Whether you're putting together an office space or a movie theater in your home, you want it to be filled with all the necessary accessories. For example, the staples of a home theater are plenty of seating and a big screen television, while your office should have a desk, a comfortable chair, paper supplies and your work computer. The same goes for every other room, too, from your kitchen or bathroom to your home bar.
No matter your level of interest, your home bar should contain more than just the alcohol you plan to serve. This guide from Deep South Barrels includes suggestions for everyone, from casual enthusiasts to experienced mixologists. With these accessories, your bar will be stocked with all the essentials and then some!
The perfect place to start is what you'll be pouring your drinks into: glasses. You may prefer a beer or two at the end of a long day or drink wine straight from your own personal bottle, but you still need to keep some glassware around. At the least, you should have enough glasses to sustain your average social gathering without having to wash more.
There are different glasses for every type of liquor. Part of it is for presentation, but it's also about the taste and temperature of each specific drink. For instance, you use stemware for wine or martinis so the warmth of your hand won't affect your cold drink. Even beer glasses have variations in size and shape - for preserving the foam on top, displaying what type of beer is served inside or enhancing the shade of your brew.
Here are just a few examples of the glasses you could store in your bar:
- Wine glasses
- Champagne flutes
- Old-fashioned glasses
- Martini glasses
- Margarita glasses
- Beer pints, mugs, steins and more
If you're a beer aficionado, you'll want to branch out from mugs and pint glasses, bringing home goblets, weizen glasses, snifters and other specialized glassware. Also be sure to have a few sampler glasses around, as they're a great way for your friends to try a new kind of beer without having to commit to a pint.
Keep in mind that mixed drinks and home brews are two totally different animals. Tumblers are truly the all-purpose glass, so if nothing else, you should have several of those. If wine is your social group's beverage of choice or you love a margarita on hot summer days, take that into consideration when shopping for certain quantities of glassware. Personalized mugs can be a lot of fun to add to your collection, commemorating events or displaying places you've traveled. Oh, and don't forget the shot glasses!
2. Containers and Dispensers
Some kinds of alcohol are best served in specific containers. For instance, decanters aren't for just any liquor. Using a decanter will aerate wine as you're pouring, and the addition of a bit of oxygen really opens up the flavor. Serving whiskey, cognac or brandy out of a decanter looks classier and more sophisticated than from its original bottle. In this case, it's all about the presentation.
Sangria, spritzers, mojitos or cocktails are perfect for serving in pitchers. They're sweet, delicious drinks that everyone enjoys, and nothing is lost when they're kept in such a large quantity as opposed to individual glasses. Some sort of dispenser, whether it's a glass container or a keg, works well for your favorite standalone drink. Fill it up with beer, vodka, tequila or other spirits. Dispensers and decanters can be customized, so definitely do some research online to see all the creative options out there.
3. Storage Space
When your home bar is fully stocked with your alcohol of choice, you're going to need somewhere to stash it. Floating shelves or the space underneath the bar just won't cut it, especially if it's something that needs to be kept cold or organized in a particular way. You should consider investing in a second refrigerator or dedicated beverage cooler, and you should definitely get a liquor cabinet.
Purchasing and arranging a liquor cabinet will make your life much easier if you plan to use your home bar frequently. Group drinks by category - gin, liqueurs, mixers and so on - with half-empty bottles in the front and unopened ones in the back. It'll be much easier on you to find what you and your guests want, and preparing cocktails will be less of a challenge as well.
Many people collect their wine bottles together on a rack, but there are also wine cellars out there that can house them at whatever temperature you choose. Some stores even offer dual-zone wine chillers for storing whites and reds at different temperatures. Beverage centers or freezerless refrigerators are fantastic for holding your supply of beer, hard cider, alcoholic soda and other fizzy drinks.
4. Brewing Kits and Aging Barrels
Drinking while socializing can be enjoyable, whether it's a few beers with your coworkers or showing off a cocktail recipe you learned for your friends. However, if you want take things to the next level and brew or age your own liquor at home, you need the proper equipment.
Plenty of places provide homebrew starter kits that they packaged themselves, giving amateurs the best chance for good results their first time brewing. These kits typically include:
- A fermenter
- A brew kettle
- A bucket and spigot
- Cleaning supplies for keeping the assembly sanitary
- Handheld tools
If you've never done it before, don't be discouraged if your first few attempts come out tasting strange or don't resemble beer at all. After all, practice makes perfect!
Whiskey tastes wonderful on its own, but there's just something about the aging process that really refines it. Storing whiskey in American Oak aging barrels affects everything about it - the taste, the aroma and even the color. There's a lot of chemical interaction going on behind the scenes, but it goes without saying that the character of your whiskey will have totally changed after a few years in an oak barrel.
Unlike other woods, oak is a purer variety, so it won't pass along strong flavors as your liquor matures. A 2 liter mini oak barrel would be ideal for your home bar setup, but a 5 liter oak barrel would also do the trick if you want to age more at one time. No matter what spirits you want to age, whether it's whiskey or something else entirely, small oak barrels are the way to go.
5. Ways to Keep Things Cold
As we touched on earlier, certain drinks are poured into stemware glasses because that's the best way to keep them cold longer. Ice is nice, but not for every beverage out there. Here are a couple tips on accessories to purchase so your guests always have chilly drinks.
