A punchbowl that rests in the clutches of an octopus, and a sculpted shell held by a delicate coral stand are part of an aluminum barware collection at Z Gallerie. There’s also a faux crocodile service tray in rich eggplant, studded with silver rivets, that makes a sophisticated statement.
Silver cocktail picks and stir sticks topped with airplanes evoke the Second World War. And a mirrored sign with phrases like “Stirred” and “Straight Up” printed in a gold retro font would make great wall art. (www.zgallerie.com )
JC Penney has a whimsical yet elegant wine decanter from Michael Graves Design that features his signature bird as built-in aerator. (www.jcp.com)
At Homegoods, there are hammered metal cocktail shakers with handy drink recipes printed on the side. Standing wine buckets are useful accessories, leaving more room on dining tables and buffets for nicely-sized tools — small muddlers, sieves, scoops and tongs, for example — that will have amateur bartenders looking like experts. (www.homegoods.com ; www.surlatable.com)
Making a good martini may be an art, but how about making your own gin? No bathtub is required, just a kit like one from Uncommon Goods containing all the spices, juniper berries and accessories needed to turn garden-variety vodka into a custom gin.
New York artist Aymie Switzer’s laser-etched cedar coasters depict neighborhood maps of many major cities, including Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Coasters recycled from old tires are stamped by Los Angeles artists with different graphic number fonts. And Colorado designer David Rasmussen’s black walnut stemware is distinctive and beautiful. All at www.uncommongoods.com.
Whether it’s a swanky gathering or a casual movie night, provide your drinking guests with a variety of interesting treats. Pier 1’s Tasting Party collection includes one-bite ceramic dishes, shot glasses and spoons which can be stored in your home bar. Ebony buffalo-horn condiment spoons and mottled horn bowls from Williams-Sonoma would add flair. (www.pier1.com ; www.williams-sonoma.com)
If you’re setting up a first apartment and don’t have much money, consider giving an old nightstand or tray table new life as a miniature bar. Hit flea markets and junk yards for salvaged tool trolleys, medical supply carts or old microwave stands and spiff them up with paint, paper or other decorative materials like stick-on tiles and mirror. The web has many artful ideas, including at www.curbly.com.