Next St. Patrick’s Day, celebrate at home…

Céad míle fáilte, or “100,000 Welcomes” in Irish! As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, let’s talk a little bit about home bars. 

Cocktail culture is showing no signs of waning. Home bars have continued to surge in popularity. 

I can remember being a youngster, and both my grandparents and their next door neighbors had home bars in their basements, and they used to trade out hosting big game nights and movie nights at each other’s houses. That’s still happening today, although the rising trend is that home bars are getting more sophisticated in their collections and in their decor and appointments.

Both my grandparents’ bar and their neighbor’s bar were standalone furniture pieces with a couple of bar stools and below-bar storage plopped down in their basements. My grandparents had a pool table in the basement; the neighbors had a ping-pong table. Both had small, by today’s standards, TVs and a stereo system. 

Today’s home bars are worlds apart from those from the 1970’s and 80’s. They’re well-appointed rooms with, sure, maybe a pool or ping pong table, but more comprehensively decked-out amenities complimenting sophisticated liquor, wine, and beer offerings that are more inline with the times. My family’s bar didn’t have a fridge or running water– you had to go upstairs for that– and no way to wash glasses or access ice. All of that is changing with modern bar setups. 

Many spirits, beer, and wine-loving homeowners are centering their home bar setups around their favorite libations. 

Here in Louisville, we’re in bourbon country, and home bourbon bars are super popular. To create a home bourbon lounge, one of the key parts of the decor should be shelves to display the varied and beautiful bottles of the amber spirit. These shelves should be well-lit to show off the bottles. The bar should be well-stocked with rocks glasses, shot glasses, Old-Fashioned glasses, and Manhattan glasses. (Fun fact: the Bourbon Old-Fashioned originated here in Louisville at the Pendennis Club at 218 Muhammad Ali Blvd.)

For a bourbon-lounge feel, you’ll want to invest in not only comfortable lounge seating (leather chairs and couches, anyone?) but possibly also some bistro tables for intimate face-to-face encounters. Give the space a speakeasy vibe with low lighting, warm painted walls, and lots of wood detailing.

Outside of Kentucky, perhaps the most popular spirits-forward home bars center around tequila and agave collections. Tequila and its cousins remind us of vacations to the tropics, and who wouldn’t want to recreate that feel in the comfort of their own home? Like with the bourbon bar, create well-lit shelving to display the bottles you’ve sourced from your travels south of the border.

But unlike the cozy bourbon home bar, the decor of a tequila-forward home bar should be more vibrant and colorful. Last time my husband and I traveled to Mexico, we brought home a whole set of glassware, thick glass, swirled with blue accents, for our home margaritas, tequila shots, and various rum cocktails (another fun collection is a diverse array of light, dark, and spiced rums). 

A tropical-themed home bar benefits from access to the outside, whether that’s just ample windows or actually an outside space where cocktails can be enjoyed al fresco. Lounge by the pool or hot tub, with easy access to a well-appointed bar featuring running water and a fridge for storing fruit juices and making ice, and it’s a mini-vacation without leaving home.

Home kegerators are becoming less expensive and more popular, allowing you to turn your home bar space into a brewhouse. You can purchase kegs of beer or half-kegs at your local brewhouse or liquor store and serve up pints of frothy beer right in the comfort of your own basement or designated bar space. A keg of beer will stay fresh anywhere from 90-120 days if properly stored and dispensed. 

Wine cellars have been a thing for centuries or more, but modern-day wine fridges are, like kegerators, dropping in price and give your ordinary wine aficionado an opportunity to collect bottles and keep them at the proper temperature for storage and best serving. 

Home bars are a great draw for entertaining family and friends at your home. Bigger-than-my-grandparents’-tvs, comfortable seating, inviting decor, and the proper storage for your wines, beers, and spirits will make you the friend whose invites are coveted. Not to mention the fact that home imbibing will likely save you money when it comes to going out to the bars, restaurants, and clubs. 

Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day. 100,000 welcomes to your home bar setup!