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Bar-trending 101: A roundup of home bars and cooling cocktails

CUE toasts Tales of the Cocktail 2014


Photo by Eugenia Uhl and Sara Essex Bradley
  • Photo by Eugenia Uhl and Sara Essex Bradley

Miranda Lake

According to the sales tag on artist Miranda Lake's bar, the 1920s piece was made by the Coca-Cola Company for the Jena Street Social Club. A former Dick & Jenny's bartender who collects vintage furnishings and lives on Jena Street, Lake was smitten.

  The piece measures four feet across, is made of decoratively painted wood, has a laminate top and contains storage cabinets below. Lake's collection of pressed glassware inherited from her grandmother and various mixers are housed inside. A complementary accessory from the 1920s hangs above the bar: an art deco, glass and metal chandelier found in a local Craftsman bungalow. Collectibles include a vintage bar guide and a glass wine decanter Lake's parents bought in Vienna during the 1960s. Two bar stools inherited from Dick & Jenny's provide seating and a third stool behind the bar is one of Lake's favorite perches.

  Lake's recipe is a nod to a New Orleans favorite: the classic Sazerac.

Classic Sazerac with a twist

• 1 dash simple syrup
• 1.5 oz. rye or American whiskey
• 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
• Dash of angostura bitters
• Dash of Herbsaint (can substitute Pernod or Ricard)
• Twist of lemon peel

Coat an old fashioned glass with Herbsaint, discard extra. In a cocktail shaker add the rye, simple syrup, the two bitters, ice and stir. Strain the rye mixture into the glass. Twist and squeeze a lemon peel over the glass. Rub the rim of the glass with the peel, discarding it when finished. Add two ice cubes (optional).

  • Photo by Eugenia Uhl and Sara Essex Bradley

Sarah Louise & Scott Ham

Sarah Louise and Scott Ham's bar is more than a place to wet your whistle. Located by the den, it's a gathering spot for family and friends. "A night does not go by without occupants at this bar," Sarah Louise says. Even the children head straight for the Gatorade in the bar's Thermador refrigerator after a game at Metairie Park Country Day School.

  When the Hams built their Old Metairie home three years ago, they wanted to create a defined space that complemented the den and had easy access to the pool. They designed the alcove around an antique stained glass window Sarah Louise found during one of her sons' baseball team road trips. They framed the bar with a rustic stone arch (in keeping with the home's French country architecture) and included a wine cooler, refrigerator, ice maker, dishwasher, television, granite sink, music system and an island for dining and wine tastings.   

  Dark, honed granite counters and light cabinets of reclaimed wood provide contrast. Illuminated glass front cabinets and colorful stemware accent the window's luminous stained glass. Velvet bar stools from Restoration Hardware line the edge island.

  "We can have a golf game on in the bar while a [New Orleans] Saints game is on in the den so everyone is happy," Scott says. "This bar is always open."

  With a garden full of mint, Sarah Louise likes to make "skinny mojitos."

Skinny Mojito

Handful fresh spearmint leaves
• 1 packet stevia
• 2 oz. white rum
• ½ fresh lime
• Crushed ice
• 4 oz. lime-flavored La Croix water
• Sprig of mint for garnish

Using a mortar and pestle, muddle a handful of fresh spearmint leaves with one packet of stevia.

Pour in 2 oz. white rum, swish, then transfer liquid into a glass.

Add juice of ½ fresh lime, crushed ice and 4 oz. lime-flavored La Croix.

Garnish with a lime wedge and sprig of mint.

  • Photo by Eugenia Uhl and Sara Essex Bradley

Vikki Leftwich & Bryan Colwell

We wanted outdoor rooftop furniture that would withstand the heat and rain and still look hip and cool," says Villa Vici owner Vikki Leftwich of the pieces she and husband Bryan Colwell chose for the rooftop above Villa Vici. The couple looked for a bar that would emulate the European trend of bars made out of ice. They found one that looks like ice but is made of utilitarian, weather-friendly polymer.

   "It's an ice cube that doesn't melt," Leftwich says. Made in three modular pieces, the bar is easily moveable, has removable glass shelves and can be illuminated.

  "Style and functionality are always paramount," Leftwich says. "Let's bring the inside out and outside in."


1 bottle Brut Rose
• 6 oz. gin
• 8 oz. lemonade
• sugar
• blueberries
• strawberries
• 1 orange
• 1 lemon

Mix rose, gin and lemonade with 1 oz. sugar (add more sugar to taste if desired). Dip rim of chilled glass in sugar to coat, add ice to glass. Pour liquid mixture over ice. Garnish with fresh berries and citrus wedges.

  • Photo by Eugenia Uhl and Sara Essex Bradley

Eugenia Uhl & David Rebeck

The vintage bar in Eugenia Uhl and David Rebeck's Bywater living room has a past as colorful as its palette of apple green and red. The bar, which came from a 1960s ranch house now owned by Uhl's cousin, was one of two in the house. "The owner had a speakeasy," Uhl says.

  The bar still is in its original condition. It's upholstered with red and green vinyl, has a Formica top, a button-tufted front and a foot rail lined with linoleum squares, plus a working sink and shelves. Above the bar, Uhl and Rebeck combine vintage items and art: a mirrored shelving unit, clock, portrait of Uhl's mother from the 1950s and works by Steve Martin, Matt James and Jimmy Descant.

  "I like it because it gives us a place to set up drinks when we entertain," Uhl says. "People like to hang out there, especially on Mardi Gras morning. We have a bloody mary party every Mardi Gras morning starting at 9 a.m." Uhl and Rebeck designed their own cocktail, a "pearragon" fizz using fresh herbs and pear vodka.

Pearragon fizz

Ice cubes
• 1/2 oz. pear vodka
• 3/4 oz. tarragon simple syrup
• 1/2 oz. lemon juice
• 1/4-1/2 cup club soda
• Fresh tarragon for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka, simple syrup and lemon juice. Shake, then strain into a glass of ice. Top off with club soda. Garnish with tarragon leaves.

Tarragon simple syrup:

Heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in small sauce pan until boiling. Turn off heat. Add one cup tarragon leaves. Let steep covered for 20 minutes. Strain before using.

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