Tag - Basement Bar Design

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Basement Bar Design #9: Tiki Bars
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Basement Bar Design News: The Wall Street Journal Notices That Home Bars Are “In”
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Rejected Column Ideas
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Wow, They Even Have Black Friday Sales In the Cocktail World….
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Basement Bar Design Accessories #9: Global Domination
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Basement Bar Design Accessories #8: The Arkeg

Basement Bar Design #9: Tiki Bars

Tiki Bar TV cast and set
Some accessories are harder to come by than others….

The essential nature of Tiki is that it is so much more than just the drinks. Tiki is an experience. It can take you away from who and where you are, and give you permission to be someone else. With it’s pagan overtones and pre-civilized vibe, Tiki is inevitably naughty. Going to Tiki world carries with it an implicit permission to misbehave. Whether you do or not is actually irrelevant, the feeling that you could can be liberating. I understand this psychological effect pretty well. My murder mystery party business, though not Tiki-related, provides that same, “permission to be bad” for guests. Stepping into another identity will set you free.

In this and prior Tiki Months, I’ve written about small and easy ways to slip into the Tiki world. The shirts. The Music. The Mugs. But right now, let’s talk about the big Magilla: How to outfit your own Tiki (Basement) Bar. Nothing will more fully immerse you in the Tiki world than actually being able to physically enter it. So mix yourself a Mai Tai and let’s discuss the many ways you can construct your own magical wardrobe.

To start with, a Tiki Bar need not be a permanent beast. After all, while the Tiki Gods may shake the Earth at the thought, not everyone is prepared to establish a permanent rum-soaked shrine to Polynesian idols, rattan, and kitsch in their homes.


“We are unamused.”

Sorry, guys. But many people just want to have a Tiki Bar for that special event. Others want to have an outdoor focal point for a Summer of Tiki. (Or a refuge in February from a Winter of Snow)
If all you want is a Tiki bar for a quick party, it can be cheap and easy. (If you aren’t interested in the low-end portion of this discussion, skip to here) Take a normal table, set it up in the Living Room, and decorate it with a kit like this one from Century Novelty:

Yes, it is cheap and tacky. So what? This is entry level, one-off, throw it away when you are done stuff here. Serve enough high-quality Tiki drinks, and it’ll be remembered the next day as the second coming of Trader Vic’s. (Come to think, serve enough crappy Tiki drinks and the same applies.) For temporary Tiki set-ups, you can get surprisingly good vibes with the simplest stuff. Remember, the atmosphere you are trying to create is ultimately in your guests heads.

If you are doing a backyard party, the somewhat more expensive retrofit for your patio umbrella shown above will help your guests feel like there is a view of Diamond Head from your patio.

You can improve on this in many ways, of course. Wrap the edges of your tables with raffia table skirting. It is the interior decorating equivalent of the paper parasol in a drink. Buy a box of plastic leis and hang them on your guests as they arrive, making your guests part of the decor. The crinkly plastic ones are dirt cheap, but spring a few extra bucks for the ones that have actual plastic flowers and you’ll look like a hero. Enough supplies like this, and you can craft your room or patio into something pretty fun. Load up your iPod with a selection of Exotica music and scatter some Tiki torches (not too close to the decor!), and your guests will have what they need to craft their internal atmospherics.
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Basement Bar Design News: The Wall Street Journal Notices That Home Bars Are “In”


So the home bar is back in fashion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Who knew?
Well, as someone who’s had a basement bar for a decade, and been writing about them for years now, me for one.
To be fair, the segment of the movement on which Helen Kirwan-Taylor (hyphenated last name, a bien sur) reports is likely somewhat more of a new phenomenon: The Rich have discovered the home bar. While the Why of this discovery is more important than the What, the What is the main focus of the WSJ article. I want to focus on the whys, but I’ll first point out a few interesting elements of Basement Bars for the rich that make the article worth reading in its entirety.

The general cocktail revolution has produced public bars that are absolute showpieces of both social graces and design (e.g. Door 74 in Amsterdam, as portrayed here by the inimitable Jay Hepburn). These bars, rather than being seedy watering holes for the hoi poloi, are a good bit nicer than the homes of the rich and famous… and we can’t have that! Some of the best designers of these new showpiece watering holes are building good secondary businesses creating home bars for clients who fell in love with their public creations. Even the self-contained bar in a piece of furniture has moved into the upper price zone, with pieces featured in the article from Armani Casa and Ralph Lauren, among others.

