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Dreaming of setting up a home bar? Here's what you can do

Dreaming of setting up a home bar? Here's what you can do

Do you want to offer guests a signature cocktail and show off your mixology skills on your next get-together? Set up a home bar and up your game

Do you want to offer guests a signature cocktail and show off your mixology skills on your next get-together? Set up a home bar and up your game Do you want to offer guests a signature cocktail and show off your mixology skills on your next get-together? Set up a home bar and up your game

When Shweta and Ajay Prasad were renovating their south Delhi home, just before the pandemic, they decided to convert a part of their hall into a bar. “A home bar. A place where I could entertain my guests as well as have date nights,” says 42-year-old Shweta, a senior marketing executive with a leading multinational. A few months later, the pandemic hit, along with the resultant lockdowns. “Bars didn’t open for several months post the lockdown. We really enjoyed our home bar. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we have taken,” she smiles.

The Prasads are not alone. Indians have traditionally always liked to entertain at home and, having a proper bar, as compared to a few alcohol bottles in a cupboard, just adds to the charm of it. Delhi-based SpeedX Bars which sells ready-made bars has seen business increase 10x in the past two and a half years. “We were selling 30 units a month in mid-2020, and are now selling 300 units a month,” says Co-founder Anirudh Singhal. SpeedX has 14 models and the average price is Rs 50,000. The brand is available online on its own website as well as through Tata CliQ, Pepperfry and Amazon. Singhal says that buying a bar has now become an impulsive decision. “We get queries from customers if the bar can be delivered within 24 hours as they suddenly decided to host a party and it would be great for them to have a bar.” Singhal is in the process of tying up with Amazon for its 24-hour Prime delivery.

So what should you look out for if you decide to have a home bar? First, depending on space, you need to take a call on whether you want a free-standing bar (a dedicated bar counter complete with bar stools behind which you can display your cocktail-making skills) or a bar cabinet. “If you are short on space just go for a bar as a piece of furniture. This can be a cupboard or a cabinet,” says Shalini Misra, a London-based interior designer who divides her time between London and India. She ideally designs them 1.6 metres in height. Her focus is on the cupboard doors. These can have art on them, or framed fabric or even mirrors. “We always use beautiful handles because they tell a different story,” she says. The inside of the cupboard doors are used for storage of glasses or bottles. At around 90 cm in height, there is a pull-out table. “This becomes your workstation. Below that there are two or three drawers for other equipment and then the wine rack,” says Misra.

If, on the other hand, you have the space, then a part of the room can be made into a bar. The minimum space required is 1 metre, which can accommodate two stools. Singhal, who besides selling ready-made bars also customises home bars, says the sky is the limit when it comes to designing a home bar and it all depends on your budget and the space you have. One of his most interesting projects was in Ahmedabad where the younger generation living in a joint family wanted a bar but were respectful of the reservations of the older generation and, therefore, did not want the alcohol to be seen. Singhal’s team used hydraulic presses which at the touch of a button would bring the bottles to bar level, else they were hidden from sight. He also recently designed a bar inside a swimming pool at a farmhouse in Delhi. “One of my most challenging projects was designing a bar on the 36th floor of a corporate house in Mumbai. That’s where the helipad is. The wind factor is so high you feel you will be blown away,” says Singhal.

The ideal height of a bar is 4 ft so that when you sit on a stool your elbows can rest on the bar. Singhal says there is a demand for beer on tap at home bars but since beer kegs are still not available in India for sale, they don’t really work.

When setting up the physical bar you also need to decide whether it’s going to be a wet bar (that is one with a drainage connection) or a dry bar. Another thing to look out for is if you want a mini fridge or an ice dispenser at the bar.

Once your physical bar is ready, it is time to set it up. “Start by planning out your work area,” suggests Vikram Achanta, Founder and CEO of beverage training and consultancy firm Tulleeho. For beginners he recommends purchasing basic bar equipment that includes a three-piece shaker, a peg measurer and a strainer. “Invest in some nice ice trays. A 2-inch chunk of ice makes a great impression for the drinks,” he says. Ideally the bar should have six glasses of each of the following styles—old fashioned, highball, stem (copa-style) glasses and wine glasses. “This will take care of most of your cocktail needs,” says Achanta.

Then comes the most important part of a bar—the alcohol. “How much and what quality alcohol you store will depend completely upon personal taste and spend,” remarks Achanta. However, there should be at least a bottle each of a base spirit like gin or vodka. This will help make basic cocktails like martinis and negronis. A white rum like Bacardi is essential for a mojito, and, of course, no bar in India can be without whisky, considering we are one of the largest whisky-drinking nations. “Have a bottle of Scotch, an entry-level single malt and an Irish whisky,” suggests Achanta. You can also have a couple of liqueurs such as Cointreau or absinthe for variety. If you have more space, add a bottle of tequila or mezcal.

Besides sugar syrups and lime juice, Achanta proposes having fresh juice. “Have fresh orange juice with gin,” he says. Bitters are used to balance out the flavours in cocktails. In turn they bring out the different flavour profiles, add depth, and boost the character of a mixed drink. Get yourself a bottle of Angostura bitters or an orange or a chocolate one (perfect to add in an old fashioned glass with whisky).

He also recommends having a small herb garden or just a few pots with herbs such as basil, thyme and mint growing next to the bar. “Pluck fresh leaves and use them as garnishes in your drinks,” he suggests.

Go ahead, get your bar set up and serve guests your signature cocktail at the next party. Remember, home is where the bar is.



Published on: Feb 05, 2023, 10:53 AM IST
Posted by: Arnav Das Sharma, Feb 05, 2023, 10:40 AM IST