my sitting room drinks table

Well, it's the weekend and I've got a celebratory drink on my mind for surviving another week of craziness. 

the casual living area drinks tray

This has lead me to think about the drinks table, and it's super sized cousin, the home bar. I read last year in The Australian newspaper that home bars were again becoming big news. Apparently they are the new Sales Feature demanded by The Market in a luxury house (the home theatre has obviously infiltrated the mass market too much, as have full Miele kitchens...). Used by caterers, and often adjoining casual living and entertaining areas (such as outdoor pools) apparently Designers are being inundated with requests to make the home bar look like an upmarket boutique hotel. Mirror, chrome, marble and every liquor and spirit known to man is required to give the edge over its rather more subdued 70's parent. 



Home bars back in the 70s in Australia revolved more around the fantasy of having your own pub at home with you playing the role of the publican. They tended to feature wood panelling, beer mats, bowls of nuts and a miniature keg to pull your own beers from. The new incarnation is a slightly more glossy and sophisticated take on all that, but still (to me) fairly unnecessary unless you entertain constantly or harbour a deep longing to play shop as an adult.



But the drinks table… well, that's another matter. There is nothing that says "welcome" or "relax" (or possibly "alcoholic") to me than a well curated drinks tray. 



Bar carts recently become a Thing, and are now easily available in Australia through a variety of suppliers, as well as frequently being available at estate auction (called tray mobiles, and far cheaper than the brand new versions). But to be honest, I've never understood why you need wheels on it. They are generally left in a stationary position somewhere, so I'm more in favour of a decent sized tray with the essentials on it. A few bottles of your favourite tipple, mixers, ice bucket and glasses, some citrus and you have a welcoming drinks tray. If you want to fancy it up with attractive stripey prop straws, then by all means go for it. 



I have two drinks trays in my house - one on the side board in our dining area (a part of the casual living zone). This is used fairly frequently as we are generally in this area. The other drinks tray is in the library/ sitting room. It's smaller and is less frequently used. At some point we will have to do away with the permanent drinks tray as our children become teenagers, and we start keeping everything alcoholic in the lockable cellar. Mr AV and I both have vivid memories of sneaking things out of our parent's cellars, either when underaged, or after than in student enforced poverty to take to a party. 



Two incidences in my family spring to mind. The first was when my parents decided to have a Gin and Tonic. It was a hot day, so my Father fetched the half full bottle of chilled gin from the cellar fridge rather than using the bottle on the sideboard. He spent some time putting it together and presented one to my mother who sipped it and asked him if he'd remembered to put the Gin in. Yes he had, he assured her. She sipped it again and said she couldn't taste it. So Dad poured some more in. Same result. At this point my younger sister and I, who were sitting on the sofas nearby started whispering to each other "have you been drinking the Gin?" Yes, it turned out we both had (and possibly my older sister too). We used to decant it out of the bottle then top it back up with water to the same level…. 



The second instance occurred on Christmas Day. As per family tradition the pudding was to be lit up with flaming Brandy. Except that Dad hadn't checked how much Brandy he had. There was only a few drops left. So he improvised. He pulled out the full bottle of Vodka a patient had given him around 10 years before as a substitute. My parents never drank Vodka, so it was full. He poured it liberally all over the pudding, my sisters and I held our breath, he lit a match and we all watched the match fizzle. Another match, still no flame. The pudding would just not light. The extended family was surprised, Dad confused. How could it not flame? Well, unfortunately that was another bottle my sisters and I had gradually diluted with water over the years. Essentially Dad had poured water over the Christmas pudding. It was a soggy, water logged pudding that year.



So for the time being I'll enjoy my drinks tables in all their welcoming glory before the bottles are stashed in the cellar and only brought out with keyed access. 



Enjoy the weekend!    


more images of drinks trays via Pinterest

30 comments:

  1. I can't think of anything that is more welcoming than a "well curated drinks tray". I'd trade away the pool, designer kitchen, and a view of The Garden of Eden for that tray, your library and that tortoise/monkey piece.

