A cocktail in the garden? Meet the women with their own drinking dens

A cocktail lounge in the garden? How cosmopolitan! Home bars are so last year… so meet the women who have spent lockdown quaffing quarantinis in their own super-luxury drinking dens

Gentleman’s club is fit for a lady

Jennifer Hughes, 33, is a brand sales partner for a hospitality consultancy and lives in Knutsford, Cheshire, with her partner Lee. She says:

With nowhere to go and nothing else to do, we’ve spent the pandemic immersed in DIY to add character to our four-bedroom, 1960s house. The highlight has been transforming the conservatory into a dark and moody cocktail lounge.

It is reminiscent of a gentleman’s club, and instead of flopping on the sofa to binge-watch Netflix, we now chat at our wonderful bar, drinking bourbon old fashioneds.

Working in hospitality, I had lots of ideas, and when lockdown was announced last March we set to work on the conservatory. After painting the white UPVC black and creating wood panelling for the walls, Lee made the bar from scratch using MDF that he painted a dark blue-black, which cost around £500.

Jennifer Hughes, 33, is a brand sales partner for a hospitality consultancy and lives in Knutsford, Cheshire, with her partner Lee

We added suede bar stools and for Christmas I bought him an old school bar pump with a wooden base. The keg of beer is boxed so sits neatly under the wooden bar top. Quirky, gold-framed pictures of animals wearing smoking jackets and cravats add to the members’ club feel, as does the gold monkey ice bucket.

There’s also mood lighting, disco lights, a smoke machine, heating, DJ decks and my beloved piano, as well as a Sonos music system.

And there’s no shortage of booze! We have 50 gins alone.

For my birthday last June, Lee filled the bar with candles and we sat and drank champagne, gazing at the stars through the glass roof. It was magical.

We can’t wait to get friends round to have a lock-in

Lindsay O’Mahony, 47, sings in band Honey Rider and lives in Felden, Hertfordshire, with husband Jon, 49, a music producer and manager, and their sons Max, nine, and Ozzie, seven. They also have a property development business. She says:

Our cocktail lounge has been the only real escape from the drudgery of this winter lockdown. It is housed in the games room of a huge extension that we added when we developed our house from an old bungalow in 2019.

The bar itself is an L-shape, measures three metres wide (10 ft) and is painted deep teal with four grey velvet bar stools.

It sits on the middle of one wall and there is also a pool table, darts, table football and table tennis so that the children can enjoy themselves while we have a cocktail or two.

Lindsay O’Mahony, 47, sings in band Honey Rider and lives in Felden, Hertfordshire, with husband Jon, 49, a music producer and manager, and their sons Max, nine, and Ozzie, seven

I can’t remember a time when we made the decision to have a bar and games room. It was just one of those things that evolved while planning our renovations and suited our lifestyle perfectly. We are very sociable but with young children and busy careers, and relished the opportunity to create a fun and relaxed space in which to entertain family and friends. And thank goodness we did.

Jon made the bar mostly out of kitchen base units and MDF panelling. It has a black granite worktop and splashback and a white Carrera marble countertop. There are mirrored metro tiles on the back wall and two glass shelves housing a large selection of spirits.

It all looks very pretty in the evening when we switch on the fairy lights and the mirrors bounce the light around.

There’s a proper beer pump — I love pulling a pint! — and I bought Jon a cocktail-making kit so he can now rustle up the perfect mojito.

Two sets of French doors overlook the garden on each side, and are framed with luxurious teal velvet curtains which make it feel cosy at night.

Roll on the day we can invite friends for a cheeky lock-in. But in the meantime, our cocktail lounge provides us with a lot of family fun and somewhere to ‘go’ for a change of scene.

Maddie Sidebottom, 40, a stylist, is married to former England cricketer Ryan, 43. They live near Durham and have three children between them, aged 11, ten and nine. She says:

Perched on lime velvet stools at the bar, martini in hand, it’s easy to forget we’ve nowhere else to go.

From afternoon tea with mocktails for the children, to date nights, welcome to Bottoms Up!, as we call our cocktail lounge.

Housed in a gorgeous, cedar-framed garden room measuring 4 m by 4 m (13 ft by 13 ft), it cost £15,000 to build.

It was pricey but we paid for it with savings, including the money we got back after cancelling our honeymoon to Marrakech last spring.

Maddie Sidebottom, 40, a stylist, is married to former England cricketer Ryan, 43. They live near Durham and have three children between them, aged 11, ten and nine

As it became clear lockdown was going to drag on, we reasoned there was no point having the money in the bank when we could use it to create something at our home instead.

It’s luxurious but quirky with underfloor heating, wifi, a TV, mood lighting and full power from the main house.

Being a stylist, I adored designing the interior to incorporate lots of pink — our favourite colour — funky animal wallpaper, a Bottoms Up! neon sign, velvet sofa and two 5 ft gold flamingos.

The charcoal bar and cabinetry were made by a local carpenter and feature a mirrored back, shelving, marble bar top and lighting to illuminate our collection of alcohol that includes 40 different gins.

