Posted by Dan O'Malley in Home Design

Whether you’re an aspiring mixologist or are just trying to up your hosting game, a fully stocked home bar is a great addition to dinner parties or casual weekend evenings in.

Get our list of basics to have on hand and tips to set up your own bar at home!

Butler's Pantry Bar Area

Wet vs. Dry Bars

A wet bar is built with plumbing and a sink, which is helpful for easily rinsing and washing glasses and other bar equipment without having to lug it all to your kitchen.

A dry bar is a more affordable option that still allows you all the benefits of home bar entertaining, just without a sink.

Learn more about the differences of wet vs. dry bars and which is right for your home.

Wet Bar

How to Set Up a Home Bar: What You Should Always Have on Hand

Determine how you’ll use your home bar: with sizable groups or just a few people? Will you opt for a full cocktail bar or just a bar cart?

Even if you have a small bar area, you should still keep it fully stocked and ready to whip up a beverage.

How to Set Up a Small Home Bar

Creating an inviting and functional bar doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice space or aesthetic within your home. How you display your bar components can really make a difference in how much overall space is used.

A floating rack helps store bottles and glassware in an organized way, while also keeping fragile pieces at an elevated surface and away from being accidentally knocked over.

Wall hooks are another minimalistic way to store and display cups with handles.

A repurposed nightstand, small media cabinet, or sideboard are handy pieces of furniture to incorporate to conceal any bar tools or glassware that you don’t necessarily want on display.

Small Home Bar

The 5 Steps to Set Up a Full Home Bar

1. Choose Furniture

Wet Bar

2. Assemble a Cocktail Set

  • Shaker
  • Strainer
  • Long Spoon
  • Tongs
  • Jigger
  • Muddler
  • Corkscrew
  • Bottle Opener
Pouring a Mixed Drink

3. Purchase Equipment Basics

  • Glassware
  • Knife and Cutting Board
  • Cocktail Recipe Book
  • Cocktail Napkins
  • Containers for Ingredients
Glassware Set
Mixed Drink

4. Stock Up on Ingredients

  • Spirits
  • Mixers
  • Canned Ingredients (olives, cherries, etc.)
  • Fresh Ingredients (make a list but save purchasing these for right before you plan to use them)
Full Bar

5. Decorate

  • Choose a theme that fits into rest of the room where your bar is located
  • Go for inviting, cozy vibes
  • Personalize with decorations, colors, and pieces that are special to you!
Full Bar

Fully scope out your vision and choose the right setup for your bar.

If you opt for more of a wine sampling area, invest in one or two special wine bar pieces for chilling, storing, pouring, tasting, and pairing!

Wine BarWine Bar Area

Party Planning Tips to Show Off Your Home Bar

Now that your bar is installed, stocked up, and ready to go, here’s how to set it up for a party.

Practice and Prepare a Few New Drink Recipes for Guests

Ask for personal preferences for the right drinks for your guests. Here are 3 starter recipes that require minimal ingredients and tools:

Espresso Martini

  • 1oz Vodka or Tequila
  • 1oz Espresso
  • 1oz Coffee Liqueur
  • Espresso Bean Garnish

Moscow Mule

  • 2oz Vodka
  • ½ oz Lime Juice
  • 6oz Ginger Beer
  • Lime Slice Garnish

Aperol Spritz

  • 2oz Aperol
  • 3oz Prosecco
  • 1oz Club Soda
  • Orange Slice Garnish
Coconut MartiniCitrus Cocktail

Stock Up on Snacks

Finger foods work best so your guests don’t have to juggle a drink, a plate, and a utensil. Our favorite cocktail party snacks are charcuterie, appetizers, trail mix, chips, and chocolate (to pair with any kind of beverage!).

Choose a Theme

  • Game Day Party
  • Game Night
  • Girls’ Night In
  • “Stock the Bar” Party – this makes a great housewarming party idea! Request that each guest bring a bottle of their favorite alcohol. Now you'll have a stocked bar that you know will have some of your guests' favorites at all times.
CocktailsMaking Cocktails

Enjoy branching out and pushing your skills to try more drink recipes in your brand new space. You’ll be the go-to host in no time with your state-of-the-art home bar!

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Dan O'Malley
Dan O'Malley


Dan O’Malley is the Vice President of Product Development for M/I Homes.With over 30 years of expertise in residential architecture and design, Dan has been overseeing the product needs of the company's 16 divisions located throughout the Midwest, Southeast, Nashville and Texas for the past 12 years. Before joining M/I Homes, he was a partner in the Chicago office of BSB Design, a national residential architectural firm, for 14 years. Dan is an expert in all aspects of single-family and multifamily design and has received several awards for his successful projects. He is also a popular speaker at various industry events, including the International Builder’s Show, Midwest Builder’s Show, and Multi-Housing World.

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