From the days of the first speakeasies to the man caves of today, millions have realized the dream of having their own home bar. Of course, it’s not just enough to have a corner of your basement to sit lonely sipping on a cocktail under the pale light of a single light bulb, wondering if drinking alone means you’re considered an alcoholic.

Having your own home bar also means you’re the place to be when your friends want to gather for a mature adult beverage. It might be a place where people get together to catch the big game, maybe it’s where you host watch parties with your friends, or maybe it’s a place to play some classic bar games without the high price coverage charges and tipping mixologists.

If you’re inspired to build your own home bar, in hopes of drawing friends and family to tip one back, but you don’t know where to start, then the following guide is for you.

Choose Your Spot Wisely

Where you want to put your home bar is a decision you should make based on now, and into the future. If you’re planning to have kids in a year or two, the living room might not be the best idea. Lowball glasses and Legos hiding in the carpet just don’t mix.

If there’s even the slightest chance of little ones invading your life in the near future, then you’re going to choose a lesser-used spot, in a part of the house that you can control. Especially when those little ones start hitting the teenage years.

For many people, this makes the basement, or a garage converted into a living space a good option. Though if you’re blessed with a spare room with a lockable door, that’s certainly an option.

Whatever room you choose, you’ll probably want access to some or all of the following things.

  • TV lines
  • Good internet access
  • Outlets for all lighting & devices
  • Space for a traditional bar
  • Shelving
  • Storage space for bottles, coolers, and kegs
  • Access to water and/or ice

Decide on the Type of Bar

There are two types of home bars you find. The traditional stand behind bar lets you dispense drinks, while people lean in to bend your ear and you show off all the moves you learned watching the movie Cocktail. There’s a lot of traditional appeal to this type of bar setup, but it also eats up a lot of space for the barman.

A wet bar is more compact. It’s essentially a counter-up against a wall or a central island like you might find in a conventional kitchen. This is more of a self-service bar. It’s not as traditional, but it still lets you show off your mixologist skills, without eating up a ton of square footage. With some careful planning, you can even add storage to help you keep drinkware and other cocktail accessories.

Decide on the Type of Shelving

Shelves are an important component of most home bars. They’re a place to let you display your best bottles. You can even add accent lights to enhance the ambiance, or create a display case.

Glass shelves have a certain level of elegance to them. Yet they can be fragile and might not have the weight capacity that you want to push. Wood shelves are sturdy and give a bar a classic western feel.

Adjustable shelves with discrete track systems and brackets make it easy for you to change the height of your shelves. This is great for times when you need to rotate stock, or you’re bringing in a few special bottles for a special event.

Do I Need a Liquor Cabinet in My Home Bar?

If you have curious kids who can reach a shelf, and you have no way to lock the door when you don’t have eyes on them, then a liquor cabinet is a wise move. Though it doesn’t have to be a liquor vault a tasteful tall cabinet with glass windows lets your adult friends see what’s on display. You can then pull out bottles as you see fit for the occasion.

To Keg or Not to Keg That Is The Question

Having a cold beer on tap is a very attractive feature for a home bar. Especially if you want to have friends over to watch the big game. In the past though, installing a keg, with all the plumbing and cooling features you need to do it right was expensive.

In recent years inventions like kegerators and home brew mini keg kits have made it possible for you to install a keg in your home bar without breaking the bank. Though you’ll need to be mindful of the dimensions. Make sure that the refrigerator or other cooling device will fit through the door, or you’ll be looking at some expensive drywall repair.

Important Accessories for Your Home Bar

The following are some important accessories that you might want to consider adding to your home bar. When considering what to add, consider what your life, what your guests like, and what some of your family members might enjoy when they visit your new home bar.

A Wine Preservation Device

When you pull wine from your wine cellar, from the instant your pop a cork, the wine inside the bottle starts to oxidize and degrade. A wine preservation device lets you extract wine through the cork a glass at a time while replacing it with argon or another inert gas. Some of the best ones are basically just built-in wine dispensers with small taps and temperature controls.

A Wine Chiller or Mini Fridge

A lot of beverage favorites and mixers are best if kept cold. Having a wine chiller for bottles of white wine, seltzer drinks and soda bottles of popular mixers keeps beverages cool. It also spares you the indignity of always having to keep a cooler in your bar.

An Ice Maker & Dispenser

Portable ice maker technology has arrived in the 20th Century. Having one in your home bar lets you make ice any time. Without having to worry about running a water line or investing in complicated plumbing features.