6 Home Bar Essentials

So you’re building a man cave. No man cave is complete without some sort of bar setup. It doesn’t have to be big and complicated, but there are a few items that are absolutely essential to make your home bar complete. In this article, we’ll cover a few of them.

Let’s start behind the bar.

Not surprisingly, the first thing you’ll need is the alcohol. Now, no one is saying that you have to purchase all of these to make your home bar great, but having a wide selection of liquors, wines and beers can make sure that whoever comes  into your man cave will walk away happy and a little tipsy.

You’ll have to consult your friends to see if there are any liquors you have no need for, but a typical home bar should include the basics: Vodka, gin, tequila, and whiskey. With the supporting liquors like vermouth and absinthe.

The number of liquors you can stock in your bar is only limited by the amount of space you have in your bar. My suggestion is to start with the basics, and slowly but surely build a collection of liquors, experimenting with kinds you’ve never had before as time goes by and you can afford them.

But your liquid requirements don’t stop at liquor, you also need to have stocked a variety of beers and wines for every taste, not to mention mixers; ginger ale, tonic water, and juices.

But also the ingredients that help finish off a wide range of cocktails; bitters, lemons and limes, olives and cherries.

Then there are the tools that every great barman needs on hand.

The small, obvious tools like one, one and a half and two ounce jiggers, easily replaced by a shot glass that you know the volume of; long handled drink stirrers, again, easily replaced by a simple spoon, but having the long stem gives a sense of authority to your mixology skills.

You’ll also want a sturdy muddler on hand, something to smash up and mix together all the good raw ingredients for a proper cocktail. And lastly you’ll need the requisite cocktail shakers and strainers.

These lists are cut short because a home bar isn’t meant to have all the items of a normal bar, unless you have the space and the means.

No, a home bar is meant to be a place where friends can get together and chat about their days, or play a round of pool with their friends over a cocktail that didn’t cost them an arm and a leg to buy.

Glassware

If you’re experimenting with different cocktails, perhaps leafing through a mixologist’s handbook, you’ll see there are many different types of glasses alcohol can be served in.

You won’t of course need all of them, but it is sometimes a good idea to have a few different kinds on hand.

While you can have a few simple highball glasses on hand to throw a cocktail into, the hallmark experience of a cocktail is the glass it’s served in.

A vodka martini, shaken, not stirred wouldn’t be as cool if it was served in a plastic, color changing cup. (Or perhaps it’d be even cooler?)

There is something elegant and sophisticated about having the distinctive shape of a martini glass to sip your martini out of.

Ultimately the result is the same, the alcohol is getting into your system no matter what, but I think you’ll agree that sipping a martini out of a martini glass is a lot more dignified than shooting back vodka shots. 

A home bar needs to be stocked with more than just a couple martini glasses though. You’ll also want to have on hand a set of nice and sturdy tumbler glasses. There are many choices of style, material and strength, so might I suggest taking a look at this buying guide to narrow down the choices?

Shot glasses are a must, especially if you’re wanting to get a little wild with the guys. You could opt for the commemorative shot glasses you’ve collected over the years, or you can get a set of fancy long stemmed shot glasses. The choice is yours.

Wine glasses are a welcome addition, as well has having some basic pint glasses for beer and the preparation of more complicated cocktails.

Kegerator

A kegerator, if the name isn’t enough to suggest its meaning, is a refrigerator specifically designed to cool your keg of beer.

They’re incredibly useful if you’re someone who is a big beer drinker, but misses the taste of  freshly tapped beer when you’re at home. Now you and your buddies can have that in your man cave.

Some models can fit under the counter and have tubing that can leads to a couple of mounted taps, but most models stand about waist height with taps coming out the top.

There are a lot of options out there when choosing a kegerator for your home bar, that’s why we’ve done all the hard work for you here, with our kegerator buying guide. 

You’ll find exactly what you need, and there may even be room in your kegerator for a few mixers and maybe a bottle of white wine.

Some kegs will be chilled to different temperatures; some at 35 degrees, still others at 45 degrees. You’ll adjust your kegerator’s temperature to suit your specific needs, but this doesn’t help with the next important item to have included in your man cave’s home bar: Ice.

Ice 

No home bar is complete without ice. Ice is the most useful thing you can have behind the bar. If it’s not used in the drink itself, it’s used to cool the drink. While many professional bars will have big vats of ice that refill themselves automatically, home bars don’t need that kind of flash.

Ice in a home bar can be as simple as an ice cube tray sitting in a frosty mini fridge, or it can be as complicated as owning a spherical ice cube tray, where the tray itself is a two halved setup that fits together leaving the empty space between the two halves a sphere

You fill it with water, let it freeze and voila, you have spherical ice cubes…spheres. A normal ice cube tray is perfectly acceptable though.

If your home bar doesn’t have a freezer in it, don’t be embarrassed to go to the kitchen and get a bucket full of ice, like you’d do if you were staying in a hotel and bring it back down to your bar.

Comfortable stools

An important element, often forgotten in a home bar is the seating. Now if the home bar you’re creating is meant to be a subtle bar cabinet, then seating would be a bit unnecessary, you’d just prepare your drinks at the bar and bring them to the normal seating area to be enjoyed.

But if you’ve built an actual working bar with a workstation and shelves for the liquor bottles, then proper, comfortable bar stools are a must to bring the whole room together.

This kind of home bar is meant to be a place where people linger, and spend time talking to one another. Not the place to grab your cocktail and scurry back to the couch.

A good bar stool needs to be equal parts comfortable and fashionable.

Comfort is a difficult thing to peg down, sometimes the basic wooden stool can be more comfortable than a big cushioned one. Sometimes backs are necessary, sometimes they’re a hinderance.

Fashionableness is an even trickier thing to try and determine. You’ll have to match your barstool to the rest of your bar. What’s the atmosphere?

If it’s themed like a tiki bar, then modern looking metallic chairs would stick out like a sore thumb.

Ultimately the choice of stool is up to the owner of the bar, and should reflect the personality of the bar itself.

A game of some kind

Moving away from the bar itself, let’s look at the entertainment offered in your home bar. It’s important to have something to do in your bar other than watch TV and chat.

Preferably something with a game element.

If you’re a board game enthusiast, why not have a specified board game table, perhaps one with the out-folding arms to have plenty of room for any number of players.

If you’re into video games, maybe it’d be best to have a nice comfortable couch and a big screen TV with powerful speakers.

If you’re into more subtle games, you could have a billiards table, or a ping pong table set up.

You could set up darts tournaments with your buddies and compete to see who is the most accurate. If darts isn’t your cup of tea, but pinball is, you know what to do.

Whatever entertainment you supply your home bar with should reflect not only the bar’s personality, but your’s.

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