In partnership with Cointreau

Learn How to Set Up a Festive Home Bar with Furniture You Already Own

published Dec 15, 2020
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Credit: Caroline Bivens

When we can’t go out and the company holiday party is a 45-minute Zoom call, is the holiday season still worth celebrating? We say, emphatically: YES! This feels like the right time to celebrate what you do have, to enjoy the company of family and close friends, and to discover new possibilities in your home. In the latest installment of Apartment Therapy’s Style School, Caroline Bivens, who shares her adventures with family, foster kittens, and farmhouse style at C B Designs, shows us everything we need to create a festive seasonal bar setup using a piece of furniture you probably already have.

A key to good entertainment — no matter how small the gathering may be — is good drinks, and a key to good drinks is good ingredients. If you look at a lot of cocktail recipes, one ingredient that pops up over and over again is the iconic orange liqueur, Cointreau. It’s called for by name in hundreds of classic and modern cocktails, and it’s an essential ingredient in crowd favorites like The Original Margarita and The Classic Cosmopolitan. If you’re looking to take your cocktail game to the next level, Cointreau is a great way to do it. Trust us, you’ll taste the difference. 

If you’ve gathered your liquors and supplies and suddenly realize you don’t have a good place, it’s not a problem. In this short video, Caroline shows you everything you need to turn an existing sideboard (or even a desk, after the workday is done) into a festive home bar. It’s the perfect way to make any entertainment feel like a special occasion.

Credit: Caroline Bivens

Add greenery

Nothing says holidays like a little bit of fresh greenery. Here, Caroline shows how to use a wreath and garland to give your existing furniture a festive seasonal look. You can find garlands or small bits of greenery anywhere Christmas trees are sold. This is a great option if you don’t have a ton of extra floor space, plus it makes your home smell amazing.

Add gifts

Caroline decorates her sideboard with faux gifts wrapped in kraft paper and tied with bows, but you could also use any actual gifts you already have under the tree. (How’s that for using what you already have?)

Credit: Caroline Bivens

Use the right tools

You can’t make a cocktail without the right tools. Coordinating barware, like a jigger, strainer, shaker, and an ice bucket, can make an attractive (and also very useful) addition to your bar setup.

Don’t forget the garnishes!

Whether you batch your cocktails or let guests make theirs individually, adding garnishes is a great way to make your drinks feel special. Offer a few different options so guests have their pick. 

Add a signature touch

The finishing touch to Caroline’s bar setup is an ice bucket made of, well, ice. You can make your own using oranges, cranberries, and a little greenery. It’s a great way to keep bottles cold while they’re sitting out, and a great way to make any occasion feel special, even if you’re just celebrating in your living room.

Credit: Caroline Bivens

One drink that will always be a favorite is The Classic Cosmopolitan. It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and sipping one of these from a coupe or martini glass is a great way to make an event feel a little more special. Here’s the recipe:

0.75 oz. Cointreau
2 oz. vodka
0.25 oz. cranberry juice
0.75 oz. fresh lime juice

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake until well-chilled.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with an orange twist.

Of course you’ll want to get a high-quality vodka, but Cointreau is the real star here. Its bright, distinctive citrus flavor is the perfect complement to the tartness of cranberry and lime. Visit Cointreau online for more holiday cocktail inspiration, or just pick up a bottle and get started mixing.