With being confined to our homes for months on end, it is no wonder that we have gotten creative in the booze department. With varying levels of lockdown set for a while to come, people are looking at ways to fill the pub-size hole in their lives. Even now that they have been given the go-ahead to reopen, many people may be too cautious to return so happy hour at home may still be the most pleasant way to enjoy a cocktail or mocktail.
From tablescaping to delicate glassware, home bars are cooler than ever before. You don’t need much space either, there are so many small products that you can buy that can transform any room to create the vibe that you are after. Chic home bar ideas can be found throughout the internet and incorporate anything from a hidden mini-fridge to stylish storage to create a New York vibe hangout.
This is a functional piece of furniture that can be transformed into something far more elegant with the right styling ideas. Bring in pops of colour by displaying statement glassware and bottles of spirits and use different heights to give an added layer of interest. You can also style your bar cart to fit the season, becoming the focal point of a room. Add in natural elements such as flowers or a bowl of citrus to soften the look and create more drama. If you don’t have a bar, transfer your liquor to elegant decanters and glass bottles and put them on a serving tray and place on a console table as a makeshift home bar.
The fun thing about creating a home bar is that you can choose items because of their aesthetic beauty as well as their practicality. Go glitzy or paired down, there are lots of styles of corkscrews to choose from to get into your favourite bottle. A glass straw is much more elegant than plastic or metal and fans of BBC’s Normal People may remember the sophisticated old coupe glasses where Marianne serves champagne. Other glasses to invest in are some good quality highballs and tumblers. Another essential, especially on a warm summer’s evening, is an ice bucket. A glass of refreshing rose must be kept chilled at all times so find an ice bucket in your particular style and fill with at least 40 ice cubes to keep the bottle cool for up to 12 hours. When pouring the perfect gin and tonic, it is important to get the correct measure so invest in a spirit jigger with both single and double measures to get the perfect blend of alcohol and mixer.
Ice ice baby
Want to make the perfect cocktail, ensure you have enough ice available. Ice is used in every drink and you will need far more than you imagine. Two ice cubes in a glass of room-temperature liquid will melt within a minute so to achieve the perfect G&T, feel a glass to the brim of ice and pour over the liquid. The larger the ice cube the prettier it will look in a glass.
Aperol spritz is one of the most popular drinks but don’t limit the bottle of Aperol to just one drink. You can make a version of Pimm’s with a jug filled with ice, fresh cucumber, lemon, mint, peach, tonic water, bitters and Aperol. You can also add a dash of it to any sour, especially grapefruit juice. Another store cupboard staple is Angostura bitters, widely available for around £10 and will last for ages. You only ever need a small dash but it will transform the ordinary into something sublime. A gin sour with bitters is called a Fitzgerald and it will add a sparkle of intrigue into pretty much anything. Most cocktails have an element of sweetness so prepare some sugar syrup to use for various mixes. Pour one cup of water into a saucepan then add two cups of sugar to that. Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved and let it cool and then put into a jar or bottle and leave in the fridge and it will last for at least a month.
Need a little food to soak up the alcohol and stop the hunger pangs. The key is a few appetizers and although they can be low key, create something that will complement the drinks. An easy option is olives, breadsticks or nuts but you can add a little more substance with flatbreads and homemade black olive tapenade. A good cheese platter will go with most drinks and as a rule of thumb, mild cheeses such as brie go well with gins while stronger cheeses suit whiskey more. There’s plenty of recipes to try online from feta and radish toasts through to peas, mint and parmesan crostini, the key is to keep it simple to allow the drinks to take the spotlight.
Virtual happy hour
You may well be Zoomed out but adding in a twist with a happy hour may give you the lift that you were after to reconnect with friends or family living a distance from you. If it’s a special occasion, go that bit further and plan a theme and have each attendee come up with a cocktail inspired by their favourite film or TV show. Much like a dinner party, too many people will mean some will get left out. When conducting your gathering on screen, it’s really important to keep the numbers down to allow everyone to connect properly. Just like any party, the key to success is to get one person to be the host. You can all pitch in and decide if you want to play any games and the structure of the event, but it will run more smoothly if there is someone taking control from the off.