Bar Connoisseur

  • Wide shot of a small outdoor kitchen setup
  • The BBQGuys design team is used to curious projects fit into interesting spaces. A great example is this bar design, courtesy of a residential complex looking to step up their recreational comforts. While the premises already featured swim-up poolside bars with limited functionality, the owners had bigger things in mind for their latest expansion — pairing their new in-ground pool with a fully-featured outdoor bar. For keeping hands free as needed, an intimate hot tub setting bolstered the natural counter of the pool lip. Meanwhile, concrete pillars (not pictured) near the bar would keep whichever partier was bartending at the time near the action at all times.

    “In most bar builds, the client generally wants bar-height seating at an actual counter. That wasn’t the case here,” explains outdoor kitchen design manager Erin Hopson. “Their idea here was to take the poolside bar out of the actual pool and let it really shine. At first there were some challenges with that, as you might expect with power near water.” Such hurdles involved working with contractors to meet local building codes around the pool environment. “It was one of our more exciting builds. We don’t always get that kind of wall space to convert into a backyard bar. Ultimately, they were pretty happy with the results!” Judging by photos sent in from the first community party thrown after the installation finished, we’re inclined to agree.

  • Spacious Sinks Make Faster Drinks

    Chlorine water makes a great no-tolerance policy on bodily germs, but who likes their limes handwashed in chemicals? “We settled on a farmhouse sink paired with a pre-rinse faucet,” Erin recalls. “That ample counter space meant plenty of room to put in one of the biggest basins on the market. And with that overhead swing faucet, you get all the range you need to dominate that kind of sink bowl with water — or the perfect weapon for a poolside water fight!”

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  • Don’t Give Refrigerators the Cold Shoulder

    For storing freshly cut fruit and other prepped ingredients, sliding in an undercounter outdoor-rated refrigerator was a no-brainer. “Some of our clients try to get by without one, but it’s hard to have the full experience that way,” Erin notes. “Even if you’re not planning on storing extra beverages in there, where else do you want to store those bright red cherries and fresh cheeses? Back inside? Blasphemy.” The owners later noted the refrigerator was a great call — it saw widespread use from party to party.

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  • Twice the Beverage Center, Twice the Fun

    Perfectly designed for cans or bottles, no bar anywhere is complete without one — or in this case, two. Erin saw a need to double up on this undercounter mainstay. “The clients were settled on ‘one’ at first, but we asked: ‘Does that second sink really matter? Or would you rather residents not bicker over precious beer space?’ That certainly got them thinking.” Ultimately, the owners sided with her design experience. It wasn’t long before both beverage centers enjoyed a rapid rotation of cool drinks.

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  • Store More With Doors and Drawers

    For a communal setting, any poolside bar or outdoor kitchen is a serious perk. That is, until frequent users start staking claims on limited undercounter space. “Do I even need to talk about this one?” Erin laughs. “Good luck finding me someone who will turn down extra places to put their stuff — especially in a party space that changes hands this often. After we plugged in all those compartments to keep things chilly, you’d better believe we filled every leftover inch with outdoor kitchen doors and drawers!”

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  • Ice Bins That Won’t Cut Corners

    Sometimes, keeping ice accessible in a bar can present unforeseen difficulties. Not here! Counter-mounting the ice bin meant easy access and, more crucially, easy refilling. As usual, Erin was all too happy to discuss her thinking here. “This is where having all that counter space was a boon. Right angles can be difficult to maximize in kitchens, and we haven’t figured out how to make corners bigger on the inside. But a corner ice bin? Now we’re talking!”

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  • Kegerators Keep the Party Handled

    Sometimes, nothing says “party on” like fresh draft beer straight from the tap. “The owners couldn’t settle on a single cask of beer. Imagine their joy when we told them they didn’t have to!” Erin remembers fondly. “We got them hooked up with an outdoor-rated, dual-tap kegerator. That way, whoever’s throwing the party bring in their own half-barrels of draft beer — or go with the house’s choice, already set up through one tap. Who doesn’t love options?”

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