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Well-stocked bar boosts holiday spirits

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010; 12:37 PM

With party plans in full swing, out-of-town guests arriving and well-wishers dropping by, having a bar area at the ready is essential this time of year.

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Whether you have a place in your home perpetually dedicated to drinks or you keep your goods stashed away until needed, having the design basics down and the proper supplies on hand can save you time when you need it most.

Get your plan in order now, and you'll be prepared to set up your spirits at a moment's notice all year round.


You can fashion a bar anywhere you have space for it, including the dining room table, a kitchen counter, a side table or a rolling cart, even one that's meant for outside.

Ideally, your drinks station will be in a well-lit, centrally located spot that has access on at least three sides. Avoid corners and you'll also avoid guests crammed around a small space. If the spot is easily seen from the front door, even better.

"It's very inviting when people walk in and see the bar," says Amanda McClements, writer of the local food blog Metrocurean . "They think, 'There's the bar; I know where to go.' "


Corral bottles and glassware on serving trays to keep things looking pulled together and organized, says Alexandria designer Catherine Hailey . If you don't have trays, place mats or a table runner will work, too.

If you're setting up a full bar, create a bottle shelf by stacking books or bricks, then cover the entire tabletop or counter with a tablecloth, suggests Griz Dwight, principal of Grizform Design Architects in the District . Place some bottles on the stacks rather than lining them all in a row.

"If you can make a bar area visually enticing, it can kick it up a notch," he says.

For mixers, single-serve glass bottles are a better choice than two-liter plastic bottles. Not only will you be able to use the unopened bottles in the future, but large bottles go flat soon after opening and, Dwight says, "a big bottle of Coke can only look so good."

Small mixer bottles can be placed in a tray next to the liquor or stored in baskets below.

And, though it sounds like a good idea, don't put bowls of salty snacks on the bar table. "Set them up in different area," he says. "To be a good bar, you're in and you're out. I don't want that guy snacking on nuts when I'm trying to get my drink."

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