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Festive bar

With the festive season just round the corner, and bars currently closed around the UK, why not create your own place to celebrate this year? Here, Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager from catering and bar equipment supplier, Alliance Online, shares his top tips for creating an at-home bar where you can get merry this festive season

2020 has been a whirlwind for all of us, with national and local lockdowns disrupting our usual daily routines and leaving us uncertain about what we will and won’t be allowed to do over the holiday season. In fact, Good Housekeeping’s 2020 Christmas survey revealed that 90% of their readers claimed their plans for the festive season have already been affected by COVID-19. 

But the Christmas fun doesn’t need to be halted this December. With Ikea’s recent Life at Home Report 2020 revealing that 78% of people around the globe agreed home was our sanctuary during the first pandemic restrictions, it’s clearer than ever that we are more than capable of making our own fun when staying in. So, if you’re feeling downtrodden about missing out on your Christmas trips to the pub, why not create your own at-home bar? That way the fun can carry on even past the festive season! Here, I’ll be sharing my tips for getting started.

Find the perfect space for your bar
Not many of us have the equipment or knowledge we’d need to build a bar from scratch, however there are plenty of other options. For example, if you’ve got a garden shed that’s just used to store things through winter, why not use this as the foundations of your bar? It’ll save you money along the way and will already have its own established position in your garden, so cuts down on planning time, too. 

As the winter hits, you might want a warmer place to retreat to for a tipple, so scouting out any empty rooms in your home which can be turned into a bar will be a good idea. For example, if you have a relatively large basement, this will be perfect. However you decide to do it, it’ll be the way you furnish and stock it up that will make it the ideal bar for you and your family this Christmas and beyond. If you don’t have a full room to spare for your bar, you could even set up a drinks trolley in the corner of the room where you’ll display all of your favourite tipples.

Coordinate the bar with your home décor
As the bar is likely going to be a permanent space for you and your family to relax in, you may want to consider coordinating the interiors with the rest of your home décor. For example, if your interior style is more industrial, then focussing on a darker colour scheme will create a nice sense of cohesion. 

On the other hand, if you prefer to stick to a minimalist theme, you should ensure the main colours you use around your home are brought into your bar, so they seamlessly flow into one another. For example, if all of your home walls are a clean, crisp, white, this will be your best bet for the bar as well. You can then add pops of colour with a display shelf of bottles, as well as a great selection of colourful coasters for an extra authentic touch. 

If you want to create a traditional style bar, you’ll want to have plenty of wooden accents. While you might not be able to have wooden beams on the ceilings, you could consider making wooden panelling for the walls. Or if you’re on a smaller budget, adding wooden tables and bar top will be a great idea, too. 

Invest in essential bar equipment
It’s unlikely you’ll need all of the equipment your local has, but a good way of deciding what you do need is to create a menu of your family’s favourite tipples so you can clearly see what bits are key for keeping your bar in business. If you all enjoy wine, you may want to invest a few small, medium and large red and white wine glasses. If you’re more interested by spirits like gin, getting the correct glassware will ensure your bar looks the part for when you’re finally allowed visitors round to see it. 

For cocktails, think about fun glasses, stirrers, shakers and syrups that you may need to create your favourite drinks. You might even want to think about getting an ice bucket, tongs and measuring tools, so you’re fully prepared to make your family favourites. 

To get it ready for the holiday season ahead, you might want to get a few Christmassy decorations and novelty glassware that you can pull out every December. You could even stock up on drink extras such as whipped cream for Baileys hot chocolates and candy canes for festive martinis. 

Plan a menu of seasonal drinks
To ensure everybody has a holly jolly Christmas in the family bar this year, you’ll want to think about planning a menu of seasonal drinks. These could take the form of pitcher cocktails you can all share, such as Christmas punch and mulled wine, or you could get creative and make your own. 

Typical Christmas scents and flavours include gingerbread, cinnamon and even peppermint, so try looking for festive flavourings you can add to classic drinks like mojitos and martinis. You could also look for some dried fruit and star anise to garnish your drinks with for that extra cosy Christmassy feel. 

If you have family members who don’t drink, or prefer not to drink alcohol, you’ll also want to think about drinks you can serve to them that still nod to Christmas. For example, a creamy gingerbread hot chocolate is bound to go down a treat, as will a nutmeg and orange coffee or some tasty mocktails.

Consider your serving style
If you’re wanting to spread cheer to your friends and family who you’ll miss out on seeing this year, sharing your photos over social media is bound to keep you connected. So, thinking about presentation will be key. Why not have a little fun with the drink creations you come up with? I recommend investing in a couple of fun beakers and mugs you can present your Christmas tipples in, as well as some festive saucers and coasters. 

For hot drinks like hot chocolates and coffees, you might want to think about buying, or baking, some mini gingerbread men that you can serve with them. This will also be a treat for those who don’t drink alcohol, so everybody can enjoy them. Don’t be afraid to get creative — it is your own bar after all, so there’s no rules!

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