    What's the statute of limitations on Gin poaching Down Under? In Chicago we consider it a Capital Offense.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Well, my sisters and I still talk about the Gin in hushed terms. My mother tended to raise a very arched eyebrow over that one with a disapproving look… the vodka was another matter however and was not missed and more laughed about when we realised why it never took to flaming.

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    2. Must have totally spoiled the pud though. As the family puddling chef this would have been a bigger disappointment to me than the loss of the brandy/vodka.
      When our son was around 15 he was generally pretty sensible so we'd decided he didn't need a baby sitter any more. We came home from a dinner one evening and he was still up - looking very strange and soon said he didn't feel well. Suddenly he was very sick which smelled quite odd. I asked him what he'd been eating or drinking - he confessed to having raided the drinks cabinet - he'd consumed what was left of a bottle of Galliano (luckily not very much) plus little tastes of other things. It made him so dreadfully sick that he never did it again. Don't think he's ever had Galliano since. And it put him off spirits and liqueurs in general.
      But I do rather worry when I see drinks table all set up in homes where there are children. Just about every child must be tempted at some point to sample the contents - as all your family did!
      When I was a young teenager my father used to let me have a very tiny glass of whatever he was drinking so I knew what it tasted like - and he'd tell me what it was, what it was made from and when it was normally drunk. So I was never tempted to do it in secret because I just had to ask and he'd pour a tiny glass. Mostly though as a young teenager I thought they tasted pretty disgusting so very rarely asked. The one thing I remember liking was crème de menthe, probably because it was sweet and minty flavoured. He'd pour a tiny dash into a glass of lemonade for me and I thought I was Christmas - and so sophisticated! Even converted my girlfriends into trying it and liking. Luckily I grew out of it and now general loathe sweet drinks.
      Enjoy your drinks tables while you can! They look gorgeous! Pammie xxx

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    3. That's very funny re your son Pammie, and yes I agree with you that if it's not under lock and key it's probably far too tempting to most teenagers to sample a little on occasion. To this day I have a deep aversion to Vodka - can't stand the smell it makes my stomach literally turn.
      Very funny too about your very adult creme de menthe drink. I remember asking for a midori lemonade when out to dinner at a restaurant aged around 19 as a pre dinner drink. Horrifically sweet (as in you can literally feel your teeth rotting away with the sugar content), and my grandmother was so intrigued as to what it was that she ordered one too, and it then politely said it was very nice indeed! Thankfully my tastes have matured a smidge since then. I wouldn't touch midori with a barge pole! xx

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  2. My partner has all his fancy spirits in an art deco cabinet. Drinks are for display purposes only as he is generally only a beer and wine drinker.

    Have a great weekend and bottoms up! x

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    1. I can't say we have a huge spread - never a cocktail mixed here, but a G&T or a Pimms in Summer are very nice indeed at the end of the day. The Art Deco cocktail cabinet sounds v. attractive x

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  3. Oh Heidi,
    This did bring back memories. My dad had his home bar in the 70's in our family room. It was his pride and joy which he built himself with mirror backed shelves for the glasses and a wooden bench top with a bar and room for a bar fridge( the good old fashioned white one) underneath. He had every liquor and spirits around and he was a dab hand at mixing a cocktail. My dad would come in from work every night and the first thing he would do, would pour himself a small sweet sherry from his beloved bar. The memories. He is now 81. I remember when my sister and I were old enough to partake our first drink it was a Pimms and Lemonade with all the trimmings- cucumber slices and the paper umbrella!!!!!.

    I too have a drinks tray with spirits in glass bottles funnily enough mostly given as wedding presents 33years ago and now very much back in fashion. Funny how things return. Enjoy your week and love your sitting room.
    Marilyn xx

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    Replies
    1. Oh I love the memories Marilyn! Pimms is my drink of choice, and you've now got me thinking about the paper umbrellas. They were the thing back in those days at fancy resorts. Your Dad obviously had a taste for the finer thing in life.
      And yes, everything is cyclical - lucky you held on to the bottles! Have a lovely weekend x

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  4. Hello Heidi,

    Well those were some very spirited stories of mother's ruin disappearing. My parents always had alcohol in the house to make drinks for their guests. I never considered the fact that it was kept in a locked cabinet such a big deal until you pointed out the sneaky nature of teenagers and young adults. Now you are making me think about my own household and its teenage resident. Could you share the legal drinking age in Australia? In the UK it is 18 but if you are accompanied by an adult, it can be as young as 16 or 17 I seem to recall. Here in California, it is 21, which to my British nature sounds terribly old.

