Weeks before Kieran and I actually moved into our flat, and before we bought anything we actually needed we had picked out a bar that would take pride of place between the open plan kitchen and living room. It was the best buy we could have possibly got back then, especially ahead of this year being stuck at home, and with occasions like Kieran’s 30th too. It went from being very bare, to almost fully stocked with hardly any room left. Here’s the home bar cart essentials you’ll need for making all your favourite drinks.
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If you’ve built up a collection of bottles this year that take up room somewhere then you might want to think about getting yourself a home bar too.
I realised I’ve shared a couple of drinks recipes and cocktail posts this year, including the most recent ones for Christmas cocktails just a few days ago. So it makes sense to also share all the equipment you need too. Don’t worry it’s nothing too technical, difficult, or expensive. My bar girl days are firmly behind me in my uni days, but these are all the things we use daily…that sounds bad…I mean weekly on our home bar.
A Cocktail Set
My beautiful rose gold set was from Oliver Bonas, but this one from Amazon is very similar. There are actually loads of them in various sizes and prices on Amazon so have a browse to see what you like best. I’ve used each piece within it – the shaker, jigger, stirrer etc so much so it’s worth investing in a full set rather than buying each item individually. If you’re planning to make a range of cocktails then it’s worth it for the use you will get.
The only part that you can still get from Oliver Bonas is the stirrer here, but if you’re spending £13 you might as well get one as part of a set.
It just keeps things a lot tidier especially if you’re making cocktails, as it keeps all spillages and sticky patches in one spot, so it’s easier to keep clean rather than having to wash down the whole bar surface every time you use it. I use just a cheap £3 one from Wilkinsons that matches my cocktail set but I don’t actually like it that much.
A Serving Jug
I got a really cheap one from IKEA and we’ve had so much use out of it this year, mainly from me making sangria!
A Chopping Board, Knife & Vegetable Peeler
For all your fruit and garnish chopping, get a small chopping board and knife that you keep on the bar or in a drawer. It means you can do all your preparation in one place and again without damaging the bar itself with scratches.
A vegetable peeler is also very handy especially for gin and tonic garnish. Grapefruit skin is one of my favourite things and the grapefruit lasts a lot longer if you just peel on the outside rather than cutting into it.
I got ours from Ikea, they’re nothing fancy.
Carafe & Decanter
I have the most incredible wine carafe that I was given as a gift from one of the agencies I work with, it’s absolutely beautiful and great for when you have a really good bottle of red. It didn’t come with glasses but many of them do, so it’s a good investment if you’re a red wine drinker.
We don’t have a decanter but I think we should for some of Kieran’s whiskies, but again there are some gorgeous ones about especially if they come with a set of glasses too.
Bottle opener/Cork screw & Bottle Stop
Don’t forget a bottle opener and cork screw, vital components of any bar and get a good one not one you usually have on a key ring or a fridge magnet.
I always think bottle stops look nice and are useful if you don’t finish the bottle. Ours hardly ever gets used…go figure.
I’ve used this a couple of times before lockdown when we’ve had people over and put the Prosecco on ice. It’s a good investment and I think it would get more use if I could have had people round more this year. It’s worth having one for when we can. I found this the hardest thing to buy, I just assumed supermarkets would have them but they either didn’t or were always out of stock.
They’re not as cheap as you might think especially if you get a good stainless steel one, this one is just £5.99 from Amazon. In the summer when we could be out in gardens my dad bought some brilliant big ones from Sainsbury’s, which were great for BBQ’s. I suppose they’d also be good in the winter if you have a fire pit outside, or just dont want to move from the sofa!
Paper or Metal Straws
Keeping it environmentally friendly always go for paper or reusable straws. I really don’t like metal ones so I get paper ones.
Snack or Nut Bowls
Although you’re unlikely to leave these on the bar if they’re actually in use for things like nuts or olives, they come in handy on the bar itself as extra storage too. I put all sorts in the little bowls I have on the bar, everything from half the lemon or limes I’ve cut, to dried fruit or corks I want to keep. They keep things tidy rather than scattered over the bar.
I have the Bistro Tiled bowl from Anthropologie, but it doesn’t look like you can still get it. This berry basket from the same range would do the trick though. I also have a tiny black one from H&M Home which is perfect for nuts and raisins, and I really want this beautiful set from Maison Du Monde.
Cocktail Recipe Books
Go for simple easy ones, or books that focus on your favourite spirits as you’re likely to use them more. Some of them are so complicated for experienced bar tenders and it’s unlikely you’ll use them very much. This cocktail recipe book is great for beginners or if you just want to make a few of your favourites.
A Relevant Print
There are so many prints or photos to choose from to hang above your bar, a cocktail guide, a photo or illustration of your favourite pub, or just an arty shot of your favourite spirit. We have a print of The Strawberry in Newcastle above ours, which was a gift from my lovely friend Hannah for helping her with her blog launch.
Some really good general ones can be found on Fy.com, or if you want something custom made then have a look at local girl Laura Jayne Designs. Geordie Gifts have some Newcastle pub illustrations here, and I also really like this Newcastle guide by Martha Mitchell Designs.
Once you have your home bar fully stocked with all the essentials, if you still have room left you could make it more attractive with some little decorations. A candle, a plant, even some fairy lights. On special occasions I’ve even hung banners up across it which also looks nice.
We also have one of those ‘Every cork tells a Story’ 3D frames from Next, where you write on every cork you pop what the occasion is and keep all the corks. It’s filled up a lot quicker than I thought it would this year with so much drinking being done in the house, but it has some corks from Kieran’s 30th, the first day out after lockdown, and plenty other occasions on it too.
Now all that’s left to do is stock it up with your favourite spirits, wine and mixers. Happy home bar styling!
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