Cocktail bars are a good thing to have if you do a lot of entertaining, or just want to pretend you are classy fellow/lady from a movie like Down With Love. Setting up a cocktail bar in your home can be easy or difficult, depending on how complex you want to make it. You can have a simple collection of bottles and accessories or a full wet bar.
The classic standby is a liquor cabinet. A standalone cabinet, with some ornate wood or metal work and a glass door to see the pretty bottles, is classy without being dominating. You can store liquors, mixers and all the equipment (shakers, snifters and strainers) in a good-sized cabinet. If you already have kitchen cabinets you can use one of them to save money and keep from seeming ostentatious.
Using a cart for your bar both gives you some mobility and a casual air. You can buy a cart that is specifically made for the purpose or use an existing one. A good liquor cart will have at least three shelves and be easy to push. Some are open, some have doors and others have specific shelves for certain kinds of bottles and glasses. Depending on what you want to use the cart for, and whether you actually plan on moving it around, choose a lighter or more ornate cart.
A wet bar is akin to what you would see at an actual bar. Building one of these will require having some extra space and some plumbing knowledge. If you have a furnished basement, a wet bar can be a good addition. A wet bar can also fit in a seldom used closet or nook. You will need to install a sink (the wet part) which may change where you want to place the bar, depending on the plumbing.
Good-looking finished wood, like mahogany, is a classic choice for a bar top, but metal can work just as well. Found materials, like sections from an old bowling alley, can give your bar a unique feel. Installing shelving behind or under the bar can give you space to store bottles and glasses. With a full wet bar you can also consider installing a kegerator (a fridge that stores kegs of beer) and taps to enjoy beer.
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