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There are few things that are as satisfying as the ability to make your own drink in a beautiful home bar.

Whether you’re stirring your own ice-cold gin martini or shaking up a refreshing margarita, a home bar that is well-stocked with all the essentials is practically an American tradition, and designer Emily Henderson feels the same way. 

“It’s always nice to be able to make something a little extra special for a guest or guests. So, having the right tools is only going to make you look cool, make it easier, and it’s a great conversation starter,” she says.

Design by Mary Wyar

A Place For Everything

Entertaining is also made better by great design elements. From cabinet storage to open shelving, creating specified areas for each element allows your home bar a well-oiled machine when it comes to throwing a party.

Design by Celine Ord; Photography by Nick Sorrentino

Get Mixing

Additionally, investing in the right tools is necessary to create the best cocktails, but not everything needs to match. In fact, mixing materials, such as copper and stainless steel utensils, is one way to make your bar feel homey. “I think mixing materials makes things look more collected, which I’m a big fan of,” she says. 

Dining Room Home Bar Ideas

Design by LL Design Co.; Photography by Mike Radford

For the Beginner

Henderson also has some tips for the novice cocktail-maker, including giving yourself space to make the drink. “If you are a beginner, definitely use two hands and shake over your shoulder to avoid any potential tin-to-face collisions. Also, make sure to really put some muscle behind it so the ingredients really mix well and the drink gets as cold as possible. And, never put anything carbonated in your tin before shaking because it will explode,” she adds. 

Design by Christa Martin; Photography by Sara Tramp

Create Entertaining Hubs

According to Henderson, in addition to building a great bar, finding a great location for the bar can be key when it comes to entertaining guests. “A great host will create little food and drink zones so their guests don’t have to crowd around one area,” she says. Whether you utilize an existing nook in your living room, or designate an open area of the kitchen, the right location allows for your guests to move around, circulate, and get to know one another, without being cramped in a corner. 

Photography by Molly Rose

Shake, Shake, Shake

With so many bar tools available for purchase, Henderson says one tool in particular can take you from beginning bartender to full-fledged mixologist. “If you have a fine strainer that’s going to really up the ante on any of your shaken cocktails. They’ll be smooth, pulp-free, and extremely easy to drink,” she says. 

Design by Karen Nepacena; Photography by John Shum

Forever a Classic

While it’s great to consider the design elements and stock the bar with the best tools, Henderson also has some practical advice for throwing the perfect party. “Have a great playlist, and also have a stocked bathroom,” she says. If you’re ready to get started, consider making Henderson’s favorite cocktail. “I love an Old Fashioned and love to add a single luxardo maraschino cherry as the garnish,” she says. 

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