Wednesday, July 25, 2012
HOW TO: create a home bar
When it comes to home decor, I'm all about mixing old with new. Our home is an eclectic mix of antiques and new items; I feel like it adds character to what I would otherwise consider a character-less home. (It was built in the early 90's, after all.)
One of my latest decor obsessions is the bar cart. After seeing bar carts featured on style blogs like Glitter Guide and Cupcakes and Cashmere, I set out to recreate something similar in my own home--using as many existing items as possible. Luckily, I already had the basics: lots of alcohol and an antique piece of furniture.
Instead of a cart, I used this beautiful antique sewing cabinet that has a marble slab on top. It was a hand-me-down from my parents. Best of all, it is the perfect size for this little space in our open-concept dining room.
If you're going to set up a bar in your home, here are six key elements:
1. An interesting print or photo: I bought this two-sided page from a 1950's veterinary textbook on Etsy for $5. The other side shows the muscular structure of the horse, so I found this side just a bit more pleasant. Maybe I'll flip it around for Halloween or to scare small children who come near the bar.
2. A vintage decanter: I found this leaded glass decanter in a local antique mall. It weighs about 5 pounds (yes, I actually weighed it) and came with this beautiful vintage GIN Stieff Pewter decanter label. The decanter itself is lovely, but in all honesty, this pewter label was the main reason I bought it. Stieff Pewter is no longer in business, but it appears to be quite easy to find these decanter labels for sale on Ebay and Etsy. I love the beautiful detailing on the front; almost as much as I love gin. It's a tossup, really.
3. High ball glasses: My husband received a set of four monogrammed Sterling Cut Glass highball glasses as a gift. They are very well made and are the perfect size for a mixed drink. I stored the fourth one to make room for....
4. A vintage corkscrew: I pilfered this brass ship's anchor corkscrew from a pile of items my mother was gathering for a garage sale. It's probably from the 60's or 70's, but has just enough wear and patina to look like an antique and the worn brass adds some visual interest.
5. A tray or platter: This white platter was a wedding gift and has been gathering dust in my china cabinet for the last five years. I used it to tie that "area" of the bar together.
6. Alcohol: Clearly, this is the showpiece of the bar. At our house, bourbon whiskey and gin are favorites. Tequila isn't bad either. However, we also have a random hodgepodge of bottles we have acquired--like unopened bottles of vermouth, cheap Canadian whiskey, scotch, and other obscure items. My philosophy is this: display the "good stuff" (i.e., best looking bottles and highest quality spirits) in the front, then use bottles in the middle and back to fill in the holes. I'm not planning to drink that vermouth any time in the near future, but I put it out anyway. I just put it in the back with the other randoms.
I added small bottles and a chotchky on the end for some visual interest. Those are small bottles of Crown and a random wood piece I spray painted black.
Other essentials I plan to add in the future:
A vintage bottle opener: I'm mildly obsessed with bottle openers made from shed deer antlers. There is a decent selection of them on Ebay and Etsy. Most seem to be made with "shed" antlers, meaning they were antlers the deer naturally shed from their body throughout the course of the year, rather than antlers pilfered from a deer by a hunter. If having deer antlers in your home gives you the heebie jeebies, Bakelite made a series of bar tools and utensils from faux antlers (molded plastic) in the 50's and 60's and there are a ton of them on Etsy. Plus, they are cheap!
Drink-mixing books: There are hundreds of these on the market today, so be sure to peruse Amazon for reviews on the best books. It wouldn't hurt to find some that look cool, too.
A vintage ice bucket: If I had an actual cart (or a table with a shelf underneath) an ice bucket would be a great addition to my home bar. I like vintage buckets that add a unique flair to your bar, like these apple ice buckets on Etsy.
A unique bottle of vodka: In my book, the clear winner of this requirement is Crystal Head Vodka. Extra bonus points: the company was started by Dan Aykroyd!
Fun shot glasses: There are some cool vintage ones out there, but I also love the skull shot glasses on the Crystal Head Vodka site. They come in a pack of six for $35.