The transition to a new year will involve more fanfare and enthusiasm than usual, and I am thrilled to participate. This year, there’s an element of mystery and the unknown that contrasts the familiar traditions of sparkling bubbles in a crystal coupe and the glitter that comes from a shimmery blouse and velvet heels, even if paired with skinny jeans. I don’t plan to be at a big New Year’s Eve party. It’s more likely that I’ll be cozy in my PJs playing board games with my family. However, once the pandemic is mitigated, I aspire to always be ready for an impromptu gathering. After a year of limited contact with everyone who lives outside of my house, I don’t want anything to hold me back from a great celebration, whether it’s with 20 guests or just two. For me, those occasions will launch with a well-stocked bar.
I have always adored beautiful glassware and crystal. When Mike and I started dating he marveled at the variety in my collection and my ability to produce just the perfect vessel for whatever we were pouring.
Bar carts have experienced a resurgence in popularity over the past decade. A chic piece of furniture with a distinct purpose adds a glamorous and practical element to a room where one entertains. Casters on bar carts make sure that the party can roll from one room to another with ease. In our house, however, I chose a permanent area for our bar. It’s a space above a clean-lined, built-in cabinet that anchors the back wall of the living room. With an oversized convex mirror on the wall to reflect all of my beautiful things.
And let’s talk about all of the fixings. Cocktails and drinks are fun! Vintage is somewhat of a must-have when it comes to putting a bar together. It’s the prime spot to display some wonderful finds from antique shops. The market offers many new things as well such as pieces that will have you dreaming of a tangy margarita. But I prefer the kind of glasses that harken back to James Bond when he clarified “shaken not stirred” as the preference for his martini. My vintage double old-fashioned glasses shimmer with a gold cane design. I picked up these stunners on eBay years ago. I found the stirrers on Amazon and thought they were the perfect accessory. Plus, they do their job perfectly when I add an extra squirt of citrus to a drink. What I love about this process is that dreaming up cocktails calls for creativity, and the tools can be artful, too. A bar does not have to be the place for patterns that match grandma’s china.
When it comes to the booze to have on-hand start with the basics. Figure out what you’ll use the most, and then buy the obvious suspects. And then add a few extras to impress your guest who is the cocktail connoisseur. When you are planning for a special gathering, considering crafting a signature cocktail. Then you might need to pick up refreshing sprigs of mint or heated jalapenos (in this case, make sure there’s room to break out on the dance floor, too). Lemons and limes? A bar shouldn’t be without them. And never forget non-alcoholic options. A range of those flavored sparkling sodas can be served alone or as mixers. I am a sucker for the cute little bottles and well-designed cans that I find at the store. They look lovely lined up like soldiers next to glasses on a bar.
Here is my list of essentials when building a bar:
- Ice bucket
- Collins Glasses
- Double old fashioned or rocks glasses
- Coups or flutes for bubbly drinks
- Wine glasses
- A flat strainer
- A cocktail shaker, some come with a strainer built-in
- A cocktail mixer
- Swizzle sticks for stirring
- Cocktail picks for lemons or olives
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s what we can live without, and what we can’t. Vacations, live performances, and meals at restaurants aside, it’s people—friends, family, and neighbors who peak our return-to-normal hopes. And when that time comes, our bar is ready. Whether you are daring enough for straight-up Whiskey, a light Moscow Mule, a full-bodied Zinfandel, or a Diet Coke, you’re invited, and I promise that we’ll have a great time. Until then, cheers.