Basement Bar Design #1: Where, What, and Why.

Basement Bar Design #1: Where, What, and Why.

Let’s start with defining a Basement Bar. Each element of the definition will also lead into a discussion of why you might want to go to the time and expense of constructing/assembling one.
First we look at location. Basement Bars are in locations that are physically isolated from the main living area, especially the Kitchen, of the home. Often, they are a central feature in a basement you are finishing or have finished, but they can just as easily be put together in a loft or bonus room upstairs. In Florida, Texas, or other lands of ranch-style homes, I have seen them work really well in pool cabanas or other out-buildings.
The isolation has practical and psychological implications. Psychologically, it is a separate place from the home, giving it a specialness that is kind of fun. For many of us, the Basement Bar is a our Manutary, or Man Cave. It is our space, where we both hold court, and control the environment.
UPDATE: Welcome Asylum for all Mankind Readers! Please take a look around at the rest of our series on Basement Bar design (see bottom of the post), check out the rest of the site for some fine cocktail information. A true Manutary needs great cocktails, not just good beer.

Man Caves, Then and Now

Your Father’s Man Cave
Thoroughly Modern Mantuary
The Thoroughly Modern Mantuary

So a basement bar has to be a man’s sanctuary. Ladies can’t have them?

I suppose a few women may have a special purpose bar of their own. (I say women, rather than Ladies, because, as Martina Navratilova says, Woman is a fact. Lady is a matter of opinion. The latter could also be said for Broad.) But men giving alcohol to women is part of a millennia-long dynamic that perpetuates the species in the long term. While no one in our modern world should begrudge a woman choosing to change the dynamic, it is similarly bootless and distasteful to pretend that the dynamic is likely to change in any fundamental fashion in the general population.
Men also tend to go for the separate area for their mixology more than women because of the second psychological element that dictates that isolation: Socializing over booze often is enhanced by separation, either from (especially) children, or the opposite sex. This is true for everything from casual Happy Hour conversation to full blown wingdings.

Gentlemen, let us repair to the drawing room for cigars and sherry.

There are lots of other reasons for separation as well. Available space is usually a big excuse for separation, if you don’t want to admit to the psychological reasons above. Rec rooms and basements are where the space is.
The second set of characteristics for the Basement Bar flow from this isolation. A good Basement Bar needs space and some facility to entertain friends who join you down (up, out) there. You need at least some room to move around. Most will have some second focal point beyond the bar. This is something like a home theater setup, a poker table, a Wii system, a brass pole….
Depending on your personal preference either the bar or the second focus may be the primary draw for you and your friends. The point is that it is more than just someplace to store your drinking stuff.
The third and last characteristic of the Basement Bar is that it is a place to store your drinking stuff. It must have adequate storage for your mixological needs. This brings me to the first Pegu Blog Principal of Basement Bars.

Pegu Blog Principal of Basement Bars #1
When designing your basement bar, consider your total range of cocktail and other booze competency. Calculate the space needed to store the liquor and tools you will want to keep around to service that range of skills. Then ensure that your design allows for at least a 50% more storage than you calculate you need. Your mixological knowledge and range will expand rapidly with a quality laboratory in which to work.

There you go. Follow Principal #1, and you will find that you have yourself an excellent…. liquor cabinet. A lot more goes into it to make it work, and make it last. All the rest is negotiable, depending on taste, habits, and pocketbook, however. Stick with me and we’ll go through it all.

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:
[catlist id=47 orderby=title order=ASC numberposts=-1]


  1. tipsytexan

    11 June

    Living in Texas I lack a basement; living paycheck to paycheck, I lack a Cabana or outbuilding. I still long, though, for a mantuary. Is a garage conversion too tacky? I think that it could work as long I relocate the litter box.
    Looking at it another way, is a mantuary even necessary if both residents of the house are cocktail-swilling men? Perhaps this could be one of the unadvertised benefits of same sex relationships…

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. Doug

    12 June

    Sounds to me like you’ve got two issues: space and need. First, as to need: Assuming I’m writing to Tex, how much of a Broad is Tipsy? Is he going to mix as often as you? Does he want his own space, as much as you? Or is he Chicky enough to want to be with you all the time? (Not, as Seinfeld would say, that there is anything wrong with that!) Believe it or not, I actually considered this issue when I was writing this post to begin with. I didn’t go into it to save space, and also because for the few committed gay couples I’ve known, the dynamic was more similar to hetero couples than most people, straight or gay, are willing to admit.
    Are you still planning on keeping a car in the garage? The odor of motor oil makes everything taste like it was made with Absolut, and brake dust throws off the color of my Pegus. If you park your car outside anyway, then a garage is just a big space. Do with it what you will!
    In my notebook on this series, I have a page of notes about the “closet bar”. I had an Uncle who had an excellent one, as he was in California and had no basement, and his out buildings were devoted to two horses, which also throw off the taste of a good Manhattan. You’ve given me some good thoughts, I’ll have to get to the closet bar post sooner, rather than later!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  3. tipsytexan

    17 June

    Tipsy is, thankfully, no kind of broad. I have never understood why some men prefer the company of he-broads to that of actual men or women.
    We have the same philosophy about mixing (i.e., the more the better) so one space is adequate. I am excited by how all of the liquor bottles look consolidated onto one bar.
    Regarding the one-car garage, there are no cars parked in it. It was built in 1962 and I have no idea what vehicle of that vintage could actually fit in it; perhaps they were anticipating ‘peak oil’, or a garage-man cave conversion craze that never came. I think that this would be suitable space for a graduate level bar, but right now we need something we could outfit more quickly and affordably
    Taking all of this into consideration, I have realized that perhaps what we need is not a separate mantuary, but rather to make the living room more mantuary-like. We can start by removing all items unbecoming a mantuary (mail, clothes drying rack). We can build a bar along the stone Brady Bunch wall in place of the shelves that are overcrowded with liquor. It would dominate the room, but mixing drinks is our predominant interest so I think this could work. It would also allow us to feature the espresso machine in a place not too far from the dining table (the machine, a commercial model, is too big for the kitchen and is therefore set up in the garage). I think the espresso machine will fit in well at the bar, since they have similar requirements of space, refrigeration, and manly gadget-obsession in general.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  4. Doug

    17 June

    I think you are probably leaning in the right direction. When I get to bar layout (to come after I get back from DisneyWorld) I’ll talk about layouts. Sounds like you could go with what I think of as a serve your guests and/or each other setup. Put one counter against the wall for storage and things like the Giant Coffee-Thingy Of Doom, then put another counter and/or bar-top in front to serve over. sounds expensive, but you can do the guts with metal shelving units, then clad them in either wall paneling or even nice fabric, depending on whether miter boxes or sewing machines are more in your wheelhouse.
    This kind of setup does essentially dominate a room, though. Since you both are into it, it would probably not only work but be appropriate!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  5. sam

    23 August

    The best man-cave site I have come across has to be The Mantuary. Do check it out sometime.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

@DAWInship on Instagram
Please Add Widget from here