While any bar or bar cart beckons with its promise of boozy revelry, there’s something extraordinarily special about a vintage bar. Be it an Art Deco bar cart topped with a crew of antique coupes, or a teak trolley outfitted in stately, silver-banded Dorothy Thorpe barware, a few vintage touches can go a long way to creating a home bar that feels like the equivalent of a transportive watering hole you’d find downtown. If you’re looking to create your own vintage-inspired bar, start here! We’re revealing all of the tools you need to mix up something that’s truly cheers-worthy.
If you’re home hasn’t been endowed with a built-in bar, a bar cart is likely in the cards. Bar carts come in a staggering array of styles these days. From brass to Lucite to rattan to teak — if you can dream it, there’s likely a bar cart to match. Think of a bar cart as your stage. Choose something that speaks to the home bar décor ideas you want to create, whether you’re aiming for a classic gentlemen’s lair aura or something more retro and swanky.
A menagerie of glassware is key to setting a spirited scene. Here are three styles we like to mix and match with abandon.
You may find your company’s opinions mixed when it comes to actually sipping out of colored glassware. (Purists tend to like their poison straight in every sense of the word.) But for aesthetic purposes alone, we say, layer in a festive colored glassware set or two to your collection! Among our favorites? Carlo Moretti glassware for vivid, jewel-tone coupes and goblets, Val Saint Lambert for towering cut-to-clear glassware, and Fostoria for depression-era glassware in smoky grays, pinks, and blues. Searching for bohemian glassware and Murano glassware is also likely to yield vibrant, gem-colored treasures.
MCM Bar Glassware
The era that gave us the liquid lunch also gave us a jaunty assortment of glassware that’s perfect for elevating any bar. Whether you’re decorating a Mid-Century bar or not, consider factoring in a few rocks glasses or tumblers from MCM brands. Culver Ltd. produced some of the era’s most novel pieces. Look for the gold-embossed glasses featuring some of the era’s hallmark patterns like Moorish and Florentine designs, celestial and zodiac themes, and more. Georges Briard glasses are available in similar styles, and don’t overlook Dorothy Thorpe. A set of roly poly glasses designed by the unofficial first lady of glassware is a welcome addition to any bar.
The glint and shine added by a set of metal drinkware can have a striking impact on a home bar. It’s also ideal for lending a bar a storied feel. Consider designs by historic heavyweights like Godinger and Sheffield for a classic Regency feel. For something more free-spirited, consider Indian Lassi cups. Beautifully etched and available in both short and tall sizes, these pieces are perfect for lending a bar an unexpected touch. Julep cups, a touch more refined with their beaded trim, can offer a similar effect.
In addition to aiding in drink assembly, vintage bar tools lend character to a bar. Consider peppering in any of the below to curate a one-of-a-kind set-up.
Shakers, Jiggers, Ice Buckets and More
For the biggest impact, consider factoring in sizable bar equipment like an ice bucket. Ice buckets can be procured in classical styles as well as more retro designs. An old champagne bucket also works wonders — and when not in use, makes a brilliant vase. When it comes to smaller bar tools, jiggers, shakers, picks, and swizzle sticks are all worth considering. Napier barware is a favorite of barware enthusiasts for its playful silver-plated designs. Search for quirky shot glasses as well as figural shakers shapes like race cars and zeppelins. Linen cocktail napkins, whether monogrammed or simply crafted from a stand-out textile are also a great way to up your bar’s visual appeal and vintage quota.
Lead image design by Bari Benson / Photo by Brie Williams