Cheers! It’s the weekend, which means many of us have gotten through a full week of working from home. Now that calls for a little celebration, doesn’t it? If you’re social distancing (which you should be!), you’re not hitting the bars this weekend (please don’t). No matter: We’ve tapped some experts in design and mixology for advice on how to stock and style your home bar. Plan a Facetime happy hour with your friends, and get mixing.
“Don’t feel pressured to stock every last fancy schmancy liqueur or bitter,” says Roxy Owens, founder of Society Social. All you need are a few quality spirits to make the classics, a good set of cocktail tools (lime squeezer, muddler, strainer, mixing tin) and some interesting glassware.”
If you have none of these tools—and aren’t able to procure them right now—no worries: Squeeze the lime by hand (just wash them for 20 seconds first!), use the end of a wooden spoon as a muddler, a measuring or espresso cup as a jigger, and a large sturdy glass for mixing.
If your local liquor store is still delivering, stock supplies for a transporting cocktail. “To really simplify matters of home entertaining, I recommend that you have a go-to house specialty,” advises David Alan, Director of Mixology at Patrón. “This is your signature drink that you always have the ingredients for. At my house it is the Perfect Patrón Margarita—Patrón reposado, Patrón Citrónge Orange, and fresh lime juice.”
Missing an ingredient for that perfect cocktail and can’t get to the grocery store? “Think about drinks recipes more as guidelines and not so much as strict instructions,” Alan advises. “First think about what the ingredient is trying to do in the cocktail and don’t get too hung up on using the exact thing that is specified. For example, lemons can be used in place of limes in sour cocktails, and a lemon Margarita is as delicious as a lime Margarita, if less classic. Experiment! Especially in challenging times, it is sometimes necessary to get creative—usually even the ‘mistakes’ taste good, and your new discovery may taste better than the original.”
Decorate your bar zone
It’s not all about the alcohol (yes, we said it!). Just take it from Jonathan Adler—potter, designer, and all-around style maven—who has designed several bar carts. “Go beyond the booze,” Adler urges. “Don’t confine yourself to conventional bar accoutrements.” This is especially useful advice at a time when shopping options might be limited—and even if you don’t have an actual cart. You can still set up a fun bar area by placing items from around the house, like photos, plants, and decorative objects on a shelf side table with your loveliest glassware.
“I’m a teatotaller, but I use my bar cart (from my collab with Peroni, natch) as a library/picture frame zone,” Adler says. “And I keep my teapot on it cuz it’s always time for a cuppa.”
Owens recommends decorating your bar area with “non-alcoholic decor like fresh flowers, small lamps, artwork, trays, coffee table books, and glassware. Garnishes and lemons or limes are also a great way to add a pop of color. Cloth cocktail napkins are a small touch that can go a long way and something you might already have at home that can be reused.”
“Organization is key to having a perfectly curated and visually balanced bar,” advises Owens. “Use trays to help you divide things into zones and dedicate each zone to a specific essential, whether it’s glassware, bottles, or your own brass menagerie. This keeps its contents neat and together. Style your smaller accessories like stirrers, straws, bottle openers, and wine stoppers in decorative bowls.”
Adler and Owens agree that the best home bars go beyond just storage for booze and become places to express yourself with decor. “As functional as a bar cart may be, it should also be a reflection of your personality,” says Owens. “Don’t hesitate to include those quirky elements that make your design aesthetic unique.”
We’ll raise a glass (of cocktail or tea) to that!