By Shani Silver

Published on August 24, 2015

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

I’ve always been fascinated by bottles. Vintage glass, delicate bottles of perfume on my grandmother’s vanity, and liquor bottles too. Shapes and colors reflected in mirrors in restaurants, and labels with gorgeous script adding importance and authority to the spirit within. Where bottles like these once seemed illicit and the stuff of grown-ups, as an adult I’m able to use the shapes, colors, and labels I love to style my bar space at home.

Typically only used when entertaining guests, my home bar is more likely to see a Swiffer duster (every. single. week.) than the inside a cocktail shaker, but I find myself re-styling and arranging my bar so often that I decided to dive a little deeper into this aesthetic wonder. Here, we’ve styled one bar three ways, and we’ll show you how certain bottle and accessory groupings can create a mood to suit what you love most about the bottle–from the outside.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

First, we focused on the classics. This is perhaps the only time in this story that the booze actually played a role in bottle selection. Inevitably, when compiling a home bar that’s fit to entertain a variety of guests, the spirits will run the gamut, ensuring each visitor can pick his favorite poison. In doing so, we found bottles with classic, substantial, posture, almost making the bar feel heavy. (Which we balanced out with our favorite bar tools and a bit of fresh flora). The trick here was pleasing the crowd, while finding bottles of varying heights and shapes that together create a home bar dream team.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

bottles:  Don Julio ReposadoBulleit BourbonTalisker Single Malt Scotch WhiskeyHendrick’s GinCampariFee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters .

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK
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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK
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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

Our next vignette took us in a completely different direction. Often before styling a story or image, we’ll use a specific inspiration to build a visual plan. I have always been a huge fan of film decor and when devising this photo I instantly thought of Demi Moore’s character’s apartment in St. Elmo’s Fire .

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

While Jules wasn’t able to live her decor dreams for long, she really went all-in with powerful expressions of femininity. We wanted bottle shapes, fonts, and glass that felt beautiful and elevated, and maybe a bit delicate as well. Personal touches and precious glassware added to the personification of a woman here. You can almost see her standing next to her bar at the end of a long, successful day.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

bottles:  St. GermainLillet RoseSt. George Spiced Pear LiqueurSt. George Botanivore GinWatershed Distillery BourbonChandon Brut Classic  
tray:  CB2

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK
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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK
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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

And finally, I combined two personal fascinations, liquor bottles and fonts/labels. Product packaging seems to be approached with such care at the moment, and thankfully that care extends to the home bar. Even with flowing, delicate script that might to some seem hard to read, it’s the labels of these bottles that truly catch the eye.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

Almost before you care what sort of spirit is inside, each of the labels shown here suggests to you that you’re going to like it. Intricate labels like these will look best when placed in front of a bold or dark wall color, as they’re less likely to get lost in the background. Simplifying bartop accessories here helped keep focus pointed centrally, where guests are sure to have a visually appealing read pre-pour.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

bottles:  Espolon ReposadoRansom Old Tom GinAylesbury Duck VodkaLagavulin 12 Year Old Single Malt ScotchBasil Hayden’s Bourbon

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK