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Is Mad Men inpsiring you to build a Home Bar?

Jenny Sparks Aug 24, 2010 12:50 PM

Home Bars seem to be making a come back, I am about to invest in a personal bar cart myself.
Mad Men has had a big influence on the drinking culture in the city.

How popular are Home Bars? who has built a Home Bar recently or had one for years?

What essential spirits must be included in a Home Bar setup?

  1. jgg13 Aug 24, 2010 02:52 PM

    Mad Men? No, not at all.

    Doesn't mean I haven't been inspired by other things over the last few years.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jgg13
      LulusMom Aug 25, 2010 10:03 AM

      A raging love of alcohol pretty much inspired me, years before Mad Men.

      1. re: LulusMom
        StriperGuy Nov 8, 2010 11:33 PM

        Well said. If ya need a TV show as an excuse for having a good cocktail you're a bit behind the curve.

    2. EvergreenDan Aug 24, 2010 05:46 PM

      I have a friend with a basement home bar. It is extremely inconvenient. My father-in-law had one, too. I don't think it got much use.

      I think storage for bottles, glassware, bar making supplies and ice/refrigerated supplies is very nice to have near where you would want to make cocktails for friends. Ideally this would be near or in the kitchen for most houses.

      7 Replies
      1. re: EvergreenDan
        davis_sq_pro Aug 25, 2010 07:14 AM

        Agreed, for me it's all about storage for all of the necessary ingredients and equipment--which I've taken care of with a few cabinets from IKEA. I don't feel the need to acquire an actual "bar" to stand behind--this would not be used without guests present, and with guests in the mix wouldn't make for very much fun.

        And by the way, Don Draper doesn't have an actual home bar either, so I'm not entirely sure what the point of this thread is. The capitalization of "Home Bar" has me wondering if this is some kind of marketing attempt...

        1. re: davis_sq_pro
          jgg13 Aug 25, 2010 09:54 AM

          oops, it would seem that perhaps I took this question not literally enough. We have an old buffet table that we use to store a lot of our stuff + keep nice looking bits & pieces (glassware, spirits, accouterments) on the top. Around the corner in the kitchen is the rest of the stuff, more day-to-day type of things.

          As for the marketing - it definitely is. That doesn't mean it can't spark a fun discussion :)

          1. re: davis_sq_pro
            BiscuitBoy Aug 25, 2010 11:19 AM

            As in playing games with meta data, and such? Don sure has a sweet setup in his office tho, especially if Ms Holloway drops in...I wonder if that would fly with MY boss?

            1. re: BiscuitBoy
              neil Sep 26, 2010 05:14 PM

              That's Dr. Holloway to you :-)

              1. re: neil
                BiscuitBoy Sep 28, 2010 08:09 AM

                Or PLAY doctor with her...maybe include Jenny Sparks too

          2. re: EvergreenDan
            EvergreenDan Aug 25, 2010 07:48 AM

            The problem is that the bottle storage location is never big enough. My overflow location has now overflowed to the overflow-overflow location. And this is with my re-bottling stuff in 250 and 375ml square bottles for maximum space efficient in the primary location.

            My wife is a saint. But don't get her started on the refrigerator (bitters, syrups, vermouths, sherries, other wines...)

            1. re: EvergreenDan
              davis_sq_pro Aug 25, 2010 08:04 AM

              For room-temperature storage I have a couple of these:


              They look pretty nice and there is a space in the back to mount a light if you want to make it glow (I've not done that yet).

              Never enough fridge space. I'm currently using two small wine refrigerators and am trying to figure out where to go next without bankrupting myself on electric bills...

          3. yarm Aug 25, 2010 09:49 AM

            I don't watch tv, so I'm going to say that my 175 bottle bar in the kitchen is unrelated to the television show. We started the bar 7 or 8 years ago.


            1. f
              funniduck Aug 25, 2010 10:26 AM

              No absolutely not. Home bars have never been out of style in my opinion. I would say the influence of mixolgy or the recession have bigger influences, but even those are minute.

              Can you explain why you think there is a correlation between the two?

              1. JMF Aug 25, 2010 11:44 AM

                The basics for a home bar are a bottle each of top quality gin, white rum, aged rum, bourbon, rye, single malt, blanco and reposado tequila/mezcal, cognac, and I suppose vodka (gack!) Then you need modifiers like dry and sweet vermouth, amaro, liqueurs like triple sec and a few others. Assorted bitters with Angostura, Angostura Orange, and Peychauds as the basics. Then you need decent bar tools, and freshly squeezed juices and simple syrup. I am sure I forgot a few things.

                I had a home bar with sink and ice maker back when I was in my eqrly to mid 20's. It didn't get that much use, but was fun for parties.

                Now I don't have an actual bar, just a large 4'x8' kitchen table. Before I moved I had 200+ bottles in my kitchen, and a pallet load four boxes high in the winery of my spirits with around 600-700 bottles. Now I have a few dozen bottles easily available, and the rest in storage until I move to my new place in a few months. I gave away a few hundred bottles when i moved, but I still have huindreds of bottles of liqueurs and modifiers that are boxed away.

                I have two small fridges for syrups and things that need to be kept cold. I also have a four case wine fridge with two separate temp zones for storage.

                My bar equipment is also on the large side. I have six full sets of bar tools, plus lots of extra pieces, and antique and vintage pieces as well. Plus hundreds of vintage cocktail glasses. I also have four 1950's electric Rival Ice-O-Matic ice crushers, and two hand crank ones that are much older. And silver jiggers from the early 1900's and late 1800's. My 1930's silver, collapsible champagne swizzle is a favorite piece. Woman would wear it on a chain around their necks. When ordering champagne they would take it off, open it out, and swizzle the champagne to get rid of the bubbles so they wouldn't burp.