Interestingly, while the gilt bars of the Rich and Famous may cost a lot more than the Basement Bar of Joe Sixpack, or the corner mixing station of Moe Martini, what they are at heart is the same. Cocktail godfather Ernest Hemingway, the master of lyricism though brevity, famously misreported (to greater truth) his interchange with cocktail goduncle F. Scott Fitgerald:

“The rich are different than you and me,” said Fitzgerald.
“Yes, they have more money,” replied Hemingway.

Fitzgerald’s phrase here was taken from The Rich Boy, and Fitzgerald intends what it says on its face, as regards the unique softness of Old Money. Hemingway, however, turns the phrase on its head, reminding us that Rich or Poor, the human condition remains the same. In this case, it means we all need a quiet place to have a drink and be left alone with each other.

Donald Trump, his hair, and Larry King
Two rich people, interacting just like humans.
—Jane Goodall file photo

Ms. Kirwan-Taylor notes three different explanations as to why the Basement Bar is increasingly popular. Each is a good one.
The first mentioned is the demonization, legal and societal, of smoking. Increasingly, if you want to have a smoke in a bar, the bar has to be in your home. (“They” will cut off this freedom as well, when they can manage it, but for now a good cigar is a powerful incentive to build a lounge at home.) I don’t smoke anything myself, beyond a cigar or so a year, and no one including me smokes in my bar. But if you do smoke, this is really important.

The second reason offered, given voice in the article by french designer India Hudson, is simply: “no SMS”. The implication is that bars are our last great bastion of face to face contact, where the BlackBerry does not rule our lives.

Kim Kardashina in a bikini with her Crackberry, er, Blackberry
The heartache of Crackberry Addiction.
if only there was a bar where she would feel welcome….
[Source]

I think I buy this one the least, at least on its face. Like you, I’ve been in many a bar where I’ve glimpsed patrons (sometimes in the mirror, I confess) clasping a glass in one hand and an iPhone in the other. But the electronic leash is a cruel master, and escaping its grasp can be a powerful motivation to visit or build your own bar. And if sitting in a dark, comfortable seat and staring into the depths of a glass of amber liquid while thinking deep thoughts gives you permission to not answer the latest Tweet, there is great value in that. This is psychological rather than practical, but no less real.
The second part of this idea is conversation, rather than isolation. A Basement Bar is a salubrious place to practice the art of conversation in more than 140 characters, whether before, after, or in place of dinner. It’s a better place than the kitchen, which is a place that always holds the air of work needing to be done. (For a good laugh, enjoy paragraph 12 of the article, in which Ms. Kirwan-Taylor tries to get all Victorian up in your face, making distinctions between the proper times to use a drawing room versus a bar….)

The last reason, with which I find myself quite sympathetic, is simply this:

Another factor is age, (London designer, Tara) Bernerd notes. “At a certain point, hanging out at China Whites (or any nightclub) is no longer so appealing” she says.


Not cut out for an evening at Liquid.

Age covers a multitude of factors. I for one am too old for a lot of bars, and too old to put up with a lot of others often, or for long. Many of us, along with our friends, have children as well. An evening of conviviality in the basement lounge while the kids rampage overhead can beat a night on the town all hollow. Especially since you can find out about the demise of the fish tank via screams from upstairs instead of a resignation text from the sitter. Plus, demise of said fish tank will not necessarily end the evening when spent in the home bar.

I snark on this because I love. I’m very glad to see the home bar idea spreading wherever it can. Besides the benefits I discussed here, I think home bars contribute to the expansion of craft cocktails and people’s appreciation of same. And a final hat tip to KegWorks, whose blog tipped me to the Wall Street Journal’s article to begin with. As purveyors of home bar equipment, fixtures, and paraphernalia, they are more than ready to encourage anyone with budget to hop on in.

If you want to follow this specific series of posts on the Pegu Blog, you can subscribe to our Basement Bar feed here. Or you can just subscribe to the entire blog, with all its brilliant content, here!
Here’s a list of the other articles in this series that have been posted so far:

Rejected Column Ideas

inbox
I stumbled across a blog post recently that made me go back and look at my own draft folder. E.E. Southerby of Points in Case is a wrong-headed individual who reminds me of my own younger self, only with a better writing ethic. He has a regular feature he calls “Rejected Column Ideas“, in which he does a collection of short blurbs about posts he never finished. Gizmodo does something similar. I took a look at the 34 posts in varying degrees of decomposition in my draft folder, and decided I ought to give the idea a shot.
You are welcome.

