Is your party season in full swing? Or is it time for last orders please, as far as you’re concerned, and you’re now snuggling down to a well-earned rest and recycling the empties? Whatever stage you are at during this last build up to Christmas, I recently came across these marvellous drinks cabinets that are fast becoming the must-have for the contemporary home.
The height of sophistication for most of the twentieth century, drinks cabinets and home bars started to get a rather bad rep towards the eighties – remember Del Boy or the Duckworths? However, join me in embracing the revival of the cocktail cabinet, as I think they have a lot to offer the contemporary living space. Often fairly modest in size, the drinks cabinet (or “bar cart” to Americans) is a great way of adding interest to a small or neglected space, and they serve a curious and practical purpose too.
Let me convince you. Here is a selection of some of my favourite drinks cabinets. Whether you fancy yourself as a retro trolley-dolly, or feel the need to channel Mr Carson when you’re entertaining, there is a piece here to suit everyone.
To start with, here is the urbane offering from Gallery Direct. The appropriately-named Jeeves has everything you could want from a drinks cabinet: clean retro lines, suave black interior with mirrored back panel, a subtle touch of bling from the silver leaf gilding… At £1,247.50, it’s a statement piece as well as a cupboard. This smooth cabinet would definitely take its martini shaken, not stirred.
If you like a well-fitted cabinet, try the Reede bar from West Elm London. In acorn-stained walnut veneer, it is a perfect 1950s style “bar cart”, to use the American term. It’s the kind of thing I imagine our young gents using in the 1954 Esquire Handbook for Hosts, a guidebook that assumes that all chaps have access to a home bar. This would sit perfectly in a retro-style scheme, and it has a rather masculine feel that suggests City bachelor pad. At £599, the Reede Bar is a fabulous option, and it’s actually a really useful piece of furniture with its pleasing storage options. The cabinet for the person who likes to know that the corkscrew is stored safely.
1920s inspired chic
The Next generation
I was delighted to find Madison, this reproduction cabinet at High Street favourites Next; and at £499, the Madison is a great value drinks cabinet. Think The Great Gatsby and Art Deco elegance. The mirrored front would also lighten up that unloved corner we discussed earlier. The three shelves inside give you plenty of space for cocktail glasses (and Next also have some rather lovely champagne saucers to complete the look at a sensible price). A great example of how the High Street can be your design friend.
The Wolf Hall look
If this is a cocktail cabinet, I’ll have a Bloody Maria thanks! The “Maria” cabinet is designed by Young and Battaglia under their British brand Mineheart. Maria is lovingly made in England – and what could possibly be more English than this combination of traditional portrait and eccentric customisation?
Made from satin black finished MDF, the elegant Tudor lady has been digitally reproduced, and the image retains the wonderful detail of her luxurious costume. A wonderful cabinet to team with plush fabrics and richly dramatic colours. At 1400 high, she could also make a marvellous small wardrobe (I can’t stop thinking of her as “she”! This is a cabinet with real personality…).You can find our beautiful damsel at Mineheart’s website for £2,660.
Her sister cabinet, Elizabeth, featured in my Ideal Home room set last year, where her remarkable beauty helped the cabinet take centre stage.
Just a fairy tale…
OK, this is probably beyond most budgets, but the Fairytale Drinks Cabinet is so lovely, I had to mention it. At £12,999, it’s not an impulse buy, but for that, you do get 24 carat-gold gilded legs and hand-painted tiles. Designed by Marco Sousa, it pays homage to the styles of his hometown of Oporto. Inside, the quilted effect marine-hued fabric would keep your vintage Port bottles safe, and there is a shelf and three drawers.
Just in case, it’s available at The Longest Stay… Architectural and delicate at the same time, this really is a thing of beauty.
The eclectic look
I love this one. A cocktail of a cabinet with a cherry on top, it’s as fun and vibrant as a Manhattan or a Blue Lagoon. Inspired by Gaudi’s Park Güell in Barcelona, the Malabar Templo cabinet is hand painted with vivid traditional tiles and gold leaf. Inside, is a practical interior of three cabinets in different sizes and three small drawers. The arch-shaped Caviuna wood legs give this cabinet a quirky elegance. Available again from The Longest Stay priced £9,942, the Portuguese-made Malabar is not for every sitting room – but I think it’s great…
Wheel out the old favourite…
Everyone’s mum had one of these – and we’re finally realising why! If your budget won’t run to a full-on cabinet, you can still capture Margot’s Good Life with this walnut veneered mid-century trolley from West Elm London The rails and castors make this the perfect entertaining accessory for the mid-century hostess.
No “getting trolleyed” comments please. This is a great option if you want to splash the booze but not the cash. And I get the feeling that once you start using a trolley, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without one…
So those are just a few of my favourites. To be honest, as ever, I love them all! And I love the fact that behind the theatre of a home cocktail bar is a practical piece of furniture. We all need somewhere to store the gin, after all, and some of these cabinets come with great storage.
Be a bit different this Christmas, and serve the egg-nog from a wonderful vintage drinks trolley. Forget Del Boy’s cocktails or Coronation Street anti-chic – the drinks cabinet is the perfect accessory for the sophisticated modern host.
If you’d like to recreate some of the fabulous retro looks we’ve discussed here, just drop me a line.Tracey Andrews Interiors.