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Home Is Where The Bar Is

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Always wanted a fancy home bar like the ones you’ve seen in the movies? Purva Indulkar guides you on how to make one from scratch

We’ve all seen those glamorous houses in Bollywood films that have a posh bar in the living room, with polished marble table tops, crystal clear glasses hanging upside down and a fully stocked cabinet with alcohol from all over the world. It’s the perfect accessory for throwing spontaneous parties. While you may have a tidy apartment of your own, having a full-blown home bar still seems like a distant dream. But it doesn’t have to be! At not that much cost, some in-depth research and a little creativity, you can have a suave home station for whenever you want to unwind with some cocktails after a long week. But remember, it’s not the size of the bar that counts; even a tiny bar can be bedecked with the best alcohol! Here’s how to build a bar for your home.


The first step is to identify your favourite booze. Think about what you order when you head to a bar, what gives you a kick and what helps you relax. Of course, stock up on champagne for special occasions. Read up on different kinds of alcohol, but don’t rush to buy a bottle. First acquaint yourself with a handful of cocktail and mocktail recipes that you can make with a certain type of alcohol. That way, an expensive bottle won’t sit in your bar cabinet collecting dust. Buy some cocktail recipe books or look online for interesting cocktail recipes and then buy the alcohol that most of those have in common.


Looking for some books that offer recipes, tips, tricks and interesting jargon about popular drinks? Here are our favourites.

  • The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails by Steve Reddicliffe (Rs 1,400)
  • Shake. Stir. Sip. by Kara Newman (Rs 800)
  • The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Cocktails by André and Tenaya Darlington (Rs 1,100)
  • The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff (Rs 1,800)
  • Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle (Rs 700)
  • Cocktails of the Movies: An Illustrated Guide to Cinematic Mixology by Will Francis and Stacey Marsh (Rs 1,200)


Once you’ve decided which cocktails you want to make and ingredients to buy, it’s time to focus on the bar tools that you will need. When buying bar tools, it’s easy to get swept away by the intricate detailing or gold-plated designs, but keep in mind that the perfect tools offer precise measurement ratios, they help in mixing the cocktail and they make an exact garnish. Go back to the material you read about in your favourite cocktail recipes and see which tools were used. Buy the ones that you will be able to use in various cocktail recipes.


Here are a few tools that every liquor-lover must have in their home bar.

  • Ice bucket and scoop
  • Decanter
  • Corkscrew
  • Jigger (alcohol measuring device)
  • Cocktail shaker and strainer
  • Muddler and mixing spoon
  • Cocktail sticks, coasters, napkins and straws


The next step to creating a lively home bar is to have the right glassware for your drinks. You can’t serve all your drinks in the same type of glass! It’s time you get a little more acquainted with the art of mixing cocktails. To start off have a small set of highball glasses, Collins glasses, glasses for red and white wine, champagne flutes and Old Fashioned glasses. Read up on these so you know exactly what you’re buying and what to look for when you go to a glassware store.

A highball or Collins glass can be used when you’re serving something cold and refreshing with lots of ice. Use an Old Fashioned glass for drinks made in the glass itself or for some scotch on the rocks. Of course, champagne and wine glasses are for champagne and wine respectively.


The most important aspect of any home bar really is the liquor that you stock. And since this collection is at home, it can and should be tailored to your taste. If you want to try classic recipes, it’s best to stock up on trustworthy favourites such as bourbon, brandy, gin, rum (light, dark or spiced), scotch, tequila, vodka and whisky (Canadian, rye or Irish whisky).

You can have a go-to drink, one that you have lots of, but if you want to throw a party or master cocktail-mixing, we suggest experimenting with a variety of liquors. It would also make sense to have a selection of liqueurs such as Amaretto, Chambord and coffee liqueur to add an edge to your drinks. And don’t forget to stock up on beer at all times!


Here are a few additions you can make to your home bar, which will turn you into a cocktail connoisseur.

  • Mixers: Stock juices, sodas and pre-bottled mixes to add to your cocktails.
  • Garnish: Always have lemons, limes and oranges. You can peel, wedge or slice them before a party. Also keep sugar cubes, olives, maraschino cherries and herbs handy.
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