A brilliant home bar makes for a major decor statement, but don’t discount its powers to turn a bad day into a joyful evening, a drop-in from friends into a laughter-filled late night, or an awkward dinner date into a relaxed conversation over nightcaps.
And let’s be clear right away: a bar (or even bar cart) is not essential, so stop right now with the “I don’t have the space” excuse. We turned to the hostesses with the most, the talented Georgie Hambright and Jennifer Hunter of J+G Design, to share their southern hospitality-informed wisdom on getting this set-up right. Not surprisingly, they delivered.
There’s no rule that says you need an official bar cart; all you need is some cleared-off horizontal space (a sideboard or console is perfect, or if you have extra counter space in the kitchen, that’s just as well). And when it comes to liquor choices, value quality over quantity. Hunter and Hambright happily judge booze by its cover – fun bottle shapes, colorful labels, and rich hues reign supreme. And don’t underestimate the power of a sophisticated crystallized glass decanter to turn less-than-top shelf spirits into a stunning part of your vignette.
Yes Virginia, any horizontal surface can be a bar.
Keep things balanced.
All those beautiful liquors deserve a glass that’s just as special but is meant to last far longer than the last of the bourbon. “Keep your glassware and decanters clean and simple,” they urge. “You’ll have these pieces forever, so staying classic is best. That’s why we love the SNOWE pieces.” (Thanks, ladies!)
An heirloom-quality decanter makes any drink so much more special.
Make it personal.
“Design your bar like you would a space in your home,” J+G advise. “You want a mix of materials to make things feel curated, collected, interesting, and personal.” That means thinking about infusing different textures and colors – clearly, the designers’ traditional-with-a-twist taste is at play here with the painted tortoiseshell tray, Chinese porcelain dish, and miniature cloisonné vase (holding matches, of course, for an especially clever touch). But if your style runs more minimal, you’ll be looking at a white lacquer tray and a simple bud vase. Make sure to pull accessories from other rooms in your home to keep it cohesive with the rest of your space.
Toasting to health, happiness, and seriously stunning glassware.
Let there be light.
We were completely charmed by their use of SNOWE’s Taste Maker candle – one little touch that goes a long way in giving a bar area the kind of swanky, sexy glow you might expect in a boutique hotel bar. “It’s a must,” they confirm. “It instantly makes your home feel warm and welcoming.”
Setting the mood with notes of orange blossom and cedar wood.
Be prepared to whip something up.
We’ll call this the most important tenant of a great home bar: a great house recipe. Hunter and Hambright share their “Maple Bourbon Smash,” their seasonal twist on the Old Fashioned, which is our new go-to cocktail for fall.
Squeeze! Mixing up a citrusy cocktail is a guaranteed mood-lifter.
Maple Bourbon Smash
- 1/2 ounce pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A Dark Amber
- 1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
- 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 4 dashes of Angostura bitters
- 1/2 orange wheel
- 2 ounces bourbon
- Ice cubes
- 1 1/2 ounces chilled seltzer
In a short tumbler, combine the maple syrup with the orange juice, lemon juice and bitters. Add the orange wheel and lightly muddle. Add the bourbon and stir well. Fill the glass with ice and top with the chilled seltzer. Serve with a crisp linen cocktail napkin.