Update Your Bar


By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

A while back, I wrote a story about how to build a bar cart for your home. The bar cart I described at the time was the kind you might place in your living room. It’s great for entertaining as it contains all of the basics and can likely help you, as a host, accommodate your guests. Perhaps it includes a generic bottle of good quality whiskey as well as a bottle each of vodka, gin, tequila, and rum. Maybe it has some tonic, an ice bucket that takes up a ton of space, and a small bowl in which to keep lemons and limes.

But what if you live in a small apartment? What if you live alone and don’t often entertain? Or, what if you’ve got the space to keep a large liquor cabinet filled, but also want to have an easily accessible bar filled with only your favorite items?

Well, for now, I am fortunate enough to fall into the last category. I live in a house with my family and the communal space contains all kinds of liquor, liqueur, and mixers perfect for entertaining large groups. I do, however, like to keep a small bar tray in my bedroom both for decorative purposes and for easy access to some of my favorite spirits.

Because I don’t often drink rum or tequila, I keep those bottles in the communal area. Components that ought to be refrigerated are excluded from the tray (except for that bottle of definitely oxidized sweet vermouth I should have removed months ago) and I don’t use an ice bucket. There’s always ice in my freezer and citrus fruits in my refrigerator. If I need those items, the kitchen isn’t too terribly far away.

Making fancy concoctions requires a knife or a peeler, a cutting board, and frankly, a kitchen. Instead, I use my tray in the way I imagine folks did in the 1950s and ‘60s when mini bars were wildly popular both at home and at work. A quick drink can be thrown together standing right over my bar tray.

My stemless wine glasses double as old-fashioned glasses and I have several kinds of whiskey to choose from: two kinds of bourbon, an abundance of Canadian whisky (my favorite), as well as two kinds of scotch. I keep two bottles of vodka and a bottle of gin there, too. Whenever I am not in the mood for whiskey, I’m likely looking for vodka or gin instead. I keep a shaker here for decoration, but I don’t use it. This tray is specifically for consuming my drinks neat.

With this in mind, my advice is to update your home bar(s) in any way that makes sense to you. There’s no need to make the cart formulaic. If you don’t drink rum and most of your friends don’t either, there’s truly no reason that you must have it on hand. If you have a small space, keep your favorites.

If you’re entertaining, just prepare in advance. A bottle of unopened green chartreuse doesn’t need to occupy space just for the “what if” factor. Replace it with something you use all the time. If it were my bar, I’d put a bottle or two of bitters in its stead.

Your home bar should be for you. It is Selfie Week, after all.