Martinis contain ice shards, and margaritas are made up of crushed ice, but many other drinks feature full cubes. Whatever the case may be, it's handy to have an ice bucket or two around. You could go for any old metal bucket or one with insulation, and make sure to throw a good scoop or pair of tongs inside. Then when you're hosting an event, all you have to remember is to turn up the production on your ice maker or buy a bag of ice beforehand.
As the temperature begins to climb, however, ice will melt and quickly water down your drink. That's why people have started turning to the magic of whiskey stones. With whiskey disks for your home bar, you just have to pop them in the freezer before the party, and they will maintain their coldness throughout the evening. While stones are commonly used for chilling whiskey, they can also be dropped in other drinks, such as vodka and rum.
Other accessories you might consider are beer koozies, especially if you're planning to round up your crew to watch the big game, or covers to slip over wine bottles. Don't worry about looking silly - all of these solutions are about being practical and enabling you to enjoy a refreshing drink long after it was served.
6. Ways to Keep Things Clean
Like your mother always said, you should get out a coaster before setting down your glass. Coasters may seem overrated or too fussy, but if you're having guests over, they're a cheap and easy way to prevent most messes. There are even specialized stone coasters out there that will chill your beer for you, much like whiskey disks.
The other essential item that will keep your home bar clean is a bar mat. They may not seem necessary, either, but they can actually be a godsend. Bar mats will contain spills, hold wet glasses and generally protect the bar area. It's beyond simple to lift them up and empty them into the sink at the end of the night. Such a chore is definitely preferable to soaking up drips and condensation from the tabletop. Custom bar mats for your home bar are also a way to show off your favorite brands.
7. Tools of the Trade
Much like a repairman needs his toolbox or a photographer needs her camera bag, a home bar requires a few standard items for mixing drinks. Whether you're an amateur bartender or a master mixologist, you'll want to have these tools available.
First on the list are a bottle opener and corkscrew. After all, you can't mix or serve drinks if you can't even open them! Many people with home bars choose to invest in a wall-mounted bottle opener for the convenience of their guests. Also topping the list is a cocktail shaker. It's the best way to ensure the alcohol and its accompanying ingredients are mixed just right. If you plan to garnish drinks with limes or lemons, you'll need a knife, a zester and a strainer to help you accomplish complex flavor profiles.
Some tools out there you may not be as familiar with, like jiggers or muddlers, but they both can play a huge role in the success of your mixed drinks. For those who don't know, jiggers are to mixology as measuring spoons are to baking. In both cases, precision is key, and the use of a jigger represents care in crafting a cocktail. Jiggers are durable and easy to fit between your fingers for steady pouring. Most double jiggers come in one ounce and half-ounce measurements, but some on the market have increments marked on the side for more accurate measuring.
A muddler is a tool similar to a pestle, used to crush cocktail ingredients in the bottom of a glass. In the past they only came in wood, but now they're made with plastic, stainless steel and other materials. Muddlers provide a way to blend flavors better, such as those in an old-fashioned or mojito. Just remember to smash everything up before you put the ice in, or you'll risk diluting the drink.
Some products you'll find contain all these tools and more, like a Swiss army knife for your home bar. There are also premade home bar starter kits for sale, which usually include many of the staples you'll need, such as a shaker, pair of tongs, measuring jigger, ice strainer, bottle opener and a handful of cocktail recipes.
8. Extra Accessories
A smattering of other accessories you might be interested in include a tray for garnishes or snacks, a sparkling water dispenser and a blender. After all, you need somewhere to keep all those lime slices, lemon wedges, peanuts and pretzels. Sparkling water makers can be standalone or installed inside refrigerators. In any case, they can be quite useful in certain mixes. Then of course, blenders are a requirement for making frozen drinks such as daiquiris, margaritas or adult lemonade. Give it a spin for alcoholic milkshakes, and you'll really have a treat!
9. Recipes or References
For those without much experience at mixing drinks, or anyone who wants to discover new cocktail ideas, some sort of reference book would be immensely helpful. You could get a cookbook packed with recipes, but for even more assistance you might want to lean toward a bartender's guide. It will give you dozens of concoctions to choose from as well as lessons on techniques and tool recommendations.
Last but not least, you should pick up a few decorations. You don't want your home bar to remain bare and plain - give it a little personality! We're talking more than neon signs or a line of custom beer mugs on display, too. Don't be afraid to get creative.
For example, you could put up a beer cap map of your state as a way to showcase all of the varieties you or your guests have tried. Make it a point of pride to fill the thing up! If you're a frequent traveler, maybe you can get a map of the entire country for your discarded caps.
Your interior design choices largely depend on the aesthetic you want. The wall hangings or artwork you would choose to convey a classic pub feel are totally different than those in an upscale bar, an old school rock 'n roll joint or a ladies' lounge. From a jukebox and record sleeves to planters that look like wooden barrels, there's something out there for everyone's taste. Tap into yours and see what scheme you come up with!
Start Building Your Home Bar
While not everyone may be able to afford complex renovations or expensive new appliances, anyone can pick up a few tools and a reference book to feel like a bartender right at home. You don't have to be an expert to brew beer, age liquor or mix drinks from the comfort of your house. Hobbyists and amateurs can invest in a few items and begin experimenting right away!
There's no better place to purchase the products you need for your home bar than Deep South Barrels. From oak barrels and barrel accessories to whiskey disks and custom bar mats, we have it all. We offer good quality at a reasonable price - perfect for those just starting out on aging whiskey or preparing cocktails. Shop our selection of oak aging barrels today!