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Drink in Style - How to Set Up Your Own Home Bar

Ludlow Trunk Bar Cabinet Wicker Paradise

When it comes to your home, atmosphere is important. But when it comes to your liquor cabinet, function usually trumps form, with the liquor tucked away at the back of a cupboard and the mixers scattered throughout the kitchen. Alcohol consumption is one of the oldest and most revered pastimes of humanity, so why not treat it with the respect it deserves? Put your booze in the limelight and set up your very own home bar.

To begin with, you'll need the bar itself. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on a marble-topped sideboard – any small free-standing cabinet or flat-topped table will do. You'll also need somewhere to put your bar. When choosing a location, consider what you'll be using the bar for. If you just want a sophisticated station for making the occasional post-work drink, the dining room or even a hallway would work. But if you entertain guests often and want to indulge in a bit of home bartending, consider placing the bar in a high-traffic area such as the living room or (if it's large enough) the kitchen.

The next step is outfitting your new bar with the required equipment. Think about what kind of drinks you like to make, and what equipment is necessary to make them. At a minimum, you should have a cocktail shaker, a long-handled bar spoon, an ice bucket and a jigger (a small double-sided measuring tool used for portioning liquor). Depending on your preferred drinks, you may need more specialized equipment, such as an absinthe spoon, a strainer or a muddler. It's also a good idea to keep a cocktail recipe book near your bar for reference.

In addition to your equipment for mixing drinks, you'll need glassware to serve them in. Most popular cocktails are traditionally associated with a specific type of glassware. Short cocktails or straight spirits are often served in "lowball" or "old-fashioned" glasses (short tumblers that typically hold 6 to 10 ounces). For taller cocktails, you'll want "highball" glasses (taller tumblers of 8 to 12 ounces) or "collins" glasses (taller than highball glasses, they usually hold 10 to 14 ounces). Other drinks such as martinis and manhattans are served in "cocktail" glasses, stemmed glassware with a conical bowl set on top (usually holding 4.5 ounces). Finally, you'll want a few of the ever-popular shot glasses, which are useful for adding measures of liquor to cocktails, or creating small "shooter" cocktails (or for doing shots!).

Finally, no bar is complete without a stock of liquor. Again, your drink preference dictates the number and types of liquor you keep. If you hate peach schnapps, and don't know anybody that likes it, feel free to leave it out of your collection! That said, it's a good idea to stock most or all of the basic liquors, depending on how often you serve guests. You will want to get whiskey (possibly in multiple variations such as bourbon or rye), rum, tequila, gin and vodka, plus any specialty spirits or liqueurs you enjoy. In addition to your liquor, your bar should have a supply of mixers, non- or low-alcoholic ingredients used to spice up your cocktails. Common mixers include plain soda, tonic, various fruit juices, sour mix, simple syrup and cocktail bitters (a herbal liqueur used in many savory cocktails).

Whether you want a small, private bar for whipping up an evening cocktail to relax with, or a fully-stocked bar that acts as the centerpiece of your epic parties, a well-kept home bar is a definite mark.

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