It finally happened even though you swore it never would. You reached a point in your life where the bar scene just doesn’t cut it anymore. Maybe you’re locked down and out of the dating pool or maybe you want to protect what structural integrity your eardrums have left.
Either way, you don’t have to say goodbye to your buddies. Build yourself a home bar and invite them over. Not much beats a DIY home bar, where your favorite brews are always on tap and a round of top-shelf shots won’t cost as much as a monthly car payment.
So if you’re thinking about carving out a watering hole to call your own, check out this list of essentials you’ll need to be the envy of your drinking buddies.
Wet or dry?
The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to build a wet bar or a dry bar. Dry bars are ideal for locations that don’t have water lines, but wet bars with sinks make cleanup a snap—there’s no need to haul a bunch of dishes to the kitchen. Wet bars can also accommodate an icemaker, essential if you or your friends like their drinks on the rocks.
Building the bar
For a custom look, check out the variety of bar plans and video tutorials online. You’ll need basic construction materials and tools, but if carpentry isn’t your strong suit, you can also use ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets topped with a striking counter made of wood or granite, or something a little more impressive like quartz, bamboo or recycled glass. Standard bar height is 42 inches, with a 16- to 20-inch wide counter overhanging at least 8 inches (of course, the more knee room, the better). And don’t forget the railing—you can use anything from classic brass to refurbished steel pipes.
Whether you build from scratch or modify cabinetry, your bar will need attractive molding edging the counter to provide a nice armrest and prevent spills from leaking onto the floor. Many bar molding designs come precut to fit a bar top, so all you’ll need is a hammer, nails, sandpaper and varnish to finish it off.
Selecting bar stools is where you can really let your creativity shine: backs or no backs, swivel or stationary, cushioned or hard seat, utilitarian or formal designs. The only standard to follow is the height, as most bar stools are 30 inches tall. But don’t assume all bar stools are created equal—many are sold several inches taller or shorter, so be sure to read all the specs before buying.
Another fun way to show off your style is with your tap handles. Here at Bullets2Bandages, we offer a variety of unique tap handles, from the Brass .50 Caliber to our burly 30mm options made from real once-fired casings and replica projectiles. Custom engraving is included. DIY experts advise to install at least one more tap than you think you’ll need, but don’t assume you need to make room in your bar for full-size kegs—depending on the type, most beer only stays fresh for a month or two. Most home bars use 5-gallon kegs, but your drinking habits and buddies may vary.
Lighting the way
Unless you’re going for the dive bar look, your home bar will need lighting that strikes a balance between ambience and pragmatism (you can’t be a cocktail master if you can’t even read labels). Fortunately, you don’t need to be an electricity whiz or hire an expert. LED strip kits are an easy and affordable option, coming in several colors, adjustable lengths, and even adhesive backs for quick installation. And of course, all the money you’ll save using energy-efficient LEDs means more bottles on your shelves.
Back bar basics
Speaking of bottles, don’t forget about the back bar when designing your home bar. Open shelves that display a variety of liquor is a popular option, along with large framed mirrors to give the illusion of extra space. Textured panels or tiles are another way to create a striking look—even a few square feet of them will add dimension and class.
Tools of the trade
Aside from the actual liquor, the most crucial addition to a DIY bar is a well-stocked supply of tools. Shakers, muddlers, bar spoons, jiggers, bottle openers and strainers are what separate the amateur home bartender from the envied pro. And while you might not think there’s much variety when it comes to the basics, there are hundreds of ways to show off your personality, like our wide range of bullet bottle openers.
Cheers! You’re done!
Once your home bar is complete, you can invite your friends over for an inaugural drink with one of our upcycled six-shooter shot glasses or Bullets2Bandages pint glasses. But there’s one last thing to remember about being a home bar owner—expect a lot of compliments, but don’t expect any tips!