In Los Angeles, bars are getting big. High-end real estate agents are frequently seeing hulking cocktail bars large enough for bellying up.
“They are more common than before and often take up one whole side of the room,” says Jeff Hyland, president of high-end brokerage Hilton & Hyland. “One of our agents has a listing for $26 million right now where the owner installed a huge outdoor kitchen/bar half the length of the pool.”
Some brokers in New York are also noticing an uptick. “It’s more of a newer phenomenon and growing as [luxury] apartment sizes are growing,” says Noble Black, a Douglas Elliman broker. (Overall, apartment sizes are actually shrinking in Manhattan.) Bars are not generally a feature of the new super-tall towers (Extell’s One57 doesn’t have them, nor does 432 Park Ave or 15 Central Park West.). But the $60 million, 7,400-square-foot penthouses and a $13.9 million, 3,000-square-foot duplex at the new Baccarat Residences, a luxury tower on West 53rd Street, both feature wet bars in the middle of the living room.
Some Manhattan owners are adding them on their own. Black sold an apartment last year to a buyer who asked his designer to add a bar right in front of the window, where it would have a Central Park view. Another of Black’s client turned the laundry room in a downtown penthouse into a bar, which was modeled on the lobby of the St. Regis in Bal Harbour, Fla., with stainless steel, mirror, and white marble. But they don’t seem to be as popular in townhomes, where buyers tend to prefer wine cellars or refrigerators, says Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens, who has logged $1.1 billion worth of townhome sales.
In Miami, where space is more abundant, large bars have long been popular. “In our high-end homes they’ll definitely have some kind of bar,” says Jill Eber, one half of power duo The Jills of Coldwell Banker. Bars are frequently accompanied by a pool table and a large TV. A $19.8 million, 8,500-square-foot waterfront home on Indian Creek Island that Eber has listed features what looks like an elegant sports bar, albeit on a smaller scale: cowhide seats, a marble-topped bar, and a large-screen television. Two of her condominium listings, at 1500 Ocean Drive in Miami Beach ($6.5 million) and another at 7111 Fisher Island Drive on Fisher Island ($14 million), have bars in the living rooms.
In Brentwood, Los Angeles, a 12,700-square-foot home at 543 Crestline Drive features not one but two bars. The lower-level bar is equipped with couches, as well as a large glass window that doubles as a media screen. It is listed for $14.995 million with luxury brokerage The Agency. The Beverly Hills home of rocker Slash, the former lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses, and his wife Perla features a bar in the family room. The home is listed for $10.995 million with Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker Previews International.
At Hacienda de La Paz, a Rolling Hills, Calif., home built by shrimp tycoon John Z. Blazevich with five below-ground floors, a copper bar is built around a window that was once a façade of a pharmacy in a castle in Spain. The surrounding game room features a dart board, billiard table, and two flat-screen TVs.
“I think what this is about is this whole social aspect of these homes,” says Michael Collins, an L.A. broker with Coldwell Banker Previews International, who says he has seen more large bars in the last five to seven years. “These bars become catering areas. They tend to have huge screens mounted to them. It’s almost like replicating the corner bar.”
Film producer-turned-speculative-homebuilder Nile Niami has gone far beyond the basic bar, creating a home that he recently sold, according to sources, that features multiple snack/cappuccino stations scattered throughout. Niami is also the developer famed for a mega-mansion he is building on speculation (without a committed buyer) that is expected to be priced at $500 million. That price tag would be the highest ever asked for a single residential listing in the U.S.
“People still don’t drink like they did in the old days of Hollywood but it’s a lifestyle statement,” Hyland says. “They might use the bar to prepare their juice smoothies or enjoy other non-alcoholic concoctions.”