    Enjoy your weekend tipple. We just got through a couple of bottles of Pimms last weekend with our luncheon guests. It was a sweltering day, unlike anything we've seen for years. It was the perfect summer drink.

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    1. It's 18 here too CD, and 21 seems far too old. I remember visiting the US aged 24 and being asked for ID which seemed so funny to us having been legal then for so many years in Australia/ UK.
      Pimms is definitely the drink of summer for me. I have strong associations with it from the time I spent living in London where a place we used to frequent added so much fruit, cucumber and ice and it was delicious! Have a lovely weekend x

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  5. Your children will have no fun or stories to tell!

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    Replies
    1. This is true… but at least my gin won't be watered down!

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  6. NAUGHTTTTTTTY!!!!
    The alcohol was never locked in my parents house. And we did help ourselves from time to time, but normally my mother bought us alcohol for house parties (naughty, I know) and now in our mid twenties and we seldom drink.

    I must admit, I did buy the hendricks brand of gin to have on display at one time. . . and also to make a gin and tonic for my husband as he claims he has never had one, so I make him that in summer as he likes it.

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    Replies
    1. G&T are a nice refreshing drink, but my personal preference is bombay sapphire, or Tanqueray 10. I think tough, it's an acquired taste - as a teenager it was purely the fact that it was clear and the bottle could be topped back up that made it attractive!

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  7. Too funny!!! I liked kahlua so was hard to replace. i haven't set up a drinks station after the Reno BC I drink a lot more when it's sitting there and I love a gin and tonic but it affects my sleep. But it's just so inviting and hard to resist. So do you think you'll get a drinks cabinet in the future with locks on it? Hehe or just stock scotch BC that's not too popular with teens! X

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    Replies
    1. oh yes, I remember anything milky tasting or sweet was very popular with the teens. I suspect the Pimms will be very much the drink of choice of my children (If I were unwise enough to leave it out) as it is a bit lolly-water ish. I think the cellar with lock will be enough - it's not far from the living area and not hard to access for us, so that will probably rule over a lockable drinks cabinet. Funny you can't trust yourself by setting up a drinks cabinet! xx

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  8. Isn't it funny how we assumed our parents would NEVER notice
    the watered down booze. My brother tried that with whiskey -
    it didn't just taste weak, it looked weak!

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    Replies
    1. Ah, you see we had the sneaky edge on your brother Barbara - we would only go for the colourless liquids. Then we could top it up with tap water with no chance of anyone noticing until they tasted it and found it weak. Unfortunately we all thought we were doing it alone, so the fact that it was x3 meant that there was very little alcohol flavour (or alcohol) at all left by the end of all the topping up!

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  9. So funny re the vodka/gin thievery!

    I have a drinks tray in my living room but am hardly ever tempted by it!!! Go figure.

    I saw a movie recently, and Australian flick who name I have forgotten about an ad man in Sydney who gives up drinking for a year and he had the aforementioned bar with mirror chrome and marble in his water front manse.

    Happy weekend to you xx

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    1. The big bar is all the go in the waterfront mansions apparently. I'm not surprised you hardly touch your drinks tray - you're more a champagne kind of girl I think. Happy weekend to you too - I'm racing you to finish The Churchills book! About to hit WW2. xx

