How to Setup the Ultimate Home Bar

glass containers in home bar setup

The home bar is one of the most exciting elements of a home. When your friends and family drop by, being able to head over to your station to whip something up is a great feeling. It’s also a great way to showcase your personal style and favourite drinks, while honing your cocktail crafting skills.

Even if you don’t drink, the home bar can still be an excellent use of space. The right setup will give your living space a chic, elegant appearance that’s nice to look at. A nice cart decorated with accessories and colourful bottles from your local liquor store may turn out to be quite the work of art, and one of the more visually appealing parts of your space.

Setting up your own home bar might sound a little daunting, but there’s not much you need to start. You can always build as you go once you have the basics. And with the help of this article, you’ll know exactly what to look for. Just don’t forget to incorporate your personal style!


The Cart

home bar full of spirits

The bar cart is the most essential piece of any home bar. It’s also one of your greatest opportunities for creativity and setting your personal style free. You can go pretty much any way you want here – from ornamental, chic, and gold to minimalistic and black.

There are a few things to consider when choosing a cart and getting it set up. First, you’ll want to be mindful of clutter. Bar carts are notorious for being overcluttered and messy after just a couple uses. You can avoid this by selecting a cart with more surface area or multiple levels. From there, it’s about being mindful of what you’re putting on there.

Another important consideration is the location of your new cart. Before you get started, you’ll want to measure your desired space before making a purchase, but you also need to be mindful of that desired location. Ideally, it will be in a darker area that doesn’t get much direct sunlight. At the same time, the darkest possible location isn’t good either – you’ll want to have your cart on display where people can actually see it and easily access it.


The Foundations

bar setup with spirits

No bar is complete without a foundational selection of spirits. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your favourites are stocked, but you should also consider the basics that will cover most cocktails. All you need are five foundational spirits, are you’re on your way to pretty complete home bar setup, and you can always add more specialty options down the road. But what exactly will you need?

  • Bourbon. The quintessential dark liquor, bourbon should be a mainstay in every bar. It’s extremely versatile and is used for some very popular cocktails like Manhattan’s, Sours, Old Fashioneds and simple highballs. Also, feel free to substitute in a bottle of whiskey or scotch.
  • Gin. Made with botanical ingredients, gin is known for its unique aroma and taste, making it a powerful player in any bar. Don’t get caught without a bottle, or you won’t be ready to make Gin Martinis, Gin & Tonics, Gimlets, or Negronis.
  • Vodka. Vodka is a super versatile spirit and can be used at any time of day from breakfast till the evening. You’ll need vodka for morning classics like Shafts and Caesars, plus evening favs like Vodka Martinis and Mules.
  • Rum. This exciting spirit is available in all sorts of colours and variations, but it might be best to stick with white rum, which is used for Mojitos and Daiquiris. But when the holiday season rolls around, you may want dark rum to go with your eggnog!
  • Tequila. This foundational spirit is a party favourite that’s usually either loved or hated. Without a bottle of tequila, you’ll be unable to craft Margaritas and Palomas, and don’t forget about tequila shots!

Ready to start building your foundation? Swing by one of Springs Group’s 14 liquor stores from North Vancouver to Delta to Mission. Our friendly staff will be happy to point you in the right direction.


Mixers, Bitters, & Extras

pouring a cocktail

Once you’ve got the foundational spirits in place, it’s time to start adding the other bits and pieces that will turn your home bar from amateur to semi-pro. Here are some of the key mixers, bitters, and other extras you should be stocking in your home bar:

  • Simple syrup. Simple syrup is the ultra-versatile additive used in so many cocktails to sweeten things up a bit. A nice simple syrup is often the difference between a cocktail tasting homemade vs. professional.
  • Vermouth. This aperitif is a European favourite drunk on the rocks, with soda water, or mixed into cocktails. You can buy red and white vermouth, but they’re rather inexpensive so just buy one of each. You’ll need these for Martinis, Manhattans, Negronis, and more.
  • Bitters. These botanical additives are important players in many cocktails, adding a powerful punch of flavour with just a few dashes. Bitters come in just about any flavour, so choose wisely – think versatility and flavour preference!
  • Garnish. If you really want to step up your cocktail game and wow your houseguests, keeping some garnish on hand is the way to do it.

Lemons and limes are standard, but also consider some botanical varieties like thyme, rosemary, or basil. You can also stock up salt and seasonings for the rim!


Glassware & Barware

empty cocktail glass

If you’re going to be making cocktails on the regular, you’re going to need some basic bar tools. You really just need the basics to get started, but don’t forget to let your style shine through in your barware. Antique and vintage shops can be a gold mine for barware with character.

You’ll definitely need a shaker, some type of bucket for ice, a long stirring spoon, and a corkscrew. But soon enough, you’ll likely also want to pickup a muddler, strainer, and jigger, plus a collection of napkins and stir sticks.

Finally, you will need some glassware to complete your home bar setup. Your old mugs and mismatched glassware are probably left in your cupboards for daily use – instead, consider investing in some quality glassware specifically for your bar. Some nice glassware can really help the overall aesthetic of your bar.


That’s all you’ll need for a solid home bar setup! We hope this article has been helpful. When you’re ready to stock, Springs Group can help. Stop by one of our 14 liquor stores and our staff will be glad to help you out.