Party at your place! Here’s how to perfect your home bar


If the hordes of stylishly-clad millennials clamoring for pricey libations in modern-day speakeasies like ETA in Highland Park and Sassafras in Hollywood are any indication, the new cocktail culture is just hitting its stride.

While it’s still possible to savor an old-time tipple such as a Moscow mule or whiskey sour without breaking the bank (head to the Frolic Room, still L.A.’s favorite dive), some folks are discovering that staying home while indulging makes for a better option; not only is it less expensive, but there’s no driving involved (at least for the host) and you can curate your own music playlist.

But for those without a built-in bar area, finding a way to carve out a dedicated spirits space can be challenging, especially given the diminutive size of some apartments.


Laurel & Wolf designer James Tabb, however, says a little ingenuity is all that’s required.

“Really all you need is room for an ice bucket, a tray and a couple of glasses,” he insists. “In my own home here in L.A., I have a small wine rack that holds 24 bottles, and there’s just enough room on top for a little tray, a decanter and a few glasses.”

If you have a bit of extra room and desire something slightly more formal, Tabb recommends a bar cart. “They have great storage capacity, and you can simply wheel it out of the room or into a closet when you’re not using it,” he says. “And these days, they’re available at all different price points, from something inexpensive at West Elm to a high-end vintage piece from French designer Jacques Adnet that you’d find on 1stdibs.”

Kirsten Grove, the blogger behind the popular design site and author of the new book “Simply Styling: Fresh & Easy Ways to Personalize Your Home,” suggests repurposing something you already own when creating a home bar. “A friend of mine used a nightstand. It wasn’t very big or tall, but she put bottles inside the cabinet part and glassware and tools on top,” Grove says. “And a bookshelf is a great idea — I actually use one with wider shelves in my house with some of my favorite glasses displayed on one shelf, bottles on another and then I put out flatware and dishware on another when the time comes.”

Other furnishings that could pull double duty include sofa console tables, sideboards and desks. (“A ’50s secretary that opens up would make a very chic bar,” says Tabb). A shallow closet — tricked out with a small table or DIY shelving — is another possibility; bonus points for an electrical outlet, which not only allows for a snazzy lamp but an undercounter fridge as well.


Part 2 of creating your own aperitif area involves stocking the accouterments (you’re on your own when it comes to choosing the actual booze). “You’ll need a tray or two to display glassware and bottles, which you might want to pick up at a flea market for a more unique look,” says Grove. “And storage options like decorative baskets can be used to hide cocktail napkins and bar tools.”

“This new cocktail culture likes their drinks made with all sorts of fruits and herbs, so it’s a good idea to include a few small bowls and a cutting board,” advises Tabb, who would add an ice bucket and shaker to the list of must-haves. “And look for items made from brass or copper, which is very much on trend right now.”