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  10. So funny! I remember stealing bits of booze from my Dad's liquor cabinet and it's why I don't drink any hard alcohol whatsoever now. We have a Scotch tray for MrBP, I don't think our Rascals would dare to steal it but gosh who knows... though the water-down trick definitely wouldn't work with single-malt!
    I remember those bars in the 1970's, they were very popular in the town I grew up in and many homes had them with the wood panels, shelves of bottle and glasses etc. They look so dated now don't they.
    I do like those trays of arranged bottles and glasses, I'm always attracted to them on Pinterest and the bar carts are very popular here just now too.
    I hosted a dinner for 25 here last night so there were wine bottles everywhere along with coolers of beer etc... could have used a bartender really but at my house everyone knows to help themselves, thank goodness.
    Have a fabulous weekend Heidi, loved this post XO

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  11. Never had bar in a house I've lived in but have had the drinks tray like yours. My grandparents had a very glamorous red walled built in bar hidden by two black doors in the sunroom. Bitter lemon was my favourite drink of choice at that particular watering hole.

    At yours I think a G&T would my choice

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  12. We have a 30s style drinks cabinet that belonged to one of The Farmer's great aunts. We are not huge spirit drinkers (the occasional whiskey or G and T but little else) so it stays pretty full really. The wine cupboard/fridges however….

    The cabinet comes with a key which may well prove useful in years to come as, given the genetic material they have, I think it is a given that our kids will raid it. My friends and I used to make a classy concoction known as "rocket fuel" which involved just nicking a few cm out of each bottle and mixing it together. My problem was the fact that my brother may get there first on a weekend and hence the levels would change more noticeably if we both did a little thievery.

    I still can't drink Kahlua - was terribly sick when I was 18 after drinking lots of kahlua and milk (why? why?).

    Hope all well with you Heidi.

    T
    xxx

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  13. Love the idea and in our house a drinks trolley would hold our pretty whisky bottles.Sadly, the cat would have it all crashing to the floor faster than you could say "single malt", so it all stays behind closed doors. :-)

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  14. I finally finished off organising my study today and I wondered whether it was inappropriate to put a second bar cart in there. I now feel confident that having a cellar, a wine fridge, a beer fridge and 2 bar carts is A- ok. I also fully accept that my teenagers will (and probably already have) watered down all the booze in each of them. Which may be a blessing to my liver.
    Heidi - your house is looking truly incredible. Well done on all and every part of it. I very much look forward to watching your career in interiors and design blossom. Congratulations.
    (K of - the now defunct - The Blog a House Built) xxx

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  15. Your stories of stealing the booze are hilarious. I only stole booze once: some Cointreau (of all things!) which I stowed in my vessel of choice, a bubble bath bottle from the body shop. Arriving back at boarding school I shared my contraband with my dorm friends, only for us to discover that: (a) a 100ml bottle is not going to do much split between 4; and (b) it is very hard to properly wash out all of the strawberry bubbles from those pesky containers! In my defence I was about 12 at the time!
    Library looks great by the way! x

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  16. Love this post. We have an exposed drinks table but suppose it will shift as the children age. Hard to be a glam parent!

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  17. What a hillarious story! I was always offered a taste of whatever was being drunk by my parents and presume that's why I was never tempted to do what you did. Or maybe I wasn't as naughty? ! Ha Ha! Love the resurgence of a drinks station whether stationary, mobile of of the more elaborate bar-type. Yours look particulary welcoming. Enjoy!

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  18. This post is very 'en pointe' Heidi!! Just this week I have been re-curating my drinks trays and improving their appearance. I've added two little bowls of lemons, and those gorgeous Sanpellegrinos for colour! Sounds trite but we really do have a friend who adores them and usually has 3 or 4 during a visit! Bar carts are indeed a thing but I don't have room for one! I use wicker trays for my drinks and this can easily be carried outside if need be. So enjoyed this post and distinctly remember similar incidents involving my kids when they were teenagers! Hillarious story about the soggy Christmas pudding! xx

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  19. Heidi when you come to my house you will understand the joy of the bar cart! I use a Metro cart with big wheels and it travels all around my house. It also makes frequent trips up and down my driveway if the party is outdoors. I've even wheeled it across the street to my neighbor's house (in deep snow). But generally speaking, I understand your point. I don't like bar carts that are obviously not intended to move with tiny weak wheels. Loved reading about your trip to Hobart. I hadn't ever heard of Hobart until you and FF posted about it.

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