If you do a lot of entertaining and have a little extra space in your home, you might consider converting a portion of it – a basement, unused formal dining room, or spare living room – into a bar or entertainment area. But making a good, fully functional home bar is about more than just putting up a nice bar top and stools and busting out your cocktail shaker. So before you start your project, here are a few fun grown up toys you might want to consider including and why.
A bar sink is something seriously worth considering when it comes to building a home bar, either built into the prep station behind your bar or directly into the bar itself. Why? Chances are, if you’re building your bar in an odd space – like a basement or even a garage – you might not have an existing sink, which means you’d have to leave the room to rinse fruit, wash glasses, or even to do a decent job of mopping down your bar. Even a very small sink like this Cordial Sink from Kohler gives you access to running water and a drain to dump down if you need it.
Trough-style sinks like this Allegany Bar Sink from Sierra Copper are also really great for a home bar, this time built right into the bar itself. The hand pounded copper finish is beautiful enough to accent even a really nice bar top, it’s easy to clean, and it’s slightly sloped for easy draining. Just pack it with ice and throw in a few bottles or cans (or even a chilled appetizer or two), sit back and enjoy the game while the bar sink tends to your guests for you.
Get It: If you have relatively easy access to nearby plumbing.
Skip It: If rerouting your plumbing, or relocating your project to be near it isn’t feasible or would significantly increase the cost of your project.
Wine Cooler/Wine Cellar
If you have more than a few bottles of wine on hand at a time, if you and your friends can put away more than a few bottles of wine at a time, or if you’re simply looking to start nurturing a wine collection, a built in wine cooler can be an excellent addition to a home bar. Ranging in size from smaller-than-a-mini-fridge to the size of a full refrigerator, wine coolers are great for keeping wine in a climate controlled environment to mature – and at the ideal serving temperature. Larger models can hold upwards of 200 bottles in a motion-dampened, UV-proof, climate controlled space, and are an excellent alternative to full sized wine cellars. Smaller models do the same job for a dozen bottles or fewer, which is best if you’re a more casual wine drinker, or if you just want to keep part of a larger collection on hand to save trips down into an existing wine cellar. For someone with a medium sized, mixed selection, look for something like this Dual Zone from Marvel that houses white and red wines in separate temperatures.
Get It: If you’re a bottle of wine or two with dinner kind of person.
Skip It: If you’re a bottle of wine on a special occasion kind of person.
There’s no better way to really complete a home bar than to install your own tap, and a kegerator is the simplest way to do so. Entirely self contained, kegerators are essentially mini fridges (many of them can actually be converted back into fridges as needed) with a tap on top, room inside for a keg and a canister of CO2, and all the hardware to connect them all built in. Individual kegerators can have as many as 3 taps, though the more varieties of beer you want to serve from a single kegerator, the smaller your kegs will need to be. This Half Keg Beer Dispenser builds right in to your counter and can hold a half keg of beer at the perfect serving temperature (just above freezing) for 2 months or 175 12 oz glasses, whichever comes first.
Because they have their own built in, refillable CO2 supplies, home kegerators will store your beer properly and at the ideal serving temperature, and give you both an authentic tap taste and an authentic tavern look and feel. This Dual Tap from Summit can be adjusted up to three taps in a variety of finishes, whether you want all modern steel or wood and brass for something with a little more pub style.
Get It: To turn your home into the local watering hole, show off your pouring skills, or just have your favorite brew the way you were meant to drink it.
Skip It: If you aren’t able to find someone local to refill your carbon tank affordably, or if you don’t drink enough beer to empty a keg before it goes bad.
There are a couple different kinds of beverage coolers – the full sized ones you’d find in a mini mart, which I wouldn’t particularly recommend for a home bar, and smaller, under-the-counter types like this Beverage Cooler that are much better suited to a residential setting. Even if you have an extensive home tap, you can’t always have everything on tap, and not everything needs the sophisticated temperature control of a home wine cellar. For bottled beer, soda, mixers, or just spare water bottles, a beverage cooler is a good way to organize bottled or canned drinks and keep them cooled.
Get It: If you need to keep a lot of bottles or cans cooled and on hand at all times, or if your mini fridge doesn’t neatly accommodate tall bottles.
Skip It: If you’re primarily going to stick with a tap or wine cellar rather than mixing cocktails, or if you have a separate mini fridge with enough space to store your mixers.
This is the one appliance that I’ll admit flirts with frivolity. After all, ice is pretty cheap and if you have an ice machine in your main refrigerator, it’s not all that hard to bring a bucket. That said, if you serve a lot of mixed drinks, or host a lot of parties that last longer than you’re able to keep your ice frozen, installing an ice machine like this Crescent Cube Ice Maker into your bar’s prep area can save you a lot of back and forth, and keep you fully stocked in ice all day and night.
Get It: If you’re ready to throw your ice bucket out the window.
Skip It: If you don’t do a lot of mixed drinks, or if routing a water line to your bar area would be cost prohibitive (though it’s worth noting this would be much less expensive than the full plumbing setup of a bar sink).
The last bastion of home bar-dom – if you skip everything else on this list, you’ve got to at least get yourself a mini fridge. Why? Well, they’re more versatile than almost any other home bar specific appliance, and if you’re going to be entertaining, chances are you’re going to need a little chill – cold drinks, cold mixers, chilled fruits for garnish, or even just a cheese or veggie platter or a tub of dip. Something like this Mini Fridge won’t take up much space, can install either under the counter or anywhere else in the room, and only need a single outlet to function. Plus, some of them even have small freezers for a couple trays of ice if you’d rather not have a dedicated ice maker.
Get It: If you have the space, or if you skip out on something else mentioned here.
Skip it: If you just admitted to yourself you’d rather have a lounge room than a home bar.
What do you consider must-haves for your home bar? Let me know in the comments!