How to Build a Bar (when you really don’t have space to build a bar)

Building a Bar (when you really don't have spar to build a bar)

Building a Bar (when you really don’t have space to build a bar)

As you’ve probably guessed from the short time I’ve been writing this blog, I’m a girl who likes to have a glass of wine now and again. I’m not much of a cocktail drinker (although I love the way they look–so crisp, so refreshing!), but I do love to entertain. And of course, one of the key elements of any cocktail party, no matter the size or occasion, is a well stocked bar. Unfortunately, not every home has the space or budget to build a custom made bar like you see in magazines.  How do you build a bar in a room where you really don’t have space to build a bar? What, you say, is the answer to this earth shattering question? The bar table, of course!

In our home, the main living area is next to the kitchen. It is tight space with a seating area, coffee table and the all important (but well hidden) toy basket. It flows right into the dining room so there is a dining table nestled in there as well. Needless to say, I don’t have much room. What I do have is a small (46 inches to be exact) open wall in between a window and a sliding glass door. So, off I went to hunt for the perfect bar table and art work that could fill up the wall space above it. I found these beauties:

Building A Bar

The spoils of my search  – bar table and wall art

I love this table because it is so simple. It is compact, has two good sized drawers, and the top is a tray that comes off. The best thing about the table is this map hidden under the glass on the tray top.

ACK MAP

The best part of my bar table – the ACK map hidden underneath!

The sea fan art is from artist Karen Robertson. I have looked at and loved her sea fans forever so I waited and waited for one of Horchow.com’s great sales and got this at a great price. I just love it.

Then it was time to build the bar. My first stop was to Target where I found a great rattan tray (World Market now has this one, similar). Especially when you are working with many items in a small space–in this case, bottles, glasses, and various other bar accoutrement–organizing it into defined areas helps so it doesn’t look jumbled and messy.  I grouped all of the liquor bottles in the rattan tray and added essentials like an ice bucket and a cocktail shaker in smaller, compact sizes to save space.

Grouping bottles together on a rattan tray helps keep the small space looking organized and neat

Grouping bottles together on a rattan tray helps keep the small space looking organized and neat

Since I’m not a hard alcohol drinker, I rely on my husband to fill in here. He knows his stuff and mixes a mean cocktail. He’s one of those guys who orders an after dinner drink you have never heard of but it could burn your nose hairs off when it comes. His bottle selection for our bar table is:

  • Mount Gay gin (great for summer gin & tonics)
  • Bombay Sapphire gin
  • Pimm’s (to make a Pimm’s No 1 – a delicious lemonade cocktail famously served at Wimbleton. Click here for the history and recipes)
  • Belvedere Vodka (for the Belvedere martini)
  • Laphroaig Whiskey
  • Oban Whiskey
  • Armanac
  • Calvados (this is one of those nose burners)
  • Gentleman’s Jack
  • Gosling’s Diet Ginger Beer (to make Dark & Stormy’s)

When hosting a smaller group of people, I love to add a few fun extras like this Fever Tree tonic. They are just a bit more special and decorative than the grocery store variety and I’ve been told they taste great too.

After the liquor, its time to add glasses, and plenty of them, not only because you end up using them but because they look pretty and decorative when you are not using them. I like to include a variety of types and sizes, from wine glasses to my new favorite roadie cups.

Nantucket Roadie Cups from RoadieCup.com

Nantucket Roadie Cups from RoadieCup.com

Don’t forget these beautiful copper mugs for Dark & Stormy’s.  I added some cute party straws for a pretty little color punch.

Copper mugs

Copper mugs are a nice touch for a Dark & Stormy

I was under the impression that one size tumbler glass would suffice but I was emphatically told by my husband that certain drinks require very specific glassware. I never mind a good shopping quest so for the past few years, I have been on a mission to find the perfect Highball and Old Fashioned glasses. When I finally found the perfect ones from Juliska, I knew I had to have them monogrammed:

Monogrammed glasses

Monogrammed High Ball & Old Fashioned glasses from Juliska

And finally, the last little details–cute cocktail napkins, an opener, cocktail picks and a wine bottle coaster.

Little Details

Little Details – Ikat napkins, cocktail picks…

And with that, one of life’s burning questions solved – who would have thought a 42″ x 24″ table could do so much?

Bar Table

Bar Table

A peek inside

A peek inside

4 thoughts on “How to Build a Bar (when you really don’t have space to build a bar)

  1. Absolutely love your post. So many wonderful ideas. Gin is quickly becoming my favorite spirit. It’s truly about the tonic too. Love the Fever Tree and am really starting to like the Q tonic. Velvet Tango Room in Cleveland has some of the best cocktails I have ever had. They are expertly made and just wonderful. Can’t wait to try some of these cocktails.

  2. Mark – Thanks for your comments. All these cool gins make me want to start drinking it but my stomach doesn’t agree 🙂 The Pimm’s Cup is a cool one and not that well known in the US, I think. What you need to do is come to Nantucket and help me work through some of this bar!

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