At our wedding last March, we hired a mixologist and have now had a lot of practice making his secret recipes for pornstar martinis — made with passion fruit, lime and champagne — and my favourite, vodka lychee martinis.

One wall is home to Ryan’s cricket memorabilia and England caps, while bifold doors open on to the garden.

The charcoal bar and cabinetry were made by a local carpenter and feature a mirrored back, shelving, marble bar top and lighting to illuminate our collection of alcohol that includes 40 different gins

On alternate weekends, when we don’t have the children, one of us will say: ‘Let’s go to Bottoms Up! tonight.’

It would have been the perfect place to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. But Ryan is working in India, so I opened a bottle of champagne and said ‘Bottoms Up!’ to him over Zoom.

Lockdown drinkies in a £40,000 luxury ‘shed’ 

Anna Muskett, 48, is the owner and director of a laser clinic and lives near St Albans, Herts, with her fiance, Martin Quirke, 53, who owns a construction company. They have five children between them, aged 16 to 25. She says:

Our little in-joke is to smile at each other and say: ‘Do you fancy going down the pub?’

Of course, we can’t go to the local pub — but we can skip outside to the huge garden room bar that Martin designed and built after we bought our five-bedroom, 1930s house five years ago.

Affectionately known as ‘the shed’, it’s anything but. The huge oak-framed building cost £40,000, measures 11m by 4.5m (36 ft by 14 ft 7 in) and houses Martin’s office at one end, the bar and games room in the middle — including snooker table, sofas, 80 in TV and karaoke machine — and a shower room.

Anna Muskett , 48, is the owner and director of a laser clinic and lives near St Albans, Herts, with her fiance, Martin Quirke, 53, who owns a construction company. They have five children between them, aged 16 to 25

The bar is bijou but beautiful and was inspired by one Martin built for a friend — theirs has a ski lodge vibe.

It’s about 2 m (6 ft 6 in) wide and made from reclaimed wood with floating shelves against an illuminated backdrop so the bottles lined up on them really stand out.

There are wine fridges, an ice machine and a cocktail maker, as well as two velvet bar stools — perfect for date nights. It really is luxurious.

Huge doors open out onto the garden, where there are zoned seating areas for entertaining.

Martin is chief barman but, when we’re allowed, my best friend and her partner love to come over and indulge their flair for making cocktails.

Affectionately known as ‘the shed’, it’s anything but. The huge oak-framed building cost £40,000, measures 11m by 4.5m (36 ft by 14 ft 7 in) and houses Martin’s office at one end and the bar and games room in the middle

My favourite is an espresso martini, while Martin’s a whisky lover.

We’ve livened up many a lockdown Friday or Saturday night by getting dressed up and heading off to our bar.

And if we happen to have one too many, we need only stagger back up the garden to bed!

Our ‘gentleman’s club’ has become a family retreat  

Abigail Jones, 47, co-owns a company selling cashmere scarves (mrsjonesscarves.com), and lives in Hampshire with her husband Hume, 52, who charters superyachts, and their children Evie, 20, Tom, 17, and Ned, 13.

Abigail says: Few people can still enjoy the thrill of saying, ‘shall we go out for cocktails tonight?’ but we’re fortunate that our home cocktail lounge has been a much needed source of fun this past year, especially during the current winter lockdown.

It’s the room everyone gravitates to at the end of the day, where cocktails, mocktails and a family game of cards help us all unwind.

Abigail Jones , 47, co-owns a company selling cashmere scarves (mrsjonesscarves.com), and lives in Hampshire with her husband Hume, 52, who charters superyachts, and their children Evie, 20, Tom, 17, and Ned, 13

When we converted the attached garage of our five-bed, 1680s cottage into a bar four years ago, we could never have imagined that it would one day end up being such a sanity saver.

After builders lined, insulated and plastered the garage, Hume built the bar using MDF, a zinc worktop I found on eBay for £90, and an Ikea worksurface that was £48. Two mirrors attached to the front of the bar cost £180 from Wayfair, the fridges behind the bar were the same, and it’s now all well-stocked with gin, vodka, rum and tequila!

The room is painted in Farrow & Ball Worsted, a dark grey, has underfloor heating, a log burner, large sofas, and a polished concrete floor laid with Indian rugs for a colonial feel.

After builders lined, insulated and plastered the garage, Hume built the bar using MDF, a zinc worktop I found on eBay for £90, and an Ikea worksurface that was £48

Where once we all congregated in the kitchen, the bar has really brought us together during lockdown in the same convivial way.

Although Hume and I enjoy a drink to unwind, it doesn’t always have to be alcoholic. Last night, for example, we had mocktails with the kids, who love getting behind the bar too.

The older ones are brilliant at making me a Moscow mule with vodka, ginger beer and lime, or a rummy ‘dark and stormy’. My youngest has a lot of fun concocting virgin cocktails with various juices, filling the glasses with straws, umbrellas and fruit.

We’re now thinking ahead to Evie’s 21st, two days before lockdown should end in June, and hope to throw a fabulous party in the bar that week to celebrate. 

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