Designing Your Man Cave Bar

The Man Cave… it sounds like a deceptively simple concept, but in reality the possibilities for yours are virtually endless. This is the space you go when you want to get away from the world for a quiet interlude, but it’s likely also the place you head when the guys are coming over for a night of who-knows-what and plenty of carousing.

Nothing facilitates either of these scenarios better than a man cave bar; you can stock it with all your favorite drinks, be it beer, whiskey or bourbon. It’ll help you stay organized, and it also creates its own unique social zone inside the cave where friends congregate.

A man cave bar will enhance the overall decor theme in your space or use a custom solution that fits a smaller area. If you’re looking into equipping your cave with its own mini tavern, consider some of the following design ideas to help you along in the process.

Planning and Placing

If you’re just starting out with your design and have the budget to remodel or build your cave, you might want to consider installing a custom-built option that looks like it was meant for your space. If you’re thinking of something that doesn’t stick out too far or claim too much floor space, a wall bar is a great design, often called a murphy bar, your buddies can simply walk up to it and make their own drinks.

A man cave bar will look similar to a wall in your kitchen for the most part. It can have cabinets below (and mounted on the wall above if you desire extra storage), a sink if you have the plumbing, and a refrigerator that suits the space. You can mount shelves above the setup for alcohol and glassware storage, or you can conceal it all behind cabinet doors. If you don’t have room for a fridge, make sure there’s enough counter space for a compact ice maker or kegerator at the very least.

You might be interested in a more traditional bar look, which can really make your cave look awesome as long as you have the space. You can still have cabinets, a sink, and storage in the back bar area, but in front of that is where you’ll have the actual bar where your pals can sit and enjoy your personal watering hole.

If you’re planning to build the bar yourself, keep in mind that there are some standard measurements you want to follow. A typical bar is 42 inches high. Making it this height means you shouldn’t have any trouble finding bar stools (these are usually 30 inches tall) to fit well. Any lower, however, and your guests might feel cramped on their seats.

Try to give the bar a foot of overhang so your friends have space for their knees while seated, and give it another 8 inches or so towards the back so you have room to pour drinks. The lower counter in back where you can prep things should be about 36 inches high (with counter-top included) so it’s easier for you to work at.

The great thing about designing your own bar is that you can piece it together with cabinets that match your theme or you can build everything yourself. You also get to choose your counter-top material; slate looks nice and modern while wood looks traditional, and you can even use something like butcher block for a more utilitarian feel.

All this talk about custom-built bars is great and everything, but what are you supposed to do when you don’t have the space or budget for that option, or you’re really not interested in tearing up your existing space to install a ton of cabinets? You can always buy a freestanding bar online.

These normally won’t have any plumbing, but they do have tons of storage in back for bottles and glasses, and some even come with the foot rails already installed along the front. The main benefit of a pre-made bar is that it requires almost no work on your part, and it’s already sized properly to fit your stools (but you can choose the overall length). Whether you’re dreaming of a bamboo-lined tiki bar or handsome, solid oak for a rich, gentlemen’s club effect, chances are good that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.

If space is even more of an issue for you, or you just prefer keeping your options open, a rolling bar cart is another style you can choose. These are typically very compact and feature locking casters on the bottom so you can push yours wherever you want it to sit. Typical bar carts feature two levels; the top is usually some sort of tray with sides to hold your bottles and garnish containers steady while the cart is in motion.

The bottom has space for storing ice buckets and more bottles, but you can also find designs that have built-in slots for hanging wine glasses or drawers for storing tongs, stirrers, and napkins. Bar carts are also available in numerous styles. Consider a brass and glass model for a really traditional, 1950s look, or bring it into the 21st century with a model made of reclaimed wood and welded iron.

Final Considerations

Once you have the main part of your bar installed, there are a few more things you need to remember. First, you need appropriate seating if you have a bar with a counter. Stools themselves are traditional, but their designs don’t have to be. Pick up a chrome and black leather set to give off a biker bar vibe, or try some swiveling wrought iron stools with full backs and cushions for a country club aura. If you are building a bar in your basement, there are a few extra things to consider.

In addition, you obviously need to stock your bar, right? To make virtually any drink you or your guests might order, it’s important to have beer, vodka, gin, bourbon, rum, and tequila. Don’t forget the soda, tonic water, grenadine, fruit juices (lemon, lime, orange, and pineapple), and garnishes.

Once you have all that ready, next comes the most important part of all: enjoying it! Pour something over the rocks and settle into your favorite chair, or host a poker night and break out the cocktail shakers. You’ve just made your man cave infinitely better.