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Hamptons Life

Jan 11, 2010 1:55 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

In-home bars, pub rooms and libation stations

Jan 11, 2010 1:55 PM

Bill and Donna Thiele’s friends never stop by for just one drink, the couple says. With a custom-built fully stocked bar, a wine cellar, big screen plasma television, pool and card tables in their Hampton Bays home, it’s easy to stay for awhile.

My friends call it “The Web,” Mr. Thiele said of his entertainment-friendly home. “You come for one, and stay until 1.”

Mr. Thiele custom designed the maple- and mahogany-blend bar and the rest of his basement to match. The wood-paneled walls of his entertainment center match the bar’s finish. And the pool and card tables were custom upholstered in matching red felt.

The bar and entertainment room are located in the basement of the couple’s ranch-style home, which has glass doors that open out to a patio and the backyard pool. The bar, a tall, rectangular enclosure with a swing door, is surrounded by custom-made bar stools and was designed to look like it came straight from a pub room, with a drink rail, mirrored bar back, beveled wood and glass corner blocks and a martini glass rack in the ceiling.

“I knew what I wanted my bar to look like,” Mr. Thiele said during a recent interview, adding that he’s done his share of research on the matter. “I’ve spent enough time in them, that’s for sure.”

Having a bar in his home has always been a dream, Mr. Thiele said. He added that he and his wife have always loved to entertain and that having a bar is a convenient way to gather friends. And since Ms. Thiele manages musicians and bands, the couple often hosts impromptu performances at their summer parties.

The bar is big enough for one bartender at a time, Mr. Thiele said, explaining that he is typically on drink duty. He created a special concoction of pear-infused vodka that, keeping to his bar theme, was dubbed “spider venom.”

In addition to the large glass dispenser of spider venom on the bar—which looks and tastes like jarred pears in their own juice—Mr. Thiele said he keeps about 150 selections of liquor stocked, including different tequilas he brings back from trips to Mexico.

Ms. Thiele, who her husband said prefers wine, also has an impressive collection, about 400 bottles, in the couple’s wine cellar. Mr. Thiele added that the liquor and wine storage, and the specific rooms he designed to entertain, are costly but worth it.

“I guess if you think about it, we could cut back,” he said. “But we enjoy spending the money entertaining friends.”

Likewise for Bill Sagal of Amagansett, who said that building and maintaining a bar is like any other luxury investment made in a home. “Some people spend money on a boat, we did a bar instead,” said the man who boasts he has one of the best single-malt Scotch collections on the East End.

Mr. Sagal reported that he and his wife bought their house in 1992 and were weekenders for 4 years before adding a second floor and another wing to the home and moving to the East End permanently. He said they built the bar, as well as a movie theatre, wine cellar, library, and pool room at the same time they were renovating the house.

The L-shaped bar, which is backed by three shelves of liquor, was designed by Mr. Sagal, who reported that he used to do set design for Broadway shows. With bar stools lining both sides and enough room for the bartender to walk around behind the bar, it looks like the Sagals lifted their bar right out of a neighborhood pub.

The couple entertains every Friday night, Mr. Sagal said. He added that he and his wife always loved to throw parties, so installing a bar in their home seemed like a natural choice when renovating. “Plus, there’s the convenience of always having what you want, and a seat at the bar,” he joked. “We’ve got a better selection than any restaurant we know of.”

For many, having a bar in their home encourages entertaining more often, explained Leandro and Mariko Pichardo of East Quogue. The couple said they were very happy to find a bar and entertainment room already existing on the second floor of the home they purchased 3 years ago.

“We thought it was kind of odd to have it on the second floor,” Ms. Pichardo said. “But we turned it into a media room. We bought a pool table and it works fine, it’s great for entertaining.”

The Pichardo’s entertainment room has a full service, mahogany bar with a sink, dishwasher, ice cube maker, refrigerator, and wine cooler.

Ms. Pichardo reported that she and her husband entertain about 10 times a summer and that their friends enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

“It doesn’t feel like a pub because it’s kind of elegant,” she said. “It’s not ostentatious. It’s really perfect, I think it gives the home an added dimension.”

Tam Khan, who built his own cedar bar in the pool atrium of his Water Mill home, said he prides himself on being a good host. He said he and his wife, Marian, entertain often during the summer, with parties of 20 to 30 people in attendance, some even coming in from Manhattan to attend.

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Wondering who drives your friends home?
By wondering (63), Southampton on Jan 15, 10 5:16 AM
Bravo! Fabulous!!!
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Jan 16, 10 5:59 PM
I don't know them but i like them already!
By Hambone (514), New York on Jan 19, 10 12:20 AM
Much more elegant than our shebeen in the woods at the back of the pasture.
No pretty glassware or flatscreen... but you can "P" with a view and also win prizes for the Rat Toss.
By Montaukette (46), Waterland on Jan 20, 10 5:03 AM
Very nicely done. Do the friends ever contribute to the inventory?
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Jan 20, 10 1:14 PM
I guess this answers my question...

“Likewise for Bill Sagal of Amagansett, who said that building and maintaining a bar is like any other luxury investment made in a home. “Some people spend money on a boat, we did a bar instead,”

By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Jan 20, 10 1:17 PM
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against drinking but I'd rather have a nice boat than a bar any day.

The expenses are pretty much equal. However, you can have a bar on your boat and catch fish but you can't catch fish from a bar in your basement.

By Bilge Water (131), East Hampton on Jan 20, 10 1:33 PM
good one.
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Jan 20, 10 2:01 PM