I’ve recently been working on upcycling an old television cabinet into a trendy and stylish drinks cabinet. Drinks cabinets have a chequered, interesting history in the world of furniture – if any a piece of furniture could talk to tell a tale!
Drinks cabinets are synonymous with 1970’s and 80’s middle class England where, following the advent of cheap foreign holidays, couples liked to host dinner party and cocktail evenings, giving them the perfect opportunity of showing off the exotic and colourful alcoholic finds from their travels to Benidorm and beyond. Multicoloured liqueurs, novelty glasses, cocktail shakers and wonderfully kitsch drinks paraphernalia were displayed, often against an illuminated backdrop. I’m getting visions of television classics, Abigail’s Party or Only Fools and Horses.
Drinks cabinets, or Cellarettes as they were actually called, date far further back than the 1970’s, first appearing in Europe during the fifteenth century and then in America in the eighteenth century. Crude by any modern day standard, cellarettes were wooden box style cabinets which were used to secure alcohol from theft, as the bottles were hidden and the cabinet locked.
They started becoming more elegant and functional around the time of the American Revolution and Civil Wars, when they were used by Army officers and came with decanters, glasses and drinking goblets.
Their use continued into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, taking on a whole new interestingly useful role during the Prohibition years, 1920 to 1933, in the USA. Cellarettes were designed to look like ordinary items of household furniture, such as a bookcase or table, in order to conceal illegal alcohol.
These days drinks cabinets are making a huge comeback, assisted in part with the recent resurgence of all things gin. Having a beautiful and functional cabinet to showcase your extensive selection of flavoured gins and tonics, with a place to store those special glasses, citrus fruit chopping boards and mixing implements, has become a must-have for modern living. They come in such a varied array of styles, designs, shapes and sizes. It seems the only thing restricting the design of these incredibly useful items of furniture is our own imaginations.
I’d like to thank Michael from @my_little_rental for the use of his photo of his own drinks cabinet, which really caught my eye on Instagram.