There's something indulgent in an elegant home bar. In sunny weather you can whip up an Aperol spritz and sit on the patio for a sundowner, or in the winter a stiff martini or whisky sour can add a sense of cosiness to a winter evening. Cocktails are easy things to make if you have the right kit, yet provide almost the same satisfaction as cooking an elaborate meal. Setting up a home bar, however low-maintenance, can add to the sense of occasion and keep all your supplies, from the essential bottles to beautiful glassware, neatly stored in one space. A home bar is something that can be done at varying levels of commitment, from a full wet bar to just a dedicated space on a bookshelf. No matter what your budget or the amount of space you have, you're sure to be able to find a way to set up a stylish home bar.
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The wet bar
If you're truly dedicated to cocktail making (and have the space), a wet bar might be the way to go. There's a distinctly retro, 1970s feel to a wet bar, associated with frozen piña coladas and rattan furniture, but since we happen to love frozen piña coladas and rattan furniture, perhaps it's time to bring the bar back. Basement rooms are perfect for bars; they can be suitably dark and glamorous, and take on a speakeasy feel as you descend to them in the evenings. You'll want to take advantage of the space, with electrical points, a sink, and preferably a fridge and freezer for chilling wine, frosting glasses, and keeping ice, an absolute essential for all cocktails. Create enough space at the front of the space for bar stools, and install shelving at the back for displaying glasses and bottles. Your guests won't ever want to leave.
The alcove bar
If you have a spare alcove in a dining room, living room or kitchen, this can be a great place to set up a small bar, with cabinets at the bottom, a work surface on top, and shelving above. You can give the alcove special lighting to draw the eye to it on a dark evening, and splash out on a beautiful worktop since it's such a small space. A pretty tray can be a lovely way to keep bottles organised, and if you're not in immediate proximity to the kitchen, make sure you have a champagne bucket to keep things chilled.
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The cabinet bar
A cabinet or sideboard in a living or dining room can form a very low-maintenance bar, with a generous surface on top where you can make your creations, and the cabinet itself forming storage for any bottles or glasses you don't want to leave out. Make sure you have a non-scruffy chopping board that can live on top for cutting lemons and limes and containing spills, and get yourself a generous ice bucket so you don't have to keep running backwards and forwards to the kitchen.
The bar cart
If you have a corner spare, you can't beat a bar cart for an elegant, tempting display of cocktail kit. The bar cart has been having a serious renaissance since the days of Mad Men, and they come in every possible style, from Soane Britain's glorious gold 'Nuryev' trolley to the affordable, colourful Råskog cart from IKEA, without which no apartment kitchen seems complete.
The bookshelf bar
In a small space, a generous set of shelves can be a lifesaver, allowing space to store and display everything from books to ornaments. Wide, open shelving units can make excellent bars – keep your bottles and glasses at mid-height and absolutely make sure you have a tray to keep things together and prevent any bottle marks on the shelf itself.
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