Basement Bar Design Elsewhere in the Cocktailosphe...

Basement Bar Design Elsewhere in the Cocktailosphere #2

I am again reminded that I have not yet taken a stab at perhaps the most common theme for articles on bar design: The Question of Provisions.
I am also reminded that my own supply cabinets are overcrowded, disorganized, and have great gaps in appropriate supplies.
So, until such time as I get around to doing an inventory and getting my own thoughts in order…

Doubtless the Universe holds its collective breath until that glorious day!

Until I get my own thoughts in order, I’ll take this opportunity to point you to a recent post by my friend Marleigh at Sloshed, as I did earlier with Jacob Grier’s work on the subject.
Marleigh has actually tackled the subject of bar provisioning twice. Her latest post, entitled Home Bar 101, is a followup/update of a post from 2006, entitled The Setup. I found the new one particularly interesting because Marleigh compares and contrasts with her first post and you can examine the evolution of a cocktailian’s tastes over the course of three years.
She also discusses some basic Basement Bar Design thoughts in each post that I think are well said and germane to my long-term discussion of the subject. I’ll quote them here so I can properly attribute them. Otherwise I’ll internalize them and paraphrase them as my own later without realizing what I’m doing! I’m not sure whether plagiarism makes you look more like a bastard or an idiot, but I try to avoid it like the plague.
Here’s the first quote, from The Setup:

This doesn’t mean you should spend a lot of money on your bar, but think of it as an investment. If you are going to go so far as to develop an actual entity you are going to refer to as your bar, take some pride in it. This is an endeavor for you, by you, and you should work at making it worth your time.

Marleigh, in both articles, uses your bar to essentially mean your inventory. I think her words are equally, if not more valuable when your bar means the place where you store, prepare, serve, and drink that inventory. I think the words entity and endeavor are particularly good ones to keep in mind when designing and crafting your Basement Bar.
The second quote, from Home Bar 101:

As to stocking your bar, the bargain basement selection I am willing to entertain in liquor is whiskey and gin. … you can’t call it a bar unless you at least have whiskey and gin.
I still agree with most of this, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that you must have whiskey and gin to call it a bar. The best advice that I can give on starting up a home bar is this: buy quality products and start with what you like to drink.

First off, I don’t think your Basement Bar needs to have cocktails at all. It could be a wine bar, or feature only a beer tap, or two, or nine. It could even (I suppose) be a cigar bar. The value here is in Marleigh’s words that come in that last sentence. My inevitable internalization and (unattributed) regurgitation of them will show up later, looking a bit like this: Concentrate first on your own preferences, do them right, then fill in and expand the design as budget and time allow.
And as a final note, Marleigh, it ain’t a bar unless it has gin, Cointreau, Angostura Bitters, and a bowl full of limes!


  1. Marleigh

    3 June

    Well it certainly wouldn’t be a bar at my house, nor one fit for a Pegu. Thanks for reading, Doug!

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