Setting up the home bar

modern home bar


When I was younger I often visited an uncle who had lots of coin to spend. I loved his house. It was big, tastefully furnished with everything seemingly perfect. I had access to all but one space. It was edged in one of the corners of the living room. Small black fridge, above it a cabinet made of glass and minimal wood with a lock and key that was verboten. My uncle would religiously go to the corner after work, pour himself what I believed to be bad juice (all my aunt’s doing). Years later I laugh at the thought. My uncle had a fantastic home bar.

Many of us believe a home bar means having a whole space with bar stools and a counter. Shelves of alchohol and hanging mahogany glass racks with all kinds of glassware. A hidden stash under the bed. All that is good to have but (lack of) space should not hold you back from having a home bar. If you have control over the design of your house, you can always request to have a bar drawn into the plan. If you are in an already done space, we are going to use some improvisation.

simple home bar
simple home bar

See where your bookshelf? Have two or more partitions to hold your bar. Use a tray to hold the drinks and a few glasses. The top of the antique chest of drawers (or high table) against the wall in the living room can easily be your home bar. Time to stock up your bar with the necessary items. The first thing you need to your hands on is a cocktails book. Subscribing to sites that have cocktails recipes like The Backyard Bartender and Saloon Box serve the same purpose. Now we need the actual drinks. Buy what you like to drink. The old rule, moving from known to unknown? Yes. The amount of drinks you buy depends on how often and the number of people you host.

Below is a good list drinks to start you off.

Spirits Liqueurs Mixers
Cachaca Vermouth Fresh lemons & limes
Vodka Cointreau Simple syrup
Gin Disaronno Bitters like Angostura
Tequila Campari Club soda, Tonic water, Cola, Ginger ale
Rum (both dark & light)


The many words might have thrown you off but not to worry. You just need the basics definitions for now:

Liqueurs – Alcohols flavored with herbs, fruits, nuts or spices and have sugar added. You can have it before or after dinner or use it to make cocktails.

Bitters – These are types of liqueur that are very concentrated. Use them in small dashes in drinks and cocktails.

Mixers – These include sodas, such as tonic water, seltzer, lemon-lime soda, and juices such as cranberry, orange, lemon and lime.

Syrups – Use this to sweeten drinks and cocktails. The classic type is a simple syrup, made from equal amounts sugar and water heated to a simmer and then chilled. You can further add fruits, herbs or spices to give it an edge. Syrup can also be made from alternative sweeteners like honey or agave.

So what happens if you host non-alcoholics or your mother in law a leader in church? Fresh juice, grape fruit and seltzer either sweetened or diluted and lemon juice make the best mocktails. We can cross out adult beverages. The next thing you need is tools and glassware.


Boston shaker

boston shaker vs. cobbler shaker


double shot jigger
double shot jigger





Bar spoon

bar spoon
bar spoon

Hawthorne strainer

hawthorne strainer
hawthorne strainer

Handheld citrus peeler

orange peeler
orange peeler


cross stitch napkin
cross stitch napkin

Ice bagICE BAG



  • Short glass
  • Tall glass
  • Mixing glass
  • Wine glasses 
    mixing glass
                                                                  mixing glass

    different glasses and their purposes
    different glasses and their purposes

We are almost there. Whether a beginner, intermediate or an experienced host who likes to shake up cocktails there are a few tips that might make the whole process a whole lot easier.

  • Have a fridge that can keep drinks chilled
  • Keep the liqueur away from the direct sunlight
  • The lower the liquid level the faster you should consume the drink
  • Keep up with the trends in the cocktails world
  • Prices do not mean quality

And we are off to having our own bar.  Fix yourself a drink you have earned it.











Author: Medrine Nyambura

Copywriter, Kijiji Agency

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