If you have always wanted your own bar, wait no more. Going out is fun, but at times can be taxing, fiscally and otherwise. Why not enjoy your favorite drinks at home and reap the benefits of a home bar? Having a theme for your home bar adds that distinctive touch that most commercial bars lack. You will create the ultimate atmosphere for social drinking and storytelling in the comfort of your own home. The coolest bar you have ever been in can be in your living room/basement/garage, with a fine stock of your favorite ales and liquors. All it takes is a little planning (and planing), maybe a couple of work parties with your friends, and your dream of having your own bar can come true.
The first thing to decide on is your theme. I have been to numerous bars around the country, in a variety of themes, and I have noted Tiki lounge, Goth, Wild West, sports, and even dime museum themes. First we will go into the basics of creating your home bar.
The primary necessity for a home bar, themed or not, is a home draft beer system. The easiest way to go about this is the purchase of a kegerator. You can also convert an old fridge or freezer using a kegerator conversion kit, available online. The next thing to do is to place your kegerator and build the actual bar table. Hard wood is preferred for the bar top, but the bar should be framed with more inexpensive wood. It is a good idea to use a kind of wood that is pressure treated, at least for the legs, because these are sure to get wet from spills. A stainless steel or brass foot rail is nice, but you can always go with wood to keep your costs down. Bar stools aren't strictly necessary, but they are nice to have if you are really tricking the bar out with accessories. Make sure that the stools are a neutral color, like black, brown, or dark red, unless you have some special ideas for upholstery that match your theme.
A mirror behind the bar is traditional in most commercial bars, but certainly not as necessary in your home bar. The main purpose of these is to ensure that the bartender can catch someone if they attempt to guzzle from the tap when their back is turned.
For your theme home bar, select some posters or paintings to adorn the walls and give a unified sense of décor. For the Tiki lounge, one would do better with some tribal masks. This theme tends to range from African to Pacific Islander and back again. Make sure that if you are mixing cultures in a Tiki lounge setting that you are at least able to properly identify your décor items and which country they come from. It could lead to some real embarrassment if you are oblivious to the cultural significance of your decorations. Being knowledgeable, on the other hand, can lead to numerous bar side stories to share.
One of the easiest home bar themes is the Wild West or cowboy setting. Just install some swinging saloon style doors and hang up some antiques on the wall. I recommend having an old cowboy hat, some chaps, a lasso, a cow skull - all of these are very easy to come by at little cost. Don't forget the music instruments, either. You will need a washboard, a jug, an old guitar, and a washtub bass. This is probably the most cost effective theme home bar.
It isn't far from the cowboy theme to the Goth theme. Keep all the bones, make the lasso into a noose, and hang black and red velvet from the walls. You will need to keep a selection of red wines available, as well as specialty liquors such as Jaegermeister, Chartreuse, and Absinthe or Pernod, if you can get it. The jukebox should have plenty of the Cure, the Smiths, Bauhaus, NIN, of course, and some Sex Pistols for good measure. The keys to making a successfully dark gothic decorating scheme for your theme home bar are music, rich and exotic beverages, and stocking up once a year during Halloween with skull candles.
Another simple theme is that of the sports bar. Just hang up a few posters, have the T.V. set to the sports channel 24/7 and you have the basics. Usually a pool table is part of such a theme, but if you don't have the room or the money for such an item, a nice collection of tabletop sports history books can cater to those fans who simply must argue about the hottest hitters of 1962. If you want to have a great place to watch the game, a good sized T.V. is a must. It can be covered up when not in use to facilitate person to person communication.
The last theme I would like to discuss here is the Dime Museum bar. This theme home bar is only for the imaginative. The key is illusion. You have amazing things in your home theme bar. You must really believe it when telling about it - "Yes, that shrunken head is real. I acquired it from a rare shop in Chinatown, you should have seen the things they had in there!" Of course, you just got it at the local Halloween Headquarters, but didn't display it until the next spring to throw people off. You can get a baby shoe and claim that it was the shoe of the smallest woman in the world, one of P.T. Barnum's Doll family. You can fill up the room with shelves and cabinets full of curios, dead animals, skulls, old toys, and vintage (or replica) posters. The idea is to make it so crazy and mind boggling that people simply can't comprehend it all. Of course, to make a lasting impression, you will need a couple of centerpiece items, like a real Texas Jackalope or a two-headed snake. For the diligent dime museum collector, these items will come eventually (actually, Texas Jackalopes can even be bought online, along with other gaff creatures; visit www.sideshowworld.com for more information).
It is not too difficult to change your home bar theme either. Why not a gothic theme for All Hallow's Eve, a cowboy theme for summer, a Nordic theme for winter and New Year's Eve? A Viking feast would certainly entice me to visit on New