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Home is where the bar is

On the prowl for home bars, barware

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The home bar is a place where you can drink in peace, inexpensively, and in various stages of undress without those curious stares from strangers. Sure, your home bar could comprise a stack of Kwik Shop 64-ounce plastic cups and a half-gallon jug that says “Hy Vee Orange Juice” containing vodka and blue Kool-Aid, but we suggest you take some time and pride in your home bar; thus, we’ve done the footwork …

With high hopes, our first stop was Rector’s Antiques and Wardrobe on Sixth Avenue. We found a few items that could work for a home bar including a red light-up Budweiser sign for $89 and a couple of vintage metal drink shakers from $15 to $19. Our best find was a glass decanter with a sail boat etched on the side — an ideal liquor holder for a Northwesterner. We didn’t, however, find a home bar, though one may be buried under all the other antiques. We thought about asking the clerk, but she was too busy yammering on her cell phone.

We had some luck on Tacoma’s Antique Row along Broadway in downtown. Shepherd’s had a very nice six-piece Farberware set with glasses and a tray for just over $60 and a deco decanter set for $42. The shop also had an interesting liquid pump dispenser for $46. At the neighboring Lick’s Antique Mall, the store is more than cluttered, but some promising essential items for a home bar like vintage glasses and beer steins can be found on the second floor. 

We hit the jackpot at the Now and Then Shop on North Pearl in Ruston. We were excited to find several unusual cocktail shakers including one with a rooster top at $75 and two shaped like a ship’s lantern — one in red and one in green — for $145 each. Shop clerk Helen Ley explained the shades of the shakers are the actual colors used in real ship’s lanterns.

These shakers weren’t the only bar items we found. The antique shop specializing in vintage objects from the 1930s ad 1940s actually has a whole room full. We were like a fat kid in a candy store — gazing at all the shiny objects and imagining all the delicious liquor they could hold.

Many of the items are by Chase. “He’s quite the designer,” Ley says. A silver Chase decanter set with six shot glasses and a tray will cost you $265. Objects from another high-quality brand Kensington are also plentiful at Now and Then including polished aluminum glassware and ice buckets.

A majority of the stuff, however, is reasonably priced. We were a big fan of a $55 gold portable bar tray that included six glasses, one shot glass, an ice bucket with tongs, and three liquor holders that specify what should be put in each — Bourbon, Gin and Scotch.

A majority of the bar items at Now and Then were Ley’s brother’s, W. Paul Wilmoth. He’s the former owner of the store who passed away a year ago. His widow, Tina Wilmoth and Ley run the shop near Point Defiance Park. 

Now that we found an antique store that has most of the bar items one would need, it was off to find an actual home bar. After several stops, we were getting concerned. However, Ley’s advice paid off. We found one at Hamilton’s, an antique mall hidden behind Tower Bowling Lanes on Sixth Avenue. We weren’t jumping for joy though — the problem? The bar is massive. It’s a two-piece Bavarian wooden bar with images of a quaint German village on the sides. Plus the price is pretty hefty at $1,295.   

If you’re a German fella with pockets full of money, you’d be all set. If not, you may have to settle for getting one online. Luckily, many of the sites have free shipping and handling, such as or Prices range tremendously from $500 to well into the thousands. 

Something is still missing though — what about a neon sign or two? A must-have for a home bar area. Besides Rector’s, none of the stores we hit had any. We did find a nifty metal Miller Light sign at Lick’s for only $24. Our advice for neon sign lovers is to cave and go to the mall. Spencer’s has a wide assortment, and they are reasonably priced. Plug those bad boys in, and then hit the liquor store, invite some friends over and get your drink on.

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