What Can I Get You?

Jun 20, 2022 | Tips & Tricks

Little known fact about me: When I was in design school at night and working during the day doing marketing for a local architecture firm, I found myself constantly strapped for cash. I decided to get a side hustle as a bartender. I went to the Borders Books on Michigan Avenue, bought, and read “The New International Bartender’s Guide” and ended up scoring a position at a restaurant bar near my office called Ben Pao. They had a signature Mai Tai drink and if I couldn’t remember how to make a drink that a customer requested, I would suggest that they try the signature Mai Tai instead. It was served in a fishbowl and garnished with maraschino cherries and pineapple wedges and was probably the equivalent of three cocktails.

These days my imbibing is more white wine spritzer than a boozy punch, but I still appreciate the craft of a cocktail, and creating a welcoming environment for a guest.

Chicago Interior Design | Claudia Martin Design | Bar

For the serious entertainer, this bar was designed to mimic the selections at your favorite local watering hole. A Singapore Sling, an Old Fashioned with your selected rye or bourbon, and a Dirty Martini can all be prepared with ease. To accommodate the variety of top shelf liquor, we designed custom, lit risers placed in front of the windows. Wall cabinets with interior lighting house a selection of rock glasses and assorted stemware. Below the counter, beverage centers are stocked with craft beers, sodas, and mixers; an ice maker churns out clear, cubed ice that won’t dilute your drink; cabinets stock cutting boards and vessels for citrus, olives, and cocktail napkins. A bar sink and dishwasher drawer keep things running efficiently and quartz countertops and stainless-steel tile keep things clean and tidy. If a guest would like a glass of wine, that is easily accomplished, but with a full bar like this, it might be a good time to try a new cocktail or mocktail.

What Can I Get For You? | Claudia Martin Design

What is better than a home bar stocked with your favorite wine, beer, and spirits? How about a sliding window so you can pass those drinks to your friends and family who are out on the patio? This bar has a very relaxed vibe due to the recycled wood ceiling, pipe bar shelves, a chiseled edge countertop, oversized bulb lights, and worn leather stools. But behind the rustic Americana façade, every inch is maximized for bar tools, towels, and solo cups. Drawers were outfitted with dividers to easily accommodate highball and martini glasses. A pullout for extra liquor and mixers, an icemaker, dishwasher drawers, sink, and trash pullout round out the functionality. A rustic spout faucet is wall-mounted to the low backsplash. I love space planning down to this level of detail. Designing not just what the space will look like, but how it will function, and how it will make a client’s life better.

Luxe Bar Cart | Claudia Martin Design

A fabulous alternative to a home bar – a designated room with a sink, icemaker, beverage refrigerators and all the trimmings, is the not-so-lowly bar cart. A bar cart offers three of my favorite things: portability, personality, and flexibility. Typically located near the entertaining spaces of living rooms and dining rooms, a well-placed bar cart makes it easy for guests to help themselves. Maybe you’re moving it near the kitchen to do an ice cream sundae bar with all the fixings or maybe you’ve created a signature cocktail for your dinner party. Bar carts can be new, vintage, or not a bar cart at all. Maybe it’s an old rolltop desk. Regardless of what it is, it wants to be styled – glass barware and decanters, a few bottles of your favorite spirits, beer or wine, cocktail napkins – yes, yes, yes. Adding layers – flowers or a plant, books, and artwork create an interesting tableau and provide a conversation starter. And isn’t that the point to inviting someone over in the first place?