Richard Miller of cabinetmaker Halstock shares his advice on everything you need to create the perfect home bar, from the essential tools to the perfect spirits
1 Planning your space For everyday entertaining, a large cupboard can be easily converted into a practical bar. However, if you regularly throw parties for large groups and require room for two people to be making drinks at the same time, you’ll need a bar that’s around two metres long. Consider the wiring, ventilation and plumbing early on.
2 Wet or dry? You can incorporate a ‘dry’ bar just about anywhere, but having a ‘wet’ bar, with a built-in sink (and preferably an ice-maker) is much more useful for serious mixologists. Including a dishwasher means that no one has to ferry glasses back and forth to the kitchen. The sink does not need to be huge and should ideally be incorporated seamlessly into a stainless-steel worksurface.
3 Choosing your materials A bar is a great way to express yourself. We have created everything from wooden bars that discreetly match existing panelling to ones featuring built-in aquariums. Designers can use just about any material you can think of, but to avoid damage to surfaces that will get wet repeatedly it makes sense to use stainless-steel, aluminium, glass or mirrored tops.
4 The essential tools You only need six basic tools: a good cocktail shaker, a mixing glass or smallish jug, a long-handled stirring spoon that has a bit of weight to it, a strainer to get rid of seeds and pulp, a ‘jigger’ with a one-ounce measure on one side and a two-ounce measure on the other, and a paring knife for cutting strips of peel.
5 The glassware Unless you always serve one signature drink, it makes sense to collect a whole array of glassware, from short glasses to coupes, and a variety of tumblers. Don’t worry if they don’t match, but do ensure that you have at least six of each type.
6 And finally, the drinks A couple of bottles of vodka, gin, whisky, a bourbon and some vermouth, as well as a light and a dark rum, should be more than enough for most bars, but you may want to add a bottle of Cointreau and some Triple Sec. Have a few fruit purees (as well as lemons, limes, strawberries, oranges, raspberries and fresh mint) in the fridge, along with a good range of mixers and a selection of bottled beers.
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