I was recently clearing off a buffet table to use it as a refreshment area. Behind this table, I have a narrow rustic ledge that goes down the entire width of a large window and wall. I decorate this ledge a few times during the year, depending on the holiday or theme. I thought it might be fun to showcase some of my old wine bottles on this ledge. Acting as “wall art”, they would be positioned right above our bar area. It turned out beautifully. Read more if you would like to know how to set up and stock a home bar.
Empty Wine Bottles?
Now, the day will eventually come when you realize that you have an empty wine bottle. Don’t despair; for when a wine bottle has poured its last drop … this is when the decorating begins! Their vast array of colors are gorgeous – very earthy and subdued. I particularly like the green-hued bottles; however, I keep and reuse all colored wine bottles – even the clear ones. Add some lights and flowers to the mix, and you’ll be amazed by the transformation.
There really is no magic to this … simply clean the bottles, take their labels off, pop in some flowers, and add some twinkly lights. You could put lights inside the bottles; however, I like to put flowers in them (real or artificial) – with the lights randomly scattered around and behind them. The end result is so vibrant and earthy … and the lights help heighten all the beautiful hues.
Depending on the season, I will place a few other visual elements on the ledge – filling in the spaces between each bottle. Since the table directly below the ledge is going to be set up as a bar, I added colorful blossoms, nuts, and glass ice cubes (which added more sparkle).
Fever- Tree Tonics
Regarding Tonics and Mixers – I have been hearing and reading some wonderful reviews about Fever-Tree Tonics. They have a brightness and balance about them that is superb. They have been getting praise from many organizations – from the New York Times to the Gourmet Magazine. Even the August 2015 issue from RealSimple.com gave them a positive mention. RealSimple put some cocktail mixers to the test, and the result for the #1 Best Tonic was the Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic.
I went to our local store to purchase some; unfortunately, they did not have any. So I ordered some from Amazon and got them in two days. They arrived in perfect condition. The labels are gorgeous, and easy to read. The variety and range of their Tonic Waters is immense, so I should have a flavor for just about anyone – even those that don’t drink cocktails. I purchased the Fever-Tree Gift Pack – which turned out to be absolutely perfect for a well-stocked bar.
Many flavors exist with Fever-Tree, from Indian Tonic Water, Naturally Light Tonic Water, Mediterranean Tonic Water, Elderflower Tonic Water, Bitter Lemon, Ginger Beer, Naturally Light Ginger Beer, Ginger Ale, Sparkling Lemon, Club Soda and more! All are quite good.
Other Mixers you might need:
In addition to Fever-Tree Tonics, you will want to be sure to have a supply of Fruit Juice, Cola, Ginger Ale (Fever-Tree makes a delicious one), Bitters, Sparkling Water, Triple Sec, and White Vermouth. This list is not all-inclusive, but it is a good starter package and includes libations that are perfect for guests that prefer non-alcoholic beverages too.
The Fever-Tree Tonics are the perfect cocktail mixers. No longer do you, or your guest, have to measure and muddle around for the tastiest drink. All that is required is adding a Tonic or two. Your guests will be impressed with the flavor of these mixers, and your bar area will also be impressive.
They not only taste good, but they look fabulous sitting on the table just waiting to be devoured. With gorgeous and classy labels, the color and hue of both the label and the Tonic water make for a beautiful presentation. Put them out au naturel, for they need no further enhancement. A few slices of lemons, limes and oranges will finish off this tasty presentation nicely.
Bring out an assortment of Glasses –
To allow for all the different tastes of your guests, you will need to be sure to include different-sized glasses in your line-up. Specific drinks taste better in drink-appropriate glasses. Plan accordingly. Place wine glasses, goblets, tumblers, margarita, martini, champagne, shot, and double old-fashioned glasses – and even beer mugs – on your bar. If you or a guest will be using a muddler – then you definitely need to use some quality and heavy-duty glasses that will stand up to the task.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on glassware. While I have plenty of glasses, I still can’t resist a good bargain at a local thrift shop or Goodwill store. The gold-trimmed glasses were a recent purchase at just such a store, and I was able to purchase nine of them! The gold was in perfect shape, and it looked like the previous owners took very good care of them. I think they were probably just put on the shelves when I walked by, as they were all together and not damaged in any way. I quickly snapped them up, and they look beautiful sitting on my make-shift bar table.
If you tier your glasses on different levels, it will also help with the visual presentation. More importantly, it allows for the guest to retrieve their glass without fear of tumbling over other glasses. This is very important, especially if there are a lot of friends and guests mulling over the same area at the same time. After all, accidents happen to the best of us.
Don’t forget your Tools –
While the majority of these items are not costly, you still will need them in order to accommodate all your drink requests.
Plan on having a muddler, jigger, hand juicer, stirrer, a zester, strainer, ice bucket (with tongs), a vodka chilling set, and a towel or two. I also like to have a pitcher of water on hand. Another option is to have a couple of pitchers ready – one with plain water, another either flavored with limes or lemons.
Chances are you already have most of these items on hand, but if not, you can easily buy a complete Bar Set online or at your favorite local home goods store.
Finish your cocktail with Garnishes –
As I mentioned earlier, you definitely need limes, lemons and oranges. To complete your garnish shopping list – add cherries, olives, nutmeg, salt, sugar, whipped cream … and even a few cocktail onions. As a finishing touch, I like to add an assortment of nuts or cocktail peanuts.
And that is about it. Setting up a home bar is not that difficult, and it is really a lot of fun. I will leave it to you to pick your favorite bar beverages to have on hand, but if you include some major players like Red or White Wine, Cognac, Brandy, Bourbon, Cointreau, Champagne, Gin, Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Rum, Vodka, Tequila and more … you should have all of your flavorful bases covered. Your guests will be thoroughly impressed, and they will probably want to come and visit with you more often! I hope you found this post helpful, especially now that we will start to have a lot of celebrations and holidays in the coming months. Enjoy!