How to Set Up a Home Bar

Hostess Beverly Smith shares tips for setting up your home bar — the foundation for perfectly memorable gatherings.

Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

Ask anyone who’s been invited to Beverly Smith’s home, and they’d agree she has a flair for entertaining, a skill she’s honed over the past 52 years. This hospitable hostess with the mostest says she starts with a simple theme around which she builds the decor and menu. But one thing remains constant — her enviable home bar. Whether it’s her famous budget-friendly pizza parties or her showstopping, dining-room-table-covered charcuterie parties, Beverly has spirits of all sorts on hand to put guests at ease. 

Set the Scene

• Pick an inspiration piece, like the Carmen Miranda bust, pictured right, and tailor your theme to it. 
• Scarves, wraps and towels make affordable decorative runners.
• Add height and dimension to your bar by using upturned buckets or bowls.
• Set up the bar on the porch or in the backyard to avoid bottlenecks inside.

Stock the Bar

No need to spend a fortune stocking up all at once. Beverly says start with two or three bottles of your favorites — the home bar is meant to be a reflection of its owners.

Glass muddler, $92, Chapel Farm Collection • Helyx three bowl snack set, $125, Chapel Farm Collection • Jigger and strainer (part of set), $135, Chapel Farm Collection • Gold leaf flakes, $18, • Withco mixer, $20, Mountain Brook Olive Company

Basic Liquors
White rum, rye whiskey, gin, tequila, Scotch, vodka

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Lemon, lime, orange, cranberry, grapefruit, pineapple, tomato

Mint, rosemary, basil, lemon, lime, cucumber, celery, olives, cocktail onions, cherries

Tea, coffee, cream, simple syrup, liqueurs, club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, cola, lemon-lime soda

Shaker, bar spoon, strainer, jigger, muddler

Easy Does It

“As the host, you don’t want to be doing anything but mingling during the party,” Beverly insists. “You need to be prepared.” That includes slicing fruits and veggies beforehand, chopping herbs — even setting out glasses and servingware to make sure the bar line flows smoothly. And to really enjoy the party, leave room in the budget to hire a professional. “Bartenders take care of everything,” Beverly says, “from refilling ice to shaking cocktails.” And they’ll have enough supplies on hand to quench guests’ thirst all night.

Flight of summer cocktails
Capucine Floral Tea Glasses, $50 (set of 6), Living Well

Beverly’s Go-to Cocktails for Summer Entertaining

Cucumber Gin Martini

3 cucumber slices
1 sprig of mint
2 ounces Hendrick’s gin 
1 tablespoon agave juice
1 teaspoon lime juice
ribbon of cucumber, for garnish

Muddle cucumber slices and mint. Add to a martini shaker with ice, gin, agave and lime juice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a ribbon of cucumber.

Gold Champagne

2 pinches of edible gold leaf flakes

Pour a small amount of Champagne into a Champagne flute. Add edible gold leaf flakes, then top off with more Champagne.

Grapefruit and Tequila Martini

3 ounces tequila 
4 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice 
splash of WithCo Bouquet flavored mixer
lime slice, for garnish
rosemary sprig, for garnish 

Add ice, tequila, juice and mixer to a shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with a sprig of rosemary spired through the lime slice.

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