The Home Bar
Over lockdown I have found myself transformed like a phoenix rising from the ashes, from a miserable Scottish curmudgeon to a happy go lucky Southerner geezer who sees the positives in everything. As part of this uncharacteristic transformation, I am constantly espousing the virtues and positives coming out of the Great Lockdown of 2020 and my list is as long and varied as it is ridiculous and worthy.
You will be glad to read that piece is not a long banal list of predictable upsides to regaining lost time but a reflection of the one thing that I think might just stick when all of this unfortunateness is well and truly over, The Home Bar, or should I say bars.
Having thought, talked, looked at and generally been around booze for pretty much my whole adult life and much of my non-adult life you might have thought I would have considered my home bar and with hindsight I am slightly ashamed that this has not been more of a focal point when setting up home.
This brings me onto the matter at hand, the home bar and the 7 lessons that I have learnt from going from any old bottles in a cupboard in the kitchen, to fully curated and handsomely stocked multi-bar household.
Location, Location, Location
Think long and hard about the location and position of your bar within the room and even consider whether you are able and willing to have separate specialist bars throughout your house. Should your fine collection of rums really sit next to those lesser bottles of gin just off the still? Also, remember that a good-sized bathroom is not off limits to display your favourite tipples.
Whatever anybody tells you, the drinks that you display on your bar say just as much about you as any bag or watch that you wear, so give real consideration to the brands that make up the majority of your bar. Start with the staples and with brands that will never compromise on quality. With a smattering of new, yet credible, brands your bar will give just the right impression of your taste and sophistication.
If you are putting it out there on-show, then you must be ready for somebody to throw you a curve ball and request something that clearly separates the grown-ups from the kids. To make sure that you aren’t caught short and can catch that rogue ball, jump onto YouTube and watch an irresponsible amount of Greg at How to Drink. Now, there will be nothing you’re not prepared for.
Have a particular passion and interest in at least one drink type and collect a wide array of brands and products that give you scope to show off your knowledge of a particular, and hopefully much misaligned, drink. For now, my go to areas of interest are of course Aperitivo’s, less on-trend Vodka (time for a comeback) and never-quite-been-on-trend-in-my- lifetime, Brandy. Having a specialism is great but don’t let this take away the importance of trying to discover new and interesting brands outside of your particular chosen tipple.
Finally, and probably most importantly learn how to put your ingredients to best use and encourage your guests to leave their drinks in your capable hands. Practice makes perfect so pick a cocktail and conquer it, then move on to the next until you have a veritable library of recipes firmly soaked into your memory.
What’s the point of having a great bar if your collection lets the whole team down? A bit like your record or book collection out on display, your choices say so much about your personal style and interests. Once you have acquired the basics, then you can really start to flex your new skills and knowledge by curating and displaying your personal favourites. Whether it’s the ingredients, glassware and garnishes to a particular cocktail range that you’ve perfected, home-made tonics or vintage accessories and accoutrements. It’s a big wide world out there waiting for you to hunt, gather and bring indoors for the pure enjoyment of family and friends.
Making a cocktail for oneself, with all the bells and whistles, to enjoy alone with your favourite playlist is one of the most satisfying ways to slow down time and recharge. A must have in the home bar repertoire.