                4 Replies
                1. re: JMF
                  Jenny Sparks Aug 25, 2010 02:53 PM

                  Thanks for the helpful tips on creating a Home Bar, or at least some kind of bar setup for Cocktails and entertaining.

                  1. re: JMF
                    sku Aug 30, 2010 01:08 PM

                    A Mad Men inspired home bar would probably be a bit different than what most of us have in our home bar today. Tequila, vodka and single malt, which were popularized in the '70s and after, are probably optional, but you better have Canadian Club, which is, after all, Don's favorite whiskey. You also need some straight Bourbon or rye (for the Old Fashioneds), gin, sweet and dry vermouth, Angostura bitters, rum (for tiki drinks) and some creme de menthe (in the water cooler?).

                    1. re: JMF
                      Pipenta Sep 22, 2010 01:53 PM

                      I would love to see what this champagne swizzle looks like. Could you please post a picture?

                      1. re: Pipenta
                        JMF Sep 23, 2010 12:15 PM


                    2. GraydonCarter Aug 28, 2010 08:22 PM

                      From what I've seen on the show, they don't have much of a bar at work. They have a bottle and a glass. And yes, I've been inspired by the show to wonder what it would be like to have a drink in the middle of the day. Answer: if you limit it to just an ounce or two, no harm no foul.

                      1. MC Slim JB Sep 1, 2010 06:48 PM

                        Watching Mad Men Season 4 has made me consider giving up drinking. It doesn't look so glamorous, the way Don's been doing it lately.


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                          jgg13 Sep 2, 2010 07:36 AM

                          I mean really, it's driven him to use a cell phone!

                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                            GraydonCarter Sep 2, 2010 06:00 PM

                            I enjoyed reading it, but I mistook the embedded url for a reference to your post rather than as a signature. This Chowhound site doesn't allow automatic signatures but you should be proud of your blogspot nonetheless. But I was a little confused that I couldn't find any reference to Don's drinking.

                            1. re: GraydonCarter
                              MC Slim JB Sep 23, 2010 07:54 PM

                              Thanks for the kind words! Sorry for any confusion.

                              Chowhound has long allowed any non-spammy poster with a blog to include a link as their signature. From Chowhound's Posting Etiquette http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605 : "There is a location for your blog information in your user profile. You may also announce your web site or blog via a 'sig' beneath your posting which includes the URL of the main page of your site."


                          2. drdelicious Sep 26, 2010 06:59 AM

                            We had to have one built in to hold all the stuff. It is still being built, but we put it in the parlor/study because it has plenty of seating for entertaining. More for evening cocktails and conversation and storage of course. Parties always go outside.

                            1. Kagemusha Sep 26, 2010 05:32 PM

                              I helped build a string of these during the mid-90s "Lounge" nano-trend when cocktail culture last got yanked from the crypt. They were borderline hokey back in the 50s and 60s and don't really fit into contemporary home life all that well. Besides, Casa Draper and other Kennedy/Johnson era homes often used kitchen counters and sideboards as the home bar; occasionally a den would sport a bar but just as often not. Bar carts look(and probably function)like a walker for the over-refreshed.

                              1. c
                                ChileDeLasSandia Oct 3, 2010 11:17 AM

                                I've only seen Mad Men once, and I did like their besotted ways.

                                Personally, the recent passing of my Candian whiskey loving grandfather (at 97) has inspired me to carry on the tradition.

                                I'd like to be an early 60s type guy in a velvet jacket, so I bought a cocktail shaker recently. The best investment I've made! I love it!

                                I got a copy of the 1949 "Esquire's Handbook for Hosts". It is an excellent guide to the world of cocktails, mid century. I love this book. Great illustrations and wit.

                                1. e
                                  ed1066 Oct 7, 2010 11:50 AM

                                  Mad Men is inspiring me to build a WORK bar!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ed1066
                                    GraydonCarter Oct 29, 2010 12:03 PM

                                    I know, right? How nice it would be to come back from that sales meeting and sit on the couch (one of the two couches) in my spacious office with a bourbon, just to get in the correct state of mind for the rest of the day.

                                  2. p
                                    PeterB Oct 28, 2010 04:49 PM

                                    Learned the craft of cocktails and home bars from my parents and never quit. I would say bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin, and rum are essential. OK, add tequila. Also Angostura bitters, sweet and dry vermouth, and some sort of orange booze (Harlequin is my current fave). A good cocktail shaker and some measuring devices are also important. Get some ice and some drink recipes and party down!

                                    1. joypirate Nov 7, 2010 09:22 PM

                                      the Crate and Barrel Taka Trunk serves my purposes. It came with bottle dividers and glassware fits in nicely. Since I don't tend to add ice I'm usually just pouring a neat glass of some sort of whiskey so no need for mixers or ice. At any given time I try to have a Scotch, a bourbon, an Irish whiskey, brandy of some sort, and usually something 'interesting'; like a white corn whiskey or something else sort of novel.

                                      1. p
                                        phantomdoc Nov 10, 2010 07:17 AM

                                        If I built a bar at work , I would lose my licence. Then would be PhantomNoMoreDoc

                                        1. g
                                          guilty Nov 13, 2010 08:56 PM

                                          I am so pleased at how many CHers answer something along the lines of, "Mad Men? Are you kidding?"

                                          Though the rest of you are nicer than I am . . .

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