Creating Your Bar

Jennifer Eisenstadt is a decorator based in Brooklyn, NY. She adorned my NYC apartment almost ten years ago, and I still walk in every day in awe of where I live. She has also been tweaking my summer house every year, adding touches and upgrades with her discriminating taste. Jenny definitely has “the eye,” mixing high and low to make a house look superb. I recently talked bars and bar carts with her, a home feature enjoying a well-deserved renaissance. Below is my Q&A with Jennifer.

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FO40: Why do you think the home bar is making such a comeback?

Jennifer Eisenstadt: Bar carts are indeed making a comeback! Aesthetically they look appealing and oh-so inviting, but I think their renewed popularity has more to due with efficiency since they allow for a seamless transition from work to play. Having an elegant, stocked bar area (whether it is an actual wet bar, bar cart or bar tray) means that no matter how long your day was at work, you are always “guest-ready”. They are also a ready reminder to actually stop (or at least pause) to enjoy the comforts of home!
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FO40: When designing a bar or bar cart, what is the first thing you think of?

JE: I think of the practical bits first: what kind of space do we have to work with? are there any children or pets that we need to consider?
• The bar needs a dedicated area that suits the inhabitants of the home. No matter how gorgeous your barware is, it won’t look good if it is surrounded my mail, keys and other tidbits.
• Bar carts are as chic as can be, but they aren’t a good fit for households with small children or exuberant tail waggers. An elevated bar tray or bar cabinet is a better choice.

FO40: What are some essentials you should stock a bar with?

JE: When stocking a bar, I think it’s important to consider what you and those near and dear like to drink. I love the sparkle and drama of bottles and hardware, but it’s important to leave space to actually prepare a drink. There’s no sense laying out four different tequilas if you’re really a vodka drinker (though do stock a top-shelf brand tequila!) Four to six bottles of high quality liquor should do the trick- be sure to include one “brown” one for the bourbon/whiskey drinker you’re bound to entertain from time to time. A good quality shaker always comes in handy and looks handsome on display. And always make sure to have a lemon and lime on hand in the refrigerator and some nuts in the cupboard.
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FO40: What about barware?

JE: There are so many gorgeous options when it comes to barware. I have a soft spot for vintage silver and crystal mixers, ice buckets and accessories. Bergdorf Goodman and the Antiques and Artisans Antiques Center in Stamford, CT have an excellent selection. A few small crystal bowls and a cutting board are other essentials. Right now I am also wild for Murano tumblers, particularly from Laguna B.

FO40: What are some tips on making your bar look elegant and not too busy?

JE: I am not opposed to a busy bar. I was recently in a friends home that was designed by Miles Redd, and I fell madly in love with her bar cart, which is practically overflowing. As long as there is no random clutter and there is enough room to actually make a drink, I say go for it! Make sure to change your bar up for the season. Just a single flower in a pretty vase or a set of cute cocktail napkins can make a big difference.

FO40: Do you have a favorite bar or bars you’ve designed.

JE: Well… my favorite bar cart is in your Southampton house. There is nothing like a diamond in the rough, and when I found that bar cart in a rather grim antique shop in CT I knew I’d found a treasure! And I must say that you and Dave have stocked it beautifully and your home is indeed always ready to fun and relaxation!
As far as my favorite bar goes, I recently installed a sensational wet bar at the top of a spiral staircase that has the works. There is an ice maker, a fridge, abundant counter space and mirrored shelves on the sides for glasses. I’ll share a picture soon, but my client and I are still in intense negotiation about the art and whether we should lacquer the walls. Fingers crossed that I prevail!
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For more on Jennifer, check out her website.

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