Home Entertaining : The Bar Guide


No matter the size, a bar – be it a built-in or a bar cart – is such a jolly feature for entertaining at home. The size is dependent purely on the space you have available; the trick is in making it into a special feature, one that calls attention and sparks joy. Here are a few of the ways I take the home bar up a notch or two:

The Purpose-Built Bar

When you’ve got the room for it, a purpose-built bar is a worthwhile addition to the home, especially if you are serious about entertaining. The key elements are, of course, the bar counter & stools.  From there, it’s always great to include a wine fridge for ultimate high-tech usability. It’s important, too, to consider dimmable mood lighting, to suit the mood.

In terms of decorating, the home bar is ripe with opportunity. This is a place to boast a collection of beautiful glassware on glass shelves. These are a beautiful detailing, allowing light to shine through. I also always like to use mirrors as backdrops – they too add reflection and light and expand the space available.

Whether it takes up a room or a corner of a room, I think it’s fun to conceal it behind a panelled door. It adds an element of surprise to be able to open the panels into such a fun space, and it also means that they can be closed when it’s not cocktail hour, but tea time instead.

Finally, don’t forget to stimulate all the sense with candles and a great playlist.

The Drinks Trolley

When you’re low on space, a bar trolley can be just as exciting. The key is to truly make a feature of it and find one that suits your décor – whether it’s a piece of Mid Century Modern vintage or a more classically appointed piece.

My drinks trolley was custom-made by Soane with glass shelves and an antique silver finish for a touch of Old Hollywood glamour. I always leave it set up with a few crystal glasses, decanters, silver cocktail shakers, ice bucket, lemons, limes, mint, olives, nuts, and a couple of attractive bottles of spirits. The bottles are like little works of art, use them to bring the cart to life.

The other fun thing about a drinks trolley is that it can easily and quickly be ‘themed.’ It can in no time be transformed into a Martini Bar, with all the fixings or a Bloody Mary Bar should you be serving Brunch. Anything is possible and the effect is wonderfully festive.

And don’t forget, in the summer, the drinks trolley can easily travel outdoors for garden entertaining. My favourite summer cocktail is the Picante  – with a twist. See my recipe below!

Alison’s Summer Picante Mezcal Margarita:

2oz/ 60ml Mezcal
.75oz/ 20ml Honey
1oz/ 30ml Fresh Lime Juice
Red Chilli Pepper

Top end of the Red Chilli Pepper
Cilantro leaves with a bit of stem

Your favourite heavy based glass  – I recommend a rocks!

Cut the small piece of chilli and press it with a muddler in your favourite cocktail shaker.
Smash the cilantro in your hand and drop in. Add the rest of the ingredients, then shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Add chilli pepper top end and nestle it into the icey drink to garnish. And enjoy!


Alison x