First up, I have two booze stories from far-off, fading Avalon.
Number one is about beer. I don’t blog about beer, so I set this one aside. But I just gotta say that if you are going to brew 64 proof beer, “Tactical Nuclear Penguin” is a pretty good name. (H/T: Ace)
Number two is about Scotch. The English have introduced a whisky of their own. Apparently the only reason Scotland has not declared war (yet) is that they spell whisky correctly. Me, I just am hoping for a sample bottle of $75, three-year-old scotch to come from the Liquor Fairy….

A while back, I had a moderately well-read post on a recent IP dustup about Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and the Dark ‘n Stormy (which can only legally be called thus if you use Gosling’s). Among the several others who also wrote on it was Jacob Grier, who plots to storm the Trademark Bastille with a yet to be invented, “Dark ‘n Sue Me“. I love Jacob, but I suspected he had his head lingering dangerously near the wrong parts of the anatomy on this one. While I usually do not shy away from a good Rule 4 dust-up, I did here because… well, Jacob and his crew sound much better educated on the subject than I do. And it is less than fun to get into a public debate with people who appear more educated than I.
Even when I am, of course, right.

Descending from the rarefied air of intellectual property rights to the Basement Bar, I bring you these things for the PeTA member who hungers for an old-school, drawing room-type mancave:
deer_lb01
A company named Cardboard Safari has a whole raft of these things, up to and including a full sized, whole body rhino. (H/T: Streetlevel, via Asylum)

I was thinking about one of these for my Basement Bar a while back, when I was noticing a slight shrinkage in the waistbands of many of my trousers (a condition that has yet to abate). Behold the Stationary Bike Blender Kit!
Bike-Blender
But then I got one of these, and I decided to look elsewhere for exercise. Especially since I’d only use it enough during Tiki Month. (H/T: OhGizmo)

Speaking of Tiki Month, here’s my favortie item I did not get to: How to make your own, Tiki-style paper umbrellas! ( H/T: Camper)

The next item really ought to be it’s own post, but I’m sticking it here because, well, I’m on a roll and it has been in the queue for almost a year.
Understanding Cocktails pointed out that one of the exploding trends in 2008 was cocktails, so much so that Google’s Zeitgeist report for 2008 gave us a list of top ten drinks searched for as one of its featured lists.
I used Google Trends to check a few other search histories and found that our area of interest is as fresh and new in the public consciousness as we think. But I am dismayed to see that it is not growing as much as I’d like. I searched for Cocktail Bars, Mojito, Manhattan, and Martini. Only Mojito goes back before 2005 as even a blip on the radar. The others all appear out of the blue around 2005-2006, but don’t grow much from there. We cocktail bloggers are not doing our jobs, folks!

And last, what would a post like this be without a video? Here is the finest (IMHO) in the Cooking with Andy series from YouTube. Beware FoodBuzz types! This is the way a lot of people out there view food bloggers!

Wow, They Even Have Black Friday Sales In the Cocktail World….

You probably get as many emails as I do about Black Friday sales. But this year brings the first I’ve seen for a bar products company.
BarSupplies.com is running a series of specials for your home bar, or for the real bartender in your home. They have lots of gift packs, including ones for guys who are into drinks, girls who are into drinks, and for either sex who is into wine.
They also are touting a lot of specialized bar equipment, some of which I had not seen before. Much of it is “for the trade”, but there is a lot that could interest the obsessed amateur like myself as well.
And as a centerpiece for all their specials, BarSupplies has put together this YouTube video, with your host “Lindsay” (whose name is in quotes for some reason), in which she demonstrates the products on special and allows you to benefit from her vast… experience.

I actually did learn of some things I’d like. For those of you on the building a basement bar odyssey, the video and the site are worth a look. They have good entries in the basic glassware category, as well as fun stuff to augment your decorating choices.
In conclusion, while Barsupplies may not be a blog, I will say that they understand Rule 5 quite well.

Basement Bar Design Accessories #9: Global Domination

Here’s an idea that isn’t new. I’ve heard of these things in movies for a long time, but I had not seen them in the real world until now. I am referring to small liquor cabinets that are shaped like free standing antique globes.

