Right before COVID hit, we got our kitchen re-done. Well, it was supposed to be the kitchen, but it quickly spiraled out of control until the project included knocking down a wall, replacing the flooring on the entire first floor of the house, and painting every visible wall as well. Thankfully we got it done when we did because the original kitchen was a complete disaster, and the renovation helped alleviate the house-bound-ness imposed by COVID. Like many other things in life, though, one thing leads to another so it was upstairs to re-do the master and guest bathroom. Then when the weather turned nice (New England nice) we finally got the three-season porch finished (now a two season porch but with global warming, who knows what it’ll turn into!). From a decision standpoint, it was primarily my wife who was driving these projects; she was running point with the contractors, and had The Vision for what each of these rooms would become. Thankfully we are in sync with our aesthetics, which made my input pretty much a rubber-stamp, and not to get too cliche but she cares most about the “public” floors of the house as well as the “living” space (bedrooms and such). In return, I got The Basement.

Despite having half-assed almost everything he did, the previous owner did us the favor of finishing the basement with drywall and laminated flooring. When we originally bought the house we used the basement as the “entertainment room”: large screen TV, all the consoles, sectional couch and, at the time, a dedicated play space for our young daughter. Part of the basement was reserved for my computer room, which remains to this day and is where I’m writing this post from. Hello from the basement! But over time, the basement fell out of favor and became a place where we’d store stuff. The sectional couch got ruined, and my elderly dog felt comfortable “claiming the space as his own” if you get my drift. With so much clutter and a frustrating inability to clean absolutely everywhere that needed it, my wife shunned the basement for other parts of the house, leaving me and the dog as it’s overwhelmed caretakers.

Early this year, the dog took a turn for the worst and had to be laid to rest. While this saddened me greatly, it was a Need. My wife, also saddened but to less effect, saw the bright side of this event: she felt comfortable enough now to want to reclaim the basement, and so we busted ass to clean out the years of stored goods, deep-cleaned the floors, painted all the walls, bought organizational materials, and new furniture. Now, it is once more the entertainment center of the house as well as my office.

While my wife did once more take point on this renovation, there was one aspect that was completely mine: the bar.

I have absolutely no idea why I wanted a bar, but I have always wanted a bar. My original plan was actually to build a bar, but while we were out looking at furniture we happened to find a phenomenal substitute which is probably for the best because I can barely build a sentence, let alone a bar.

I think the idea stemmed from a recurring appointment I have with friends to come over to my place every other Monday evening. We usually sat at our newly renovated kitchen island, then moved to the newly renovated two season porch, season permitting. We would often share interesting beers as New Hampshire’s choke-hold over liquor sales doesn’t include brews which means there are a lot of specialty stores featuring a wide variety of choices. When the basement renovation was on the table, it meant we could convene down there, and what better place to sit around and drink beers than a bar…at home!

What I have found, though, is that running a home bar can be a real pain in the ass. Of course, there’s the guests of honor, the liquor, which has the audacity of running out as one drinks it. We have also spent a lot on drinkware, because of course we need martini glasses, rocks glasses, margarita glasses, those copper mule mugs you see there, various beer glasses of different shapes and sizes, wine glasses of the stemmed and stemless variety, and at least a few shot glasses, strictly for measuring purposes of course. I have a whole cabinet of “extras”, things like mini cans of Coke and Sprite as well as tonic water, ginger beer, bitters, nips of red wine, sugar cubes, and additives of all sorts.

There’s also the tools. Geezus, I had no idea bartending required so many damn tools.

Thing is, I have a list as long as my arm of tools that I don’t have and that I would like to have. My wishlist overfloweth, but Father’s Day is coming up so I’m hopeful.

At the end of the day (but not every day, of course), it’s a nice place to sit that’s just different enough from the rest of the house that it feels like being “away” without the annoyance of having to get presentable enough to leave the house. Even if all I’m drinking is a Shirley Temple, it’s been a good place to relax now that we’ve run out of house to renovate.

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