I previously mentioned some members of my family visited my apartment for the first time ever this week. They all admired the elaborate detailing on our mantle, and they all pondered the history of the building. They also all commented on the “bar” in my living room. Personally, I think calling it a bar is a little too generous. It’s just a small shelf, with a fair number of half-finished bottles and a handful of bar accessories. I was able to explain away the half-empty bottles due to a recent party we’d had in which guests left them there, but I had no excuse for my love of bar accessories. And I didn’t want to have one. Gosh darn it, I just love accessories.
In preparation for the wine and cheese movie theater I want to open one day (a girl can dream, right?), I’ve done a fair amount of shopping around for useful things for a bar, and I’ve found a lot of things that are wonderfully compact for small spaces. I wanted to share my list of five of my favorites. I call them “must haves” because, well, I think they’re essential, but of course your tastes may vary as much as your drinking habits.
In no particular order, 5 must-haves for an apartment/small bar:
- The WineHive. I was so thrilled to find this on Kickstarter and to get an introductory price, and I highly recommend it. It’s great because you can buy a small hive, and as you acquire more space in a bigger apartment or house, you can buy additional pieces to build your hive. I love my little hive, it’s made well with quality materials and it looks really nice on my “bar”.
- A set of govino stemless wine glasses. These wine glasses look like glass, but they’re actually a special food-safe polymer that allows the wine to breathe similarly to crystal. Because they’re stemless and unbreakable, they’re easy to stack, maximizing precious surface area. Plus, you can feel comfortable giving them out to even your clumsiest friends, knowing that if they’re going to spill their wine, at least they’re not going to break the glass too. Bonus? Completely recyclable.
- Whiskey stones. These aren’t specific to tiny spaces, I just think they’re excellent. They allow you to keep your whiskey cool without diluting it (if you’re into that sort of thing). I’ve heard you should add just a dash of water to your whiskey regardless to allow the flavor to develop a bit, but if you don’t want to water it down with ice cubes, these are perfect. And they’re small, so they won’t take up a lot of real estate on your shelf.
- An all-in-one wine stopper/filter/aerator. There are so many things you can buy to go along with your wine. Some are necessary, some are not. This little guy fills several roles, varying in their necessity. It’s a stopper (absolutely necessary unless you plan on one-and-done-ing every bottle of wine you drink), it’s a filter (necessary if you have a tendency of getting cork in your bottle), and aerates wine as it’s being poured (the jury is still out on if this actually works). Why buy a stopper, a filter and an aerator if you can have all three in one? Disclaimer: I have stoppers and aerators, yeah, I know, they’re small anyway, but we’re talking about maximizing space here!
- A bartender’s guide. These can usually be found on the clearance shelf at Barnes & Noble (I picked one up for $3 a few years ago), and they’re pretty useful. If you don’t anticipate your friends coming over and asking for fancy cocktails, I totally understand. However, I’ve been saved many times when I’ve said “sure, I’ll make a cocktail for the party” and realize that I need something quick with ingredients I already have on hand. These guides usually have some great information about how to prepare before you have guests, or the best way to serve a neat drink, etc. And they’re pretty tiny. My beau has an excellent vintage guide for hosting parties, you can probably find something similar at a thrift store or used book seller.
Bonus: Go buy yourself a cool bottle opener. Sure, you should have a corkscrew on hand anyway, but fun bottle openers are small and a great conversation starter. Mine is a mermaid.
I really love entertaining, and I really love sitting down with a glass of red wine with a weeknight dinner, so perhaps my list of essentials is longer than most. However, I think the five things above are pretty basic, and they don’t take up so much space you find your family saying “my, what a big bar you have!”
So, what did I miss? Any other essentials for a small bar that I should know about?
Note: I’ve received no compensation to endorse these products, opinions are 100% my own.