Bar-Globe
{Click on pic for larger image}

To be honest, these accessories are not so much for your Basement Bar as they are a way to extend your cocktail domain out of your bar, or simply have a small such domain if your house (or spouse) won’t allow for a full bar. There is room inside most of these globes for a number of glasses in a ring around the outside ring, and a small selection of bottles in a center compartment. If I had one of these, I’d prep it for company with cut crystal tumblers, a bottle of Dalwhinnie, an appropriate humidor, and a small vase to hold ice.
Put one of these globes in your living room or den, or near the back door, wander by it after dinner, tilt open the top and you’ll be quite the lord of the manor, Hugh Laurie as Bertram Wooster impression, optional.
I found a source for these globes that carries a large variety of models, 1-World Globes. They have them in a variety of sizes and styles, at prices between $300 and $1500. The one pictured above is about $500. I contacted these guys and asked a few questions to clarify how the globes work. There are definite pluses and minuses to these little barlets.
First off, they do not spin or rotate. You probably would not want them to anyway, but FYI…. Second, they are only available in antique cartography (17th Century). 1-World still shows a modern cartography globe on their site, but the manufacturer says, there ain’t no more, ain’t gonna be no more. Third, the styling is very classic as well on all models. For my house, I’d need a modern-looking steel or black enamel look in one of these.
On the plus side, however, they seem quite well constructed. I love globes in general, as they convey a sense of worldliness and education through your home’s decor. (Readers of this blog of course need no reinforcement of their obviously vast cosmopolitan intelligence, but what the hey.) Finally, they are just practical enough to make you feel justified in a little extravagance like this.
While I stated earlier that this is not primarily an item for a Basement Bar, there are some applications there as well, especially in facilities with specific themes. A British Isles themed pub might find a design like this to be right at home. I might also find it cool if you have a poker table, especially since you could put it at hand by your favorite chair, and you wouldn’t have to leave your chips at the mercy of your thieving friends while you refill your scotch or theirs. If you still want to keep all your booze in your central bar, this could still be a good storage place for such exotica as a larger humidor, or such mundanity as your twenty remotes.

If you want to follow this specific series of posts on the Pegu Blog, you can subscribe to our Basement Bar feed here. Or you can just subscribe to the entire blog, with all its brilliant content, here!
Here’s a list of the other articles in this series that have been posted so far:

Basement Bar Design Accessories #8: The Arkeg

I have said on numerous occasions that you need a featured time-waster in your Basement Bar. You know, something to discuss while you and your friends enjoy your cocktails. Alternatively, it should also be a way to distract that annoying guy, Geoffrey or whatever his name is, who otherwise always monopolizes the conversation with tales of his band back in high school. One great device, especially for those of us of a certain age, is a stand-up, arcade-style video game. These usually have two problems associated with them: They take up a lot of space, and they take up a lot of your pocketbook.

I have also already written specifically about kegerators, for those of you with friends uncouth enough to want to drink beer, instead of fine cocktails. Possibly you yourself are so uncouth….

Most beer dispensing options also have two problems: They take up a lot of space, and they take up a lot of your pocketbook.

But what if you could provide both of the functions in one, apparently well-engineered, very cool-looking, customizable product? Behold, the Arkeg!
arkeg
Via Uncrate, we discover the programmable classic game arcade machine with built in beer kegerator! Awesome, no?

The Arkeg uses the home brew-friendly Cornelius keg, with built in tap and digitally controlled temperature. I’d strongly recommend the optional drip tray, though.

The cabinet and controls look to be every bit as good as the arcade games of our youth, and the 24 inch LCD screen (with beer-proof cover) should be a heck of a lot better! You can customize the backlit screen atop the machine as well to reflect your favorite team or just make it in keeping with your Basement Bar’s own specific design.

The machine comes pre-loaded with 69 games, including some of my favorites, like Battlezone, Centipede, Defender, Joust, Missle Command, Tempest, and the greatest arcade game of all time, Spy Hunter. Furthermore, depending on your resources or your willingness to circumvent certain copyright laws that you really should not, there are thousands more out there that this machine can run for you. Arkeg calls it an in-home iPod for your video games.

Like a regular arcade machine, or a regular kegerator, the Arkeg still takes up a lot of room, and still costs a lot of cash ($4,000 plus shipping). But it performs two functions in one! That makes it a perfectly reasonable purchase, right honey? Think of what we would “save”! It would be irresponsible for you not to get one of these.

If you want to follow this specific series of posts on the Pegu Blog, you can subscribe to our Basement Bar feed here. Or you can just subscribe to the entire blog, with all its brilliant content, here!
Here’s a list of the other articles in this series that have been posted so far:

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