Many of us have these beautiful bar carts but have no clue what needs to be on them. (I use mine as booze storage … if you’ve ever seen my place, you know that’s a necessary evil.) I was having a chat with my friend who owns Talking Out of Turn and she said a Bar Cart 1010 would be a helpful post … ask and you shall receive!
- Keep it classy. All due respect … this is not the place for your koozies and your favorite bottle opener from college.
- Keel it simple. Don’t crowd your bar cart!
- Let the booze do the talking. Many bottles are pretty enough to be art … show them off!
The cart itself makes a bold statement. My brass and mirrored cart is from West Elm (and matches some other furniture), but you can find many different styles to reflect your home or the kind of drinks you make. Here are some suggestions for different …
For the drinker who wants to be just like Susie: Terrace Bar Cart (West Elm, $399)
For the Romantic: Champagne Cart (World Market, $199) | Kiven round Bar Cart (Wayfair, $145)
For the Lucite Lover: Atka Bar Cart (Wayfair, $214)
For the Bourbon Lover: Wood & Gold Bar Cart (Target, $150)
For the Bachelor: all black Hoskin Bar Cart (Wayfair, $215) | Dram Bar Cart (Burrow, $295)
For the Tiki Fanatic: Opalhouse Rattan Bar Cart (Target, $150) | Darcy Bar Table (Williams-Sonoma, $595)
There’s not much more stunning than a nice set of glassware. Having a stack of rocks glasses I think is the classiest look on a bar car, and I think these Talking Out of Turn rocks glasses ($20, set of 4) really make an impact. This set of four glasses offers four different gold prints—I like the grid the best as it reminds me of some of the glasses my grandmother had on her bar cart.
If you’re allowing your guests to make their own cocktails, make sure to have a variety of glassware handy so your guests can make anything from shots to martinis.
Choose a color and invest. I have multiple sets for my cocktail pictures, but you should choose a finish and lean in. I prefer tools by Barfly; their tools are well made, well weighted, and reasonably priced. Cocktail tools are NOT the place to buy cheap; you want tools that will be reliable. The last thing you want is for your cheap shaker to bust open when you start shaking a cocktail. (Aunt Sue still hasn’t forgiven me for the incident last Thanksgiving involving a whiskey sour with egg white.)
Basic cocktail tools I suggest you have on-hand: jigger (measuring cup), shaker, stirring glass, stirring spoon, strainer, and muddler.
Barfly sells their tools on their website or on Amazon.
I picked out these adorable canvas coasters from Talking Out of Turn ($12, set of four). I’ve just about had it with glass coasters that get stuck to the glass and then fall off. I’ve decided that fabric is the way to go. They’re easier to store and actually do their job!
Your bar cart shouldn’t look like a bookshelf, but a well placed book (or stack) is not only convenient, but necessary. And many books look stunning enough to be considered art. My go-tos this season have been:
– Drinking with Chickens by Kate Richards ($20): This book, y’all … is greatness. Kate actually drinks with her chickens and takes pictures of it. Look for hilarity and high balls from this book.
– Beautiful Booze by Natalie Migliarini & James Stevenson (~$20): Another well named cocktail book … this one really is beautiful. My friends Natalie and James are beyond talented and this book is proof. The pictures are stunning and the cocktails are all well-balanced and unique.
– Very Merry Cocktails by Jessica Strand ($17.21): this lovely holiday cocktail book has plenty of merry mixes to keep our holiday spirits high
– Texas Cocktails by Nico Martini ($16): This Lone Star State cocktail guide happens to be written by another friend of mine! Look for classic Texas cocktail recipes and signature cocktails from your favorite bars across the great state complete with the stories behind them and lovely photography.
INGREDIENTS – Booze, Bitters, & Modifiers
While you’ll never have EVERYTHING you need (there will always be a recipe that calls for some obscure liqueur from Norway or a bar spoon of Malört), you can have a basic stock of the following to make quite a few classics:
Basic liquors: whiskey, gin, tequila, rum, vodka (there are many different varieties of each, but these are the basics)
Modifiers: sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, orange liqueur (Cointreau), elderflower liqueur (St-Germain)
Aperitifs/Digestifs: Campari, Averna, Montenegro
Bitters (the salt and pepper of bartending): Angostura, Peychaud’s, orange bitters
Sugars/syrups: simple syrup, demerara (unbleached sugar), sugar cubes
Citrus juices: lemon, lime
Mixers: soda water, tonic, ginger beer
Garnish: Luxardo cherries, whole citrus (for the rind), dried fruits (these last longer and are edible!)
The space on a bar car is obviously limited, so if you run out of room, you can use something like this metallic wine total from Talking Out of Turn ($18) to hang a bottle on the side. (This also makes a great hostess gift with a bottle of wine or a unique amaro.)
Some extra items to have handy:
- Cocktail picks & swizzle sticks: for your garnish
- Bottle opener
- Wine bottle opener
- Hand towel: it’s just good sense
- Ice bucket: make sure to get good ice!
- Ice mold: I love my custom gold ice press from Bevratech! It makes a perfect sphere every time, and it’s a great party trick!(presses start at $199)
- Vegetable peeler: these allow you to peel a citrus garnish
- Knife and cutting board
- Cocktail napkins: it’s right there in the name …
Again, these are the BASIC ITEMS that will allow you to make quite a few cocktails. If y’all love this and want a Bar Cart 201, let me know!