What Is a Wet Bar vs. Dry Bar—and Does Either Belong in Your Home?
What is a wet bar and what is a dry bar? Both are designed to make entertaining at home easy by providing an area to prepare beverages for guests, but the big difference is a wet bar has a sink so glasses can be more easily rinsed.
The difference between a wet bar and dry bar may seem like a simple concept, but there’s more to it than plain old plumbing. Here’s what homeowners will want to know when they consider having these features in their house.
What is a wet bar, and why would you want one?
Wet bars are convenient if you entertain on a different floor than your kitchen, or outdoors. In the 1970s and 1980s, home bars became popular as people outfitted their basements as rec rooms. Who wants to go all the way back upstairs to mix a batch of frozen margaritas? Or to rinse out the pitcher for another batch, for that matter?
Now, as outdoor kitchens become more popular, wet bars are moving alfresco as well. With a little creativity, you can turn your backyard into a miniature resort.
Photo by Pools For Home Design
Wet bar ideas: How to entertain in style
Having a sink in your bar means you’ll not only be able to rinse glasses between mixing drinks, you’ll also be better equipped to handle spills and cleanup.
Photo by Dwelling Designs
As long as you’re going through the trouble, you could optimize that plumbing with a few more add-ons. You could include a prep area for mixing cocktails that either also drains into the sink (to capture spills) or has its own drain. If you’re into beer in a big way, you could install taps with gutters below that capture and direct drips.
That said, a wet bar doesn’t have to be large and elaborate. You can fit one into a tiny nook.
Photo by i4design, LLC
Are wet bars outdated?
Grant Gerhart, a broker with Integrated Realty Group in Laguna Hills, CA, does think that wet bars are less popular today than they were in the past.
“If personal enjoyment is the goal, then it’s worth it,” says Michael Kelczewski, a Realtor® with Brandywine Fine Properties. But he cautions homeowners who want to add this amenity only as an investment, since it could make your home seem dated. For example, we give you Exhibit A below:
Photo by Harold Leidner Landscape Architects
Particularly in open kitchens and living spaces, it’s usually not worth it to install a second sink when the kitchen sink is within easy reach.
“Almost no one is installing a traditional wet bar in their home,” says Los Angeles bar designer and builder Rikki Klein. “Wet bars can be pretty unnecessary and redundant for the modern style of entertaining.”
He says one exception would be a big-budget addition such as a man cave or entertainment room. In that case, a wet bar might fit right in.
Dry bar ideas: Entertaining made easy
If you aren’t sold on installing a wet bar, a dry bar may be a better alternative. You’ll still have a dedicated spot for barware, spirits, and a beverage refrigerator, but without dealing with plumbing. All you need is a short counter and cabinet space.
“The trend is leaning toward a dry bar where favorite liquors and glassware are artfully and conveniently displayed,” says Klein.
Photo by Joshua Lawrence Studios INC
“Most people now are just doing a liquor cabinet,” Gerhart says. “Space is often an issue, and bars take up a lot of it.”
Keep in mind that a dry bar can be multifunctional. For example, you could keep party supplies in a cabinet.
Photo by M. Swabb Decor + Style
Another alternative is simply modifying the back of your kitchen island or a counter with some shelves or rollout drawers for easy access.