Home bar none

When it’s time to welcome guests back to your rustic retreat, up the ante with a home bar that screams ‘Lounge Lizard.’

by Colin and Justin

Last winter, our Drag Lake neighbour, Kevin, created an outdoor ice bar, complete with lounge music, mood lighting, sawn tree-trunk stools and a bar top carefully fashioned from ice and snow. The creativity and quirky nature of the project made gathering for a safely protocolled libation a real event: the perfect cherry, indeed, atop a fun social highlight for all who shared the reverie.

Kevin’s hostelry got us thinking that if our own get-togethers were imbued with a similar sense of theatre, not only would our guests feel spoiled, but we, as hosts, would get a huge kick. If you’re having company at the cottage, it’s time to up the ante with a spot of home bar atmosphere. But hold it: before reaching for the Coors neon to titillate your man cave, aim higher. Set your sights on something with a little more sophistication. Yes indeed: it’s time to enjoy memorable nights out by organizing fun nights in.

Wheels Up

If you don’t have a dedicated bar area, a cart is an utter must have. Portable and stylish, a wheeled drinks station allows the party to travel from room to room, as required. Even while stationary, a loaded bar cart (boozers – us?) is a thing of beauty. The Feliz natural rattan unit from CB2.com ($499) resembles a real vintage treasure, thanks to its subtle, low sheen paint finish and antique style brass casters. Perfect for the cottage? And then some.

Cherry on Top

Just like a tempting food recipe, your choice of ingredients will bolster the overall bar experience. So, rather than simply hitting the supermarket, search for quality, exotic items to enhance the drinks offering, and, in doing so, rock out the look and appeal of your mobile marvel. Our guests enjoy Amarena Fabbri Luxury Italian Cocktail Cherries from CocktailEmporium.com ($32.95). Juicy and sweet – and packed in a stunning ceramic jar – they’re a mixologist’s dream accessory.

Bitter and Happy

If you, like we, enjoy shopping Ontario, then bolster your bar top with bitters from Dillons.ca ($15 for 100ml). The perfect addition to spice up your cocktail offering, a few dashes of their ginger, rhubarb, chocolate or orange bitters are guaranteed to add extra bite to your gourmet menu.

Wines in the Cellar

If you’re a bit of a grapes buff and like to store and collect, perhaps your unfinished basement could serve as the perfect place in which to install a wine cellar. But wait: there are many details to consider – your room will require to retain a constant temperature between 7C to 18C, with the humidity level arranged between 50 and 70 per cent. In an ideal world, the space should be dark and vibration free, so stacking your bottles next to a laundry room is not the way to go. If you enjoy luxury and escapism, consider adding a tasting table and chairs (with attendant soft lighting) so that you and the gang can enjoy great tasting evenings (any excuse for a snifter, huh?) while sharing in the love and knowledge of wine. Check out RosehillWineCellars.com for specialist advice.

Raise Your Glass

In the modern hostelry, presentation is everything, so pair the right vessel with the right drink to add a whole new level of detail. The Craft Brewed Can glass from MuskokaBrewery.com ($9.25) is a great conversation piece. The quirky love child of a can and pint pot, it’s the perfect way to serve the brewery’s tasty issue. For a more sophisticated vessel (ideal for cocktails) try a Nick & Nora glass. The Gold Dream Decor Coupe from CocktailEmporium.com is perfect ($12). Named after Nick and Nora Charles, a fictional couple created by Dashiell Hammett in his novel The Thin Man, this glass is prohibition proof and utterly glamorous.

Sitting Pretty

The difference between a dive bar and a sleek lounge is decor (and, of course, atmosphere) so add items that make a unique statement to suffuse your gatherings with memory making fun. Position antique style theatre seats, for example, around a console table to create a unique bar seating area. Visit Lockside Trading Company (Lockside.com) for inspiration (as pictured, $599).

Casual and Rustic

Create a fully installed home gantry aesthetic with the Doe Valley Rustic bar from StoneycreekFurniture.com ($1,928). The unit’s “distressed” mahogany plank design is at once casual and rustic, a combo that makes it ideal for use at the cottage. Position it in front of a taller unit – or in front of bottle loaded wall shelves – for a custom vibe without the expense. Yup, we’ll drink to that!

After 18 months of solitary confinement, it’s fair to suggest we’re all desperate to regroup with friends and family. And amen to that, say we. In whichever way you dream of gathering this season, plan your events safely and responsibly. So that, as time endures – and our world eventually corrects – we can be assured of a healthy future and years of good times ahead. Cheers!

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