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Home Bar: Cocktails at Your Place

Your home is your haven, so why not take it to the next level with a DIY home bar? You might have something to celebrate like finishing your spring cleaning or relocating to a new city. Perhaps it’s just been a long, stressful day.

A DIY home bar is a great way to liven up your space, and it will create a fun atmosphere to impress your friends and welcome guests. Best of all, a DIY home bar is easier to pull off than you think. All you need is some basic bar knowledge and a few tips from us.

Basic Set-up and Tools

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The area for your DIY home bar needs enough counter space for mixing drinks and gathering with guests, as well as having a bit of room for storage. Also, you’ll want to stock up on essential elements such as ice, glassware, liquor, and mixers.

Necessary tools:

  • An ice scoop
  • A martini shaker with strainer
  • Bottle opener
  • Wine opener
  • Small cutting board and knife
  • A jigger for easy measuring
  • Straws

Optional Extras:

  • A muddler
  • A blender for frozen drinks
  • A hand-operated or electric juicer
  • Ice bucket
  • Pour spouts – pour like a pro

Pro Tip: If counter space is a no-go at your place, a rolling bar cart is a helpful solution for your DIY Home Bar. You can re-purpose an old night stand or small entertainment center with a sand and stain, or find a vintage cart at a thrift store. While you are there, pick up some vintage glasses and decanters to take the retro vibe full-circle at a fraction of the price.

Glassware:

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The Wide-Mouth Stemless Wine Glass

Home bars don’t often have the luxury of ample space for storage, so streamline your glassware with pieces that stack well or double up for more than one drink.

For instance, you only need one type of wine glass. A wide-mouth stemless wine glass will allow reds to breathe while keep whites tasting crisp. Additionally, they work for mixed drinks, sangria, cordials, and craft beers with nice aromas. So these will cover most of your glassware needs right here.

The Pilsner Glass

Any DIY home bar needs a taller glass for beer-lovers. These glasses are also great for frozen drinks and morning brunch favorites like Bloody Mary’s. (The advantage of a home bar is enjoying these while still wearing PJ’s.)

The Martini Glass

Martini glasses are sexy, unique and essential. Bonus points if you can keep them chilled before serving. They are fun to accent with classic or creative rims, and convey a festive feel for your DIY home bar.

The Champagne Glass

This delicate fluted glass is a must-have for bubbly. It maximizes fizziness and fun, so don’t skip a champagne glass in your DIY home bar. Always keep a modestly priced bottle chilled for those spontaneous celebrations.

Basic Spirits:

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Now that you’ve got your DIY bar tools ready, it’s time to decide which liquors to have on hand. In every respectable bar there are 5 main spirits in the well:

Vodka

Vodka’s neutral flavor gives you the most flexibility to make sweet, savory, fruity or creamy concoctions. Vodka is an overall crowd-pleaser, the chameleon in the cocktail realm.

Gin

Vodka’s flowery, more aromatic cousin. Cucumber gins are on trend because the cool, slightly-sweet vegetable mellows the burn of the spirit a bit. An acquired taste for some and not an essential for you.

Rum

Think of any drink with an umbrella in it, and we guarantee there’s rum in there somewhere. Novice drinkers often prefer cocktails with a sweeter profile to mask the burn, so this is another smart spirit to keep on hand.

Tequila

Tequila’s iconic flavor cannot be duplicated or replaced. It is a must-have for classics like the Margarita, Paloma and Tequila Sunrise.

Whiskey (Bourbon, Scotch)

These brown liquors are distilled with either corn or rye. Their processes differ, but what remains the same is a distinct sweet/sour flavor that some adore and others detest. It’s your call whether it’s a necessary buy.

Mixing and Garnishing Drinks
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In order to call your space a DIY home bar, you need more than just liquor. It’s the combination of mixers and garnishes that usher you into the world of mixology.  Here are the basics for playing bartender like a pro.

Liqueurs: Flavored liqueurs provide some complexity to your cocktails and are easily enjoyed alone. Consider citrus liqueurs for Cosmos and Margaritas, a coffee or chocolate flavor for after-dinner drinks, and a berry flavor to add variety to champagne, martinis and tropical drinks.

Fruit Juices: The acid and sugar in juices conceal the burn from alcohol on the tongue. Lemon, orange, and cranberry can go along way for a DIY bar.

Sodas: Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale and soda water should cover you. Single bottles or cans reduce the chances of the bubbles going flat.

Premade Mixers: Add variety, yet keep it simple on the mixology side. Grab some standard mixers like Margarita, Bloody Mary, and Mojito. Hint: Doctor them up with freshly squeezed lime, your favorite hot sauce, and fresh mint.

Garnishing: Keep lemons, limes, oranges and a jar of cherries nearby for basic garnishes. After dinner drinks look great with just a swirl of whipped cream. Martinis look elegant with a twisted lemon peel or rock sugar rim. Here are more garnishing tips to try.

Pro-Tip: Always pack your glass to the rim with ice. The liquor you add next (from the standard recipe) will burn the ice down and leave the perfect ratio of room left for the mixers. In a 12 oz. glass, it will be just right every time.

Décor
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Now that your DIY home bar is in place and you’ve mastered a few cocktails, it’s time to add to the bar atmosphere. You don’t have to spend much to pull in your personal style and flare, whether you’re designing a chic ladies retreat or a marvelous man-cave. Any thrift store bar stool can transform with a paint job and reupholstering. Invest in a light-up neon marker board or order some cute personalized napkins to wow your friends and family.

Pro Décor Tip: Set up your bar in a way that displays your spirit, wine and beer options for your guests. It serves as a visual menu and doubles as décor. Check out these amazingly creative options to up-cycle bottles for decorating your DIY home bar.

Enjoy Responsibly

Enjoy the spoils of your DIY home bar, but take some precaution too. Even though you’ve eliminated a drive and are saving on going out, you should still remain aware of your intake. Chase each adult beverage with a glass of water and have some food in your stomach. Since you worked so hard mixing up killer cocktails, give your friends the go-ahead to whip something up in the kitchen. Warning: don’t expect them to leave any time soon.