Updated April 2022
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Buying guide for Best bar cabinets

Whether you are a seasoned entertainer who throws regular get-togethers or someone who enjoys a quiet cocktail at the end of the workday, a bar cabinet should be on your wishlist. These cabinets are not only fashionable, but they also feature an all-in-one solution to the problem of having to access multiple kitchen cabinets, countertops, and utensil drawers every time you want to whip up your favorite cocktail.

Bar cabinets are unique pieces of furniture that come in a wide variety of configurations that you’ll need to be aware of so you can select the right one for your needs.

bar cabinets
While not standard, some of these cabinets lock, something to consider if you have children.

Key considerations

Full bar vs. wine cabinet

Bar cabinets generally come in one of two primary designs: a full bar cabinet or a dedicated wine cabinet. Most full bar cabinets include a wine rack in addition to a variety of shelves and/or drawers to store various liquors, bar sets, and other items you need on hand to create a variety of cocktails. A wine cabinet usually features a much larger wine rack, with less space dedicated to other types of drink-related necessities.


Bar cabinets typically range from 30 to 50 inches tall and 20 to 40 inches wide. If you do a fair amount of entertaining, you might prefer a bar cabinet on the larger side.

Before selecting a bar cabinet, you should have an idea of what size will work in your available space. Measure the room where you plan to put it, then note the size of any bar cabinet you’re considering to avoid overcrowding the room.


Most bar cabinets arrive requiring some assembly, which can range from a fairly simple 20-minute task to something that takes more time and often an extra pair of hands. Even then, drilled holes that don’t line up or poorly labeled parts can make for a challenging project.

Before you try to put your bar cabinet together, examine all the parts and hardware to verify that you have everything you need. Carefully read through the instructions so you understand the complete process. Check that you have all the necessary tools (these are often included), and consider enlisting the help of a friend.

While these bar cabinets typically don’t include lighting, you can easily add your own LED or fairy lights for a unique and elegant decorative touch.




While you can find the occasional bar cabinet made of metal, wood is the material of choice here, along with glass in the cabinet doors and shelves. While wood like pine is cheaper, it won’t be as durable as hardwood. Something like stained oak is both attractive and long-lasting, it’s also expensive. Wood composites are less expensive than hardwood and sturdier than pine.


Bar cabinets range from rustic to modern, with finishes that vary from white paint to dark stain. When choosing a bar cabinet, take a look at your existing room décor and decide whether you want the cabinet to stand out or blend in.


Wine rack: A wine rack is standard in bar cabinets and typically holds 10 to 32 or more bottles. When selecting a bar cabinet, check to see what size bottles the wine rack is designed to hold. Also note whether the wine rack is built into the cabinet or is removable. A removable rack gives you greater flexibility when setting up your bar.

Glass storage: Many bar cabinets include grooved holders to hold between 5 and 18 glasses upside down.

Shelves and drawers: A bar cabinet should offer a variety of storage options. Shelves are typically made of glass or wood. Note the number of shelves (often two), and whether they’re adjustable, which can provide you with greater flexibility in terms of setting up your cabinet. Drawers are for those items that you don’t necessarily need to display, such as bottle openers and coasters.

Doors: Some bar cabinets are open, but most have hinged doors that you can close. Doors range from wood to rattan to glass. The latter allows you to easily eyeball the contents of your cabinet.

Hardware: Hinges, handles, and other hardware should be rugged enough to last for years. Some, such as nickel-plated handles or pewter drawer pulls add an attractive accent to the cabinet.

bar cabinets
Early bar cabinets, known as cellarettes, were popular in America in the 18th and 19th centuries.


Inexpensive: Bar cabinets in the $125 to $160 range tend to be smaller and simpler. These have fewer storage options, including a smaller wine rack that’s typically capable of holding fewer than 10 bottles. Pine is common in this price range.

Mid-range: Bar cabinets that cost $160 to $200 are more durable and may be more ornate than lower-priced cabinets. They’re often larger, with more storage and a wine rack that can hold up to 20 bottles. Wood composite is fairly common in this range.

Expensive: If you are searching for elegance and durability in a bar cabinet, the $200 to $350 and up range is for you. These cabinets include the largest options you can find, often with a wine rack that can hold more than 20 bottles. Hardwood, glass, and metal are the primary materials in this price range.

One stylish and functional decorative element you can add to the top of a bar cabinet is an assortment of cocktail recipe books.



  • Store alcohol correctly. Wine bottles should be stored on their side, but you should always store liquor like whisky upright, particularly if it has a cork. Constant interaction between high-proof liquor and the cork can cause the alcohol to degrade over time.
  • Try a bar cart. If you like to entertain in different rooms, consider getting a bar cart. These mobile bars are fitted with wheels, so you can easily move the party from the living room to the patio.
  • Check the components as soon as you receive your bar cabinet. When you first get your cabinet, carefully examine each piece for any damage so you can order a replacement right away if necessary. Some cabinets have a strong manufacturing odor at first. Remove all the pieces from the packaging and let them air out for several days before putting the cabinet together.
  • Try a corner cabinet. If space is at a premium, consider a bar cabinet that is designed to fit in a corner.
  • Upgrade the knobs and pulls. One simple way to upgrade a less expensive bar cabinet is to replace the doorknobs, hinges, and pulls with fancier hardware.
  • Check the weight limit. If you plan to put any weight on the top of your bar cabinet, such as a fish tank or sculpture, check the weight limit with the seller or manufacturer.
bar cabinets
Assemble your bar cabinet in the room where it will reside. Some of these cabinets can weigh 100 pounds empty, so you don’t want to have to move it too far.


Q. What’s the best place for a bar cabinet?
The simplest answer is whatever room works for you, but there are some caveats. Space is always going to be a consideration, because a bar cabinet crammed into a room that doesn’t have the space for it will be in the way and may not be used much. Your best option is to place the bar cabinet in the room where you do most of your entertaining. That way, you won’t need to leave the room every time you pour or mix a drink.

Q. What should I stock in my bar cabinet?
While this largely depends on the size of the cabinet and your own taste in beverages, for entertaining, you’ll probably want to stock your cabinet with a variety of liquors, glassware, and other items so you can mix a range of cocktails. In addition to wine, consider storing vodka, gin, whisky, and tequila in your cabinet. Flavored liqueurs and specialty liquors such as vermouth and Cointreau can also increase your mixology range. Stock a variety of glass types, such as wine, martini, and rocks, in addition to a decent bar set to pull everything together. Mini cans of fruit juices, lemons, limes, and garnishes like olives can be stored in your refrigerator and moved to the bar as needed.

Q. Can I mix drinks on the top of my cabinet?
While the flat top of a bar cabinet does look like a handy work station, it generally isn’t designed to withstand spills and other bartending mishaps. Bar cabinet tops are more often used to hold everything from photos and knick-knacks to specialty bottles. That said, placing something like a marble or wooden cutting board on top of the cabinet should provide it with enough protection for you to safely use it to create cocktail magic.

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