There is something about a bar cart that confidently proclaims "I am the host with the most, ready to entertain at the drop of a hat. Martha Stewart who?" Or maybe that’s just what we think they say. We believe it has something to do with the fact that a bar cart is literally a party on wheels. But a bar cart is also one of the few pieces of furniture that requires thoughtful planning and upkeep. Wondering where to begin? We'll get you started.
Bar carts are so popular at the moment you’ll be hard pressed to scroll through Instagram or Pinterest without stumbling on one. The typical bar cart features two or three shelves with a railing around each shelf to prevent your beautiful (and occasionally expensive) bottles and glasses from crashing to their doom. A bar cart does not have to have wheels, but this is certainly a nice feature if you’re tight on space and want to be able to roll out your cart for entertaining and tuck it away when it’s not in use. Find a permanent parking spot out of direct sunlight to help keep your liquor from degrading.
Your bar cart does not need to be expensive. Thanks to their popularity, several options can be found online for less than $100. We recommend checking out thrift and antique stores to find a piece with a bit of personality.
When stocking your bar cart, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by options and cost. Most of us have neither the space nor the budget to outfit a cart like a post-Prohibition cocktail lounge, so start small. Choose one or two signature drinks you love and gather all the ingredients to make them. As your bartending expertise grows, so can your cart offerings.
Purchase liquor somewhere between rotgut and top-shelf. You want it to be palatable, but if you’re planning to make several drinks over the course of one evening, you also want to keep your liquor stock affordable.
Don’t forget your mixers. Club soda, simple syrups, fresh citrus juice and bitters can be used for several different cocktails and mocktails. Elevate your drinks with garnishes like herbs, fruits and vegetables. Keep dishes of salt and sugar for the rims of your glasses.
This is another area where starting small will work in your favor. You don't necessarily need a full array of bar tools. Instead, learn what tools are needed to make your signature drinks, and start with those.
If you want to make a martini like James Bond -- shaken, not stirred -- you'll need a Boston shaker. But if you prefer an Old Fashioned, opt for a large mixing glass and a bar spoon. Some bar tools might already be in your kitchen, like a citrus press and a paring knife.
An Empty Space
The last thing you’ll need for your cart is the easiest to overlook: space! Remember your bar cart is supposed to be about function, not just fashion. Don't crowd it with plants and objets d'art. Keep enough space cleared on your cart to mix and serve those drinks we’ve been talking about.