & sweet vermouth
  • Bitters: you can’t craft a proper Old-Fashioned without them!
  • Orange liqueur
  • Juices, cola, club soda, and tonic water for mixing  
custom wine cellar and bar by the Cabinet Chic

#4. Red or White: Don't Forget the Wine!

Now, we can’t forget about the wine! Having different types of wine on hand – like reds, whites, sparkling wines, or rosé – means that everyone can find something they enjoy.  

A cabinet with closing doors will work for storing most wines, but if you are collecting and storing long-term, a custom wine cellar or wine room complete with racks and a wine chiller is optimal.  

Inspiration for Wine Connoisseurs > Stunning Wine Cellar Ideas

#5. Choose Proper Glassware, Then Showcase It

From Moscow Mules and Manhattans to the perfect glass of wine, having the right glassware for your drinks is essential for any successful bar setup.  

P.S. Glasses make a nice-looking focal point in your home bar, so don’t be afraid to show them off. We love glass front cabinets for this. You’ll see all your pretty glassware, but it will be protected from dust!

custom teal bar in nook between rooms
Credit: Swati Goorha / Mike Van Tassel

#6. Keep Things Cool

Chilling spirits like vodka, gin, and whiskey is not a requirement, but even so, a slight chill can offer a more pleasing drinking experience.

If your space allows, consider adding a small built-in bar refrigerator, kegerator, or wine chiller to amp up the luxury factor.

But even if you forgo refrigeration, you will still want ice nearby for mixing drinks. Make sure you have an ice maker to cool cocktails or an ice bucket handy for chilling wine.  

#7. Finalize with Gadgets & Finishing Touches

You don’t need to be an experienced mixologist to craft delicious drinks, but having the right tools in on hand can help you craft the most delicious cocktails on the block. Make sure to have:  

  • Shaker
  • Strainer
  • Jigger or measuring cup
  • Pitcher
  • Bar spoon  

Don’t forget to add a few garnishes to complement the drinks such as springs of mint or rosemary, olives, citrus slices, or maraschino cherries.  

P.S. We can build a custom bar complete with drawers for all of your bar gadgets and utensils so you’ll always be ready for entertaining!

More Inspiration > What to Consider When Designing an At-Home Bar

dark stained wood at-home bar with liquor bottles and glasses

Turn Entertaining into an Art Form

Few things are more inviting than having a place in your home where people can gather, chat, and enjoy each other's company. Your entertaining takes on an entirely new level when you incorporate a built-in bar into your space!  

Ready to get started? Reach out to Miriam Johnson, the Cabinet Chic, to start designing an at-home bar that will have you and your guests saying, “Cheers!”. Your home will soon be an entertainer’s dream – the perfect hosting spot for celebrations to come.

Featured Image credit: Katie Fiedler

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