There was a time when a bar at home was meant to send out only one message: ‘Look at what I’ve got!’ That was in the bad old days when almost anything worth drinking had to be imported at great cost. So a glass-fronted bar was practically a necessity. You had to showcase your collection, didn’t you?
Today, however, a bar at home is not some sort of super showcase for the purpose of impressing guests. Instead, given our growing sophistication about various kinds of alcohol, it’s more about a display of connoisseurship. Because it’s not enough to have alcohol.
You have to know how to store it and serve it correctly. Which is why, says Rolly Gupta, director of the décor firm House of Raro, bar design has changed. “Today, people prefer bars that are integrated,” she says. What’s an integrated bar?
Well, rather than a showcase, it’s a kind of cabinet, with a service top and lots of storage options so that glasses and bottles can be kept in individual spaces designed for them. Plus, it has room for accessories, explains Gupta. “Since people drink all kinds of things like wine, Scotch, vodka and so on, integrated bars also have space for things like wine chillers and ice crushers,” she says.
The good thing about integrated bars is that they come in various sizes, so you can either have a huge one in a room set aside for the purpose, or adapt an existing cabinet or unused corner area of your home to accommodate a bar. For those who have the space, there’s nothing like dedicating an entire room to entertaining and entertainment
“Usually, large villas, houses or penthouses have independent spaces or rooms earmarked for bars,” says Punam Kalra, creative director, I’m, The Centre For Applied Arts. “These spaces have a multi-usage bar, home theatre and dance floor, and double up as entertainment areas. The bars are lavish, well stocked, well equipped with wine chillers, refrigerators, wash areas, ovens, tea and coffee maker, etc.
They could be done up either very flamboyantly in onyx stone, mirror and glass or as elegant statements in solid wood finishes.” You could also convert a room in your house into such an entertainment zone, as model Amanpreet Wahi has done. “The room isn’t very big, but it is comfortable enough for 25-30 people,” says Wahi.
“Since my husband and I are fond of entertaining, we needed a space like this. And a bar was an essential part of the lounge as my husband Raghav is fond of collecting rare whisky, whereas I enjoy wine. However, I decided to go in for something simple and small so that it could fit in well into the available space.” But many of us are not lucky enough to have room to spare for an entertainment zone. In which case you might like a bar that doubles up as something else, or doesn’t necessarily look like a bar. “The attempt is to create a compact but impactful piece that stocks liquor but does not come across as a bar,” explains Punam Kalra. “The top or a pull out tray can be used for making and serving drinks.”
If you have a dining cabinet, part of it could be converted into a bar. “Even a coffee table can be used as a small bar,” says Rolly Gupta. “This would be more feasible for a group of about four to six people and works best as an after-dinner bar where either whisky or cognac is served.” Other cabinets or sideboards also work, she adds.
“Sometimes you may find an unused corner at home that can convert into a bar,” says Kalra. “At times, dead spaces in a house can be very creatively used. For instance, the space under the staircase could be converted into a storage unit for your bottles, which could be complemented with a light bar counter in the front. The ingenuity lies in being able to combine practicality and a visual treat.”
You could even get a portable bar, as designed by interior designer Bobby Aggarwal of PortsideCafé. Made of leather and designed to look like an antique chest, the bar can be stored away or used as a decorative piece until it’s needed. “I got the idea from the wooden crates that are usually used to ship things,” says Aggarwal.
“When it’s opened, it reveals a well-stocked bar complete with glasses. And leather is not at all a high maintenance material. All you need to do is to keep it dry and dust free.” Leather is just one of the many materials that are now being used to create bars. There’s steel, glass, Italian marble, veneer and even semi-precious stones. But wood remains a favourite.
“These days bars are generally designed with a very modern look. Clean lines and practical usage options are the main criteria,” says Gupta. And if you have special needs, they can also be accommodated, as jewellery designer Rajul Jain learned.
“When I started looking around for bar designs, my main criterion was to get something modern and usable,” she says. “My husband collects vodka bottles that come in funny sizes and shapes, so I wanted special bottle space too. And I’m happy with what I got.”
Mix it well
Make some heady cocktails with this gin mixer, water pitcher and martini glass, all in green crystal by David Redman for House of Raro
Keep it cool
Enjoy a chilled drink any time of the day with this silver ice bucket and tongs that have been given a chased look to resemble a leaf. Available at Ravissant
Relax and enjoy your drink at leisure or just jazz up your home bar with this comfortable bar stool made of wood with a teak veneer. Available at Varya
Seal wine bottles with intriguing animal shaped bottle stoppers in sterling silver. Unicorn shaped bottle stopper available at Episode
While setting up your bar, keep in mind...
How much and how often you entertain.
What your preferred choice of drink is – wine, whisky, scotch or vodka. Depending on that, you need, plan how to stock your bar.
The right glasses for wine, whisky and Scotch.
You will need essential barware such as corkscrews, good mixers, wine chillers, wine holders, wine openers etc.
The bar itself needs to be taken care of, so decide on the type of bar you want keeping in mind how much time you can invest in its maintenance.
Space and electric connections for a small refrigerator would be ideal.