Swizzle Club’s Guide to Setting up a Home Bar (2022)

Guide to setting up a home bar

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I love socializing with friends and family – and I thoroughly enjoy hosting dinner parties and having people over for drinks.

When it comes to serving cocktails, you need to think about presentation. Having the right home bar setup can truly elevate the experience for your guests.

If you’ve recently developed an appreciation for cocktails and you’re looking for advice on the items that you should have in your home bar, you’ve come to the right place!

Here are my recommendations for setting up a home bar.

Start With a Bar Cart

A bar cart can serve as a focal point when you’re making cocktails.

If you have the room, a full-sized bar can be charming but if you live in a small apartment or you don’t want to allocate a lot of space to your home bar setup, a bar cart is the way to go.

CharaHOME Bar Cart with 3 Tier Storage

CharaHOME Bar Cart with 3 Tier Storage

I love the simplicity of the CharaHOME Bar Cart with 3 Tier Storage. It has a minimalist, industrial esthetic that goes well in any room.

The bottom shelf is surrounded by a sturdy rail to keep your bottles and glassware in place. The middle shelf has rails for wine glass storage underneath but is otherwise open, providing easy access to bar towels, napkins, or any other accessories that you might choose to store there.

The top shelf is removable and doubles as a serving tray. The serving tray has iron handles and feels very well made.

The entire cart is on nylon wheels. Two of the castors can be locked to keep the cart from moving around but, when unlocked, the unit can easily be moved to any room.

Overall dimensions of the bar cart are 26” L x 18” W x 33” H and it weighs approximately 28 lbs.

Bar Mat, Towels, and Garnish Tray

Once you’ve selected a bar cart, there are a few additional things I recommend picking up.

You could get by without the items in this section but if you want to look like you know what you’re doing, these accessories will help you make cocktails like a pro!

ProTensils 12″ x 6″ Bar Mat

ProTensils 12

The first item I recommend picking up is a bar mat.

The ProTensils 12″ x 6″ Bar Mat will help you keep your service area neat. It clearly defines the area where you’ll make cocktails, and it will protect your bar cart’s surface from spills and moisture.

These mats are 12” L x 6” W so they should both fit on the top shelf of your bar cart. Arrange them end to end to create one long, narrow strip where you’ll pour drinks or align their long edges to create a square.

Utopia Bar Towels (12 Pack)

Utopia Bar Towels (12 Pack)

Next, you’ll want a few bar towels.

The Utopia Bar Towels (12 Pack) are exactly what you need for mopping up spills or giving your glasses a quick polish before you pour someone a drink.

These white towels measure 16” x 19”, are 100% cotton, and very absorbent. I recommend putting a neatly folded stack of these towels on the second shelf of your bar cart where they’re easily accessible. If one towel gets dirty, just toss it in the laundry and grab other one.

Ice Cooled Garnish Tray Bar Caddy

Tray Bar Caddy

The final item in this section is a garnish tray.

This ice cooled garnish tray bar caddy is a great place to store and display your supply of lime wedges, orange slices, maraschino cherries, olives, and any other garnish you’d like to use for making cocktails.

Using an ice-cooled bar caddy will keep your ingredients fresh for hours and it eliminates the clutter of having separate bowls or jars for each garnish.

Glasses

You’ll want to pick up some glasses.

It’s great to serve drinks in the right glasses but this is an area where you’ll want to prioritize. Don’t feel like you need to buy every type of glass right away. Think about the drinks you and your friends like – and buy glasses for those drinks first.

Do most of your friends drink beer or wine? Better pick up beer glasses and wine glasses. Do you plan on making simple mixed drinks like a gin and tonic or vodka cranberry? You’ll want a set of Collins glasses.

Here are some common types of glasses you’ll want to include in your home bar setup.

20 oz Pub Style Pint Glasses (Set of 4)

20 oz Pub Style Pint Glasses (Set of 4)

This set of 4 20 oz pub style pint glasses look exactly like the glasses at your local pub and they’ll hold a full imperial pint which makes them absolutely perfect any time friends drop by for a beer!

20 oz Wine Glasses (Set of 4)

There are many types of wine glasses available, but this set of 4 20 oz wine glasses will get you started. They’re simple, elegant, and will compliment any wine that you want to serve.

LEMONSODA Premium Highball Glasses (Set of 6)

LEMONSODA Premium Highball Glasses (Set of 6)

These 12 oz highball glasses (often called Collins glasses) come in a set of 6 and are perfect for making a variety of cocktails. These will likely become the most used glasses in your home bar setup.

Godinger Old Fashioned Whiskey Glasses (Set of 4)

Godinger Old Fashioned Whiskey Glasses (Set of 4)

Categorized as tumblers or rocks glasses, these 11 oz Godinger Old Fashioned Whiskey Glasses come in a set of 4. They’re lead free, dishwasher safe and made in Italy.

Cocktail Shaker Set

You can buy all of the components you’ll need to make cocktails separately, but it’s so much more convenient to buy the right cocktail shaker set and get everything you need in one package!

With that in mind, I recommend the Modern Mixology cocktail shaker set.

Modern Mixology Cocktail Shaker Set with Stand

Modern Mixology Cocktail Shaker Set with Stand

The Modern Mixology cocktail shaker set gives you everything you’ll need to start making cocktails like a pro! The set is built around an 18 oz cocktail shaker, Hawthorne strainer, double sided jigger, and bar spoon. It even comes with cocktail recipes in case you need some inspiration!

Ice Bucket

An ice bucket is a very useful addition to your home bar setup. You can fill it with ice for making drinks or you can use it to chill a bottle of wine. Just make sure you choose one that is big enough for your needs.

Bellemain Stainless Steel Ice Bucket

Bellemain Stainless Steel Ice Bucket

No more running back and forth to the kitchen! The Bellemain stainless steel ice bucket has an attractive brushed finish and will keep 3 quarts of ice frosty for up to 6 hours.

Are You Looking for More Gear Recommendations?

I hope you have found this article useful. There are plenty of other things you could buy for your home bar but these items will help you build a solid foundation.

Be sure to check out our gear page for more buyer’s guides and product reviews!

By Michael

Chief mixologist and cocktail enthusiast at Swizzle Club.