Illustration by Alix Ayoub

Cocktail Kitsch

I love flipping through old family photographs from the 1940s and looking at the beautiful bar carts that my grandparents had, almost as prominent, if not more important than say, the fireplace mantle as the focus in the family home.  Boozy or not, there’s something quite beautiful in taking a moment for yourself, after a long day before the evening begins to create something not only lovely tasting, but lovely looking for yourself. 

There are a plethora of ways to spice up your home bar area by staging a useful and elegant salute to the old-fashioned bar cart ways.  You don’t need much.  In fact, you don’t want much—in terms of investment or clutter—which leaves more money to invest in the booze.  But there is definitely something fetching about creating a space for crafting a cocktail (boozy or virgin)  instead of cracking open a canned margarita.

There are so many beautiful pieces of glassware, old soda spritzers, ice buckets, shakers, and cocktail spoons created in America’s Don Draper hay-daze, and they’re all just waiting to be reclaimed, given a little bit of a polish, and added to update your home bar. 

I started off scouring some of my favorite local thrift stores over the course of a few weeks (I prefer going thrifting Mondays–Wednesdays: it gives the weekender declutterers time to get rid of the good stuff and the stores to stock their shelves).

Patience really pays off in digging and methodically going through the homeware sections of thrift stores for bar treasures. There is so much that is discarded, but with a bit of patience and a keen eye for vision, you can remove some of the junk from the store and create a fun working home bar.  Keep in mind too, that you make the rules and can reinvent the function of items—it’s all about creating a vibe that makes you happy. 

If you aren’t into thrifting or just aren’t having any luck, which happens, hit up some antique shops for your home bar additions.  Expect to pay a bit more for some items, since someone else did the hunting and curating, but there are so many exquisite pre-Target mass production pieces out there, that if you just go looking, you may find some treasure.