How To Stock the Bar

Decorating expert Phoebe Howard brings back happy hour by creating an impromptu bar that's fit for Don Draper.
Zoe Gowen

Find the Right Spot 
Look for a sturdy piece of furniture with enough room around it to allow people to congregate while pouring drinks. Then choose a tray that works with your setting—wood, wicker, and silver are stylish options.

Gather the Essentials
On the tray, set out basic liquors (vodka, bourbon, scotch, and gin) and mixers (tonic water, club soda, and ginger ale) with pretty packaging. Add an ice bucket, a small bowl for lemons and limes, and a cup to hold stirrers. "Sprinkle in glass and silver items for a bit of sparkle," says Phoebe.

Splurge on Beautiful Glasses 
"This is one area where a little decadence goes a long way," says Phoebe. "I love the feel of a fine old-fashioned glass in my hand."

Make it Special
Phoebe says, "Bar trays set the mood for fun entertaining. The clink of the ice cubes, the stirring and shaking, and the flourish of a citrus twist evoke a bygone era when cocktail hour was a ritual that got extra attention and preparation. Keep a good recipe book on hand for fun new drink ideas to liven up every gathering."

Get the Look:
Glasses: William Yeoward Corinne Tumblers, from $38, Table Matters; 866/861-0125
Bottle Opener: Scaled Leather Bottle Opener, $16; jaysonhome.com
Ice Bucket: Wicker Ice Bucket with Tongs, $85; kevinscatalog.com
Mixers: Fever-Tree Club Soda and Tonic Water, from $31/24; amazon.com
Tray: Nickel Plated Trays, set of two, $142; mothology.com
Carafe: Glass Half Full Carafe, $34; wisteria.com