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How Do You Build Your Own Home Bar?

A trip to Baccarat’s Miami boutique in the Design District is a great place to start - they are one of just a few Baccarat locations in the US that have not only a comprehensive retail offering but a full-service bar. Pop in for a drink, and you might just get inspired.

Next, you’ll need to find a location within your home that makes sense for your bar. This can be as small as a dedicated space in your kitchen - counter space or nook in your cabinet - to an area in your den, living room, or patio. Think of wherever makes sense and will be useful to you when entertaining. 

The next most important considerations are counter height (to ensure a useful workspace - this should be just about at your elbow) and storage. If you’re like me and have a prized glassware collection, you’ll want to find a way to prominently display that.

I had the honor to create a dream home bar in partnership with Baccarat, where I utilized the iconic French brand’s stunning glassware and lighting to create a home bar space, ‘Bar L’Orange’, inspired by my book Cocktail Chameleon.  I transformed the home’s pantry space between the kitchen and dining room into a fully-functional bar. To show off an array of Baccarat glassware and objects d’art, I removed cabinet doors and applied a mirrored background. But you don’t need to entirely renovate a space - some of these small changes can go a long way in your own home bar. 

What are the initial steps that you have to take?

To begin mixing cocktails at home, you’ll want to start with basic bartending tools and the proper glassware.

Five Glassware Essentials

Next, consider the glassware as attire for your drink - or the ‘cocktail attire’, if you will. Start with the five essential types of glasses first - you can always add other specialty glasses that you might find necessary, along with some of my favorite versions of each, from Baccarat: Tumblers, Highballs, Wine Glasses, Martini Glasses, Champagne Flutes, and Coupes.

(left to right) Old Fashioned cocktail in Baccarat Harmonie Tumbler,

Anti-Gravity in Everyday Baccarat Classic Vega Tumbler

(left to right) Sazerac in Baccarat Massena Coup,

Frozen Pink Sangria in Baccarat Mille Nuits Glass

Five Best Five Bar Tools

After you have collected the proper cocktail ingredients and attire, you will now need basic bar tools to help you create your cocktails. Start with a good quality Cocktail Shaker, Jigger for measuring, Hawthorn Strainer, Bar Spoon, and most importantly a comprehensive cocktail recipe book, such as Cocktail Chameleon. 

What are the essential liquors, liqueurs, mixers, and garnishes?

There are several varieties within each spirit type that will allow you to create a wide range of cocktails for you and your company - Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, and Whiskey (meaning Bourbon, Rye, or Scotch).

Liqueurs are generally distilled spirits that are flavored used to add flavor and/or sweetness to your drinks or to enjoy as an after-dinner drink - Triple Sec, Dry Vermouth, Sweet Vermouth (red), an Amaro, a flavored liqueur of your choice (floral, herbal or fruity).

To properly make most cocktails, you will need some non-alcoholic ingredients on-hand, at your bar or refrigerator - Club Soda, Tonic Water, Bitters, Simple Syrup, Fresh Juices, Olives, Cocktail Onions, Citrus Fruits, Cocktail Cherries, Salt Rim Mixes.

Your preferred flourishes?

Lighting is a key element that can help create the perfect mood as well as illuminate your bar top and bar back. Lighting elements installed above and or on the bar top itself will bounce light off of a mirror background and make your glassware really stand out. Incidentally, Baccarat can also help you there, with its array of lighting.

Adding artwork and objects d’art in and around the bar adds personality and can spark conversation with your guests when you entertain.

I also like to highlight high-end spirits on trays with a dedicated collection of glassware, placing them front and center – even if you never open that uber expensive bottle of cognac!

Louis XIII decanter with Everyday Baccarat les Minis

What’s something most people forget to add to their home bar?

Believe it or not, ice is the one thing most people don’t consider when creating a home bar. Proximity of your home bar to the kitchen doesn’t have to be an issue. If you have the luxury of creating a wet bar (a term used when a space has running water) you can install an under-the-counter ice maker that will continually create perfectly square clear ice cubes – you are golden!  If not, investing in a relatively inexpensive countertop ice maker will yield bar-quality ice cubes in minutes.

How has your own home bar evolved over the years?

My home bar has grown over the years with the addition of new glassware – I am a fanatic! – and specialty bar tools, specialty liqueurs, and homemade infused spirits that I bottle and use as gifts.

I often update the artwork and objects d’art, spirits, and decoration (seasonal flowers are a must) in and around my bar to freshen up the look and keep things interesting. 

Your home bar will evolve with your experience of cocktail making. Start with the basics and learn the classic proportions of your favorite drinks. Outfitted with the right tools, glassware, and ingredients, you will be crafting your own signature cocktails to share with family and friends in no time!

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Words by Mark Addison | Images by Marco Ricca


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