Drinking and dining at home is on the rise as young Britons are falling out of love with pubs.
According to the Telegraph, people cited "cost" as the main reason for the change in their social habits, but also that entertaining at home was a "more comfortable" experience, with many simply preferring to catch up with friends in a cosier and more personal environment.
So what better way to bring that in-bar experience home, to make the very most of an at-home drinks party or pre-dinner soiree than with a well-stocked and stylish home bar?
Here’s our guide to the essential kit and the basic barware you need in order to build a fully-functioning and great-looking bar cart:
WHERE DO I START?
There are (arguably) seven key spirits needed as a starting point.
First up, choose a premium Vodka and Gin. These two spirits act as the base in a huge number of cocktails and most people will lean towards one or the other. Choose versatile spirits – you don’t necessarily want, for example, to opt for a flavoured gin or vodka to start as the more neutral white spirits work best as a base.
Opt for something like Brooklyn Gin - which is great in cocktails due to its citrus and juniper heavy profile. Monkey 47 is another popular versatile choice, as is the pretty-bottled Warner Edwards, Tanqueray 10 and Copperhead. The Copperhead Alchemist pack is a particularly good Home Bar choice as it includes three bitters to spice up a simple gin and tonic.
For the vodka, the always-stylish Absolut bottles make a statement and the Electic and Elyx limited-edition bottles would brighten any bar cart. Similarly, SKYY vodka and Konik’s Tail vodka are good-looking, great tasting additions. For the real wow factor in terms of taste AND appearance, we’d make the Crystal Head Aurora Vodka bottle a Home Bar centre-piece.
Finally, stock up on a decent bourbon (or a whisky blend). The perfect base for a Manhattan, Whisky Sour or Old Fashioned – we like the award-winning Knob Creek, or if you prefer a sleeker looking bottle to display, Woodford Reserve’s Kentucky Bourbon is excellent as a whiskey cocktail base. For a traditional blend, Monkey Shoulder is a great cocktail whisky that is still great neat with a splash of water. Alternatively, the attractive Haig Club is clean to sip straight, but not so flavoursome to obscure a cocktail.
OK. I HAVE THE ESSENTIAL SPIRITS. NOW WHAT?
Mixers. Get in soda water, premium tonic such as Fever-Tree and a ginger ale is also a great mixing option. Double Dutch also create some interesting mixers that make experimenting with your base spirits an easy, yet tasty option.
It might also be worth considering Cointreau and a Tequila to cover classic cocktails such as Cosmopolitans and Margaritas. Finally, for quick-fixes, pre-mixed concoctions are easy to pick up from your bar cart to create super-fast drinks – Mac & Wild’s renowned creations make hosting seriously stress-free.
AND THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE?
Aside from some beautiful glassware (we have a current obsession with copper cups…) every at-home bar should include a three-piece cocktail shaker (the easiest to use with built in strainer), a jigger (that’s a measure to you and I…), a muddler, a citrus squeezer and a peeler for easy garnishes.
With this in mind, a bowl of lemons and limes – orange too if you like your bourbon cocktails and negronis – a small ice box and tongs are also great additions. And last, but by no means least, the cocktail saviour: Sugar Syrup – Monin’s can’t be beaten as a pre-mixed.
GREAT. ANY FINAL TOP TIPS?
Trays. Trinkets. A plant perhaps. Put your own signature spin on it – whether it’s dark wood and brooding with thick heavy glassware or rose-gold and girly with the addition of fresh flowers, your bar cart can house a home bar of any size – why not invest in our starter pack and go from there…
If you need any further advice or have any specific requirements for drinking at home, just give us a call: 0333 900 31 31, Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm. We love to chat.