I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Hostessing is my Happy Place! Having said that, any experienced Host will admit that you can never have too much preparation or help. That's why I'm in the market for a fabulous Bar Cart.
A well-stocked Bar Cart (or Drinks Trolly) is like a silent butler, dutifully bringing the bar wherever you need it, allowing your guests to help themselves, freeing you up to circulate and keep the party going.
A good bar cart is two parts utility, one-part décor, and an essential piece of party equipment. These days, there are plenty of good-looking carts on the market to suit every style and budget. Whichever style you choose, remember it is a functional piece of furniture. Don’t be tempted to favor form over function!
My friend, Jordan Catapano, half of the Female-fronted mobile Bartending service, This Girl Walks into a Bar, offers the following advice when thinking about buying and setting up your drinks trolly. “Your bar cart should reflect your personality, whether you'd describe yourself as serious, playful, artistic, a bargain-hunter, a brand snob, etc. I love a bar cart that is thematically organized and textured. My favorite bar arrangements have a unifying theme. The same color scheme, unusual bottle designs, Art Deco, or just wine or clear spirits...you get the idea.”
“To really commit to maintaining your bar cart, rotate your collection for special occasions like Valentine's Day, July 4th, Halloween, and all through the Holidays, of course!"
Make sure your cart has room for the basics:
- Ice bucket with a lid (to keep a bottle cold, or to hold ice for drinks) and tongs
- Lowball glasses and at least two bottles, plus mixers
- A crystal decanter is a must on every bar cart (there are so many styles to choose from!) as well as a few mixology tools
- Paper straws (monogrammed is a nice touch).
- Proper cocktail napkins
- Wheels that work (and also lock)! You can always use a media console or small table as a bar, but a true drinks trolly should be portable.
How to Stock Your Cart:
Clear The Lot
If you want to do this right (and trust us, you do), then you’re going to have to start by clearing off the entire cart and wiping it down with a natural cleaner that won’t leave any residue. If your cart is wood, you probably want to go for an All-Purpose cleaner. If your cart is metal, then use a leather cleaner (or glass cleaner for a mirror finish).
When it comes to stocking alcohol for your bar cart, this is one area you can afford to be a little aspirational. There's no need to spend hundreds per bottle on celebrity alcohol (which we've found isn't usually that great anyways), get a decent bottle of Gin, Vodka, Whiskey, and Tequila, and then use a funnel to easily decant them! I love these personalized nickel liquor tags to identify your bottles.
You’ll Need a Measuring Tool
To pour drinks like a pro, you'll need a measuring cup to dose your liquors, cordials, and mixers. While some might opt for a double jigger, we quite like the look of this ceramic measuring cup. We made this ceramic cup for measuring our laundry soap—but it also happens to be the perfect size for dosing out gin for the perfect martini. You'll wonder how you ever lived without one.
Use Organizing Helpers
You’re also going to need something to keep your bottle openers, stirring spoons, muddlers, and zesters together. The skinny profile of this chic vanity tray means it fits neatly inside on even the tiniest bar cart. Use a larger tray to hold garnishes, and this minimalist soapstone jar is a chic way to hold straws or bar tools, and I love this vintage pedestal bowl to hold cocktail napkins without eating up too much real estate on your cart.