Life’s too short to not find reasons to celebrate the little things. Whether that’s dressing up and going out to dinner after handing in a big project, spending a Saturday in bed with a loved one and your pets just because, or toasting to the end of the work-week, it’s important to seize small victories in today’s fast-paced world. Pair that with the trend towards hand-crafted and artisanal, and you have — a line of premium teas crafted for cocktails (or !). An effortless alternative to complicated cocktails that most of us can’t be bothered with, their mixes are intended to be an at-home entertainer’s dream. But the tea is only half of the equation for a perfect dinner party. The other half? A fully-loaded bar or bar cart.
Just like designing your home, a stylish and stocked at-home bar starts with a good plan — and Jennie Ripps and Maria Littlefield, the founders of Owl’s Brew, are pretty much the closest you can get to being masters of that plan. Sharing everything you ever wanted to know about crafting the perfect at-home bar, they’re sharing their recipes for creating a fun bar, from glassware and accessories to mixers and booze.
Portrait Photography by Nicole Franzen. Lifestyle Photography by Foxes and Wolves, Wise Cocktails, and Tina Rupp
As the co-founders of Owl’s Brew, a tea crafted for cocktails, we are delighted to share our tips for creating the perfect home bar. We’ve hosted hundreds of parties and and shaken up too many cocktails to count, and we’re ready to share our list of must-haves. After all, Owl’s Brew is only half a cocktail — so we always need to be ready with the mixin’s and the fixin’s for a perfect sip every time.
There’s something downright luxurious about an at-home bar. When done right, a bar cart or entertaining area for the home can not only restore cocktail/mocktail hour, but make it feel decadent and celebratory. We think it’s high time people take back the bar, and we’d like to arm you with the confidence and tools to create innovative cocktails in the comfort of your own home.
Here are a few of our tips for crafting a perfect bar cart:
First, assess what you’re working with in regards to counter space. If you don’t have a traditional “bar cart,” don’t fret — a floating island, rolling cart, large windowsill, tabletop or a bookshelf can all double as your home bar. Any clean, flat space that can showcase your bar goodies is really all you need.
Once you have your space, think of how to fill it while keeping function in mind. Cute containers can help keep everything organized and hold all your essentials from napkins to toothpicks and straws. Some bar tools are nice to showcase, such as a shaker and jigger. Especially in small spaces, it can be striking to have a stylish decanter with your favorite “house spirit” in it. A wine rack that can hold around six bottles is a great size to start with — it keeps things compact while still putting them on display in a simple way. If you love wine as much as us, a wine bucket can be a nice addition as well.
If you have a permanent space in your home you can dedicate to a home bar set-up, dress it up! Whether that be with a neon “BAR” sign, an oversized mirror, or vintage artwork, decor is a great way to indicate that this is the place where you are a cocktail hero.
As for the bar goodies themselves, keep things simple, yet versatile. See our list of alcohol selections, glassware, accessories, and mixers below to create a spread that will impress any guest and keep the good times rolling.
This is our starter list that will definitely get you on your way, but continue to build as you go and have fun with it! One quick note on creating the polished home bar is to try to keep your tools consistent (e.g., all copper or all stainless).
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Bar Spoon
- Citrus Peeler
- Ice Cube Trays (if you want to get fancy, there’s a whole science to these guys, too. Bigger = better for cocktails.)
- Ice bucket
- One fun and reusable garnish element: this can be stainless steel olive spears, copper straws, or swizzle sticks
A good cocktail recipe will always cite the correct glassware to use. Be prepared with these basics! Try to find a dedicated place for your glassware — wall-mounted or in a pretty cabinet are always good bets.
- Champagne Flute
- Wine Glass (if you have many wine glass options already, great. If not, don’t get too overwhelmed with this — they will come as your bar builds!)
- Martini Glass
With booze, a great rule of thumb is (of course) to stock what YOU enjoy drinking on hand, as well as close friends and family members. If booze isn’t your thing, there are plenty great of non-alcoholic options to stock your bar with. That said, below is our list of go-tos:
- White or Dark Rum
- Bourbon Whiskey
- Scotch Whisky
- Sweet Vermouth
- Dry Vermouth
- Wine (red, white or rose!)
We think our craft cocktail mixer, Owl’s Brew, is the perfect addition to any home bar. From simply mi Owl’s Brew with your favorite spirit, to using it as a base to build a cocktail that incorporates multiple ingredients, it’s the perfect solution for all your at-home cocktail creations. We also love the mixers and syrups from our friends over at Jack Rudy, Hella Bitters and American Juice Company.
Cocktail Recipe Books
Diffords is a timeless classic. We also love the Dead Rabbit cocktail book, Shake, and anything written by our friend Warren Bobrow. We should also mention (ahem) that we wrote a book last October, Wise Cocktails, which includes all our favorite tea cocktails — both from scratch (if you are feeling very DIY), as well as with using our Owl’s Brew mixers as a base.
So there you have it! Everything you ever wanted to know about an at-home bar. Set yours up today, get creative, sip pretty, and celebrate. Cheers to you!