How to Build an Arcade Cocktail Cabinet

Written by skyler mccloud
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How to Build an Arcade Cocktail Cabinet
A cocktail cabinet makes a great addition to a home bar. (beer image by Mat Hayward from

Homemade arcade cabinets provide gamers with a nostalgic kick. Often featuring hundreds or even thousands of games in a single MAME (multiple arcade machine emulation) unit, making one of these cabinets yourself can save thousands of dollars. There are a variety of different ways to make arcade cabinets, including traditional stand-up units, sit-down racing units and bartop units. One variation is the cocktail cabinet, which is a table with a screen in the centre of it and controllers around it. It is called a cocktail cabinet because the table is perfect for resting a drink on while gaming.

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Things you need

  • Cabinet kit
  • Computer
  • Monitor
  • Controller

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  1. 1

    Find an arcade cabinet kit that suits your needs. Cocktail units can be purchased from sites like Mameroom and Dreamarcades for a few hundred dollars, or roughly what the raw materials would cost if you bought them from a store. Kits also frequently contain specialised parts that can't be purchased from hardware stores, such as coin grates or lighted gaming marquees. Constructing kits can be a good bit of work but are by far the best way to produce a sturdy, usable cabinet for this unique purpose.

  2. 2

    Decide whether you'd like to purchase controllers or create your own. Either option will cost around £130, but creating your own requires a significant amount of electrical know-how. To do it, order trackballs, joysticks and buttons and wire them to a motherboard, and then place that on the dash on the cocktail cabinet. Good pre-made controllers for homemade arcade units can be ordered from companies such as X-Arcade and SlikStik.

  3. 3

    Insert the PC in the arcade cabinet and wire the controllers in as its input. Now place the monitor in the cabinet face up and finish it by sealing the plastic cover in place (this protects the hardware in the event of a spilt drink). Make sure that before you do this the PC is fully equipped with MAME software. There are literally hundreds of options here, but free legal software can be found at

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