Stocking up a cabinet full of liquor is a great space saver, but for the aspiring mixologist, showing off their supply is important. This is where the retro bar cart comes in. Bar carts were popularized in the 1950s after prohibition. They were originally styled after tea carts which were a common household staple when tea was all that was on the menu.
We’ve all seen classy bar carts in TV shows like Mad Men. These carts are full to the brim with high-end liquors, mixers, and beautiful glassware. The good news is, you don’t have to be an obscenely rich advertising mogul to have one in your home these days.
Once you’ve purchased your dream cart, it’s time to fill it up with bar cart essentials. No, this doesn’t mean buying up as many cheap liquor bottles as you can get your hands on. Those days are behind you, you own a bar cart now and are on your way to being a mixologist. The fully stocked bar cart should have cocktail tools, liquor, and high-quality mixers to make your life easier.
Let’s look at how to stock up a bar cart like a professional with bar tools, mixers, and any other essentials you need.
Bar Cart Tools
To start, you’ll want to be equipped with an arsenal of quality bar tools. Every mixologist has a preference for their bar tools, and here’s a list of bar car essentials to get started.
This one is a no-brainer. Have you ever seen a cocktail bartender without a cocktail shaker behind the bar? If you’ve never used one before, it will make your life easier and less messy. Cocktail shakers are great for chilling your cocktail by shaking it with ice or using it as a mixing glass to stir. Having one, or a few cocktail shakers on your bar cart is very important for proper bartending.
The muddler is a bar cart essential typically forgotten about. Yes, you can use a spoon, bottom of a glass, or your fist to get some anger out but a muddler will class up your cocktail-making experience. It’ll make your summer Mojito experience a breeze.
When you’re mixing cocktails with muddled ingredients, using a strainer will help to remove the pulp. Not only that, but a strainer will make pouring drinks a breeze with less room for making a mess.
In college, you probably threw some vodka into a cup with a splash of soda and called it a day. Now that you’re making real cocktails, a jigger is a bar cart essential every aspiring mixologist should have. Jiggers will have two sides for measuring out the perfect amount of liquor for your cocktail or mocktail.
The spoons in your kitchen drawer will suffice in a pinch, but to make a killer cocktail, you’re going to need a cocktail spoon on your bar cart. Mixing glasses and shakers are tall, and the last thing you want is your finger dipping into that delicious cocktail you just made for your guest.
A citrus press is used to juice fruits like lemons or limes to add to your drinks. While some cocktail mixers come already pre-mixed with fresh juice, when making your own, a citrus press will make having a refreshing drink a breeze.
You’ll need somewhere to slice up those garnishes. Keeping a cutting board on your bar cart will ensure that it’s only used for fruit and doesn’t risk cross-contamination with other foods.
Having a knife on hand will be helpful for cocktail garnishes. When you make a cocktail with Mixly’s Cucumber Mint Lime Mixer you’ll want a fresh slice of lime to accompany it, of course. Make sure it stays sharp for cutting the perfect lime wedges.
You can’t have a bar cart without liquor to booze up your drinks! The number of choices on the market can be overwhelming if you’re still learning your way around the liquor aisle. A good rule of thumb is to keep 5 spirits on your bar cart for variety. Let’s go over the top liquors for bar cart essentials.
Vodka is a clear distilled liquor that should be a staple on your bar cart. It’s used in many cocktails, such as bloody marys and screwdrivers. You also can’t go wrong with a simple vodka and soda with freshly cut lime. Vodka pairs well with a lot of cocktails because of its simple, clear, and refreshing flavor.
Gin is not everyone’s go-to when it comes to cocktails. This doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a home on your bar cart. Keeping a bottle of London dry gin on your cart will keep martini lovers happy and up your bartending credentials. Gin is a great mixer since it has a light botanical flavor and is not overpowering.
Rum can get confusing because there are several varieties. A good bar cart should have one light rum and a dark spiced rum. Light rums are perfect for mojitos, and dark rums are great for tropical drinks or simple rum and cola.
Whiskey is another bar cart essential. There are so many types of whiskey, you can easily rack up quite the collection. Try to keep a budget whiskey on your cart for easy party cocktails, and something higher end for special occasions.
Don’t let memories of shooting bad tequila at a college bar deter you from adding it to your bar cart. Tequila is also essential for margaritas, and pairs well with Mixly’s Grapefruit Jalapeno Mixer. If you aren’t a big tequila drinker and only have it for guests, keeping a bottle of silver tequila around should do the trick. If you want to up your bar cart game, grab a bottle of reposado, too.
If you’ve ever observed a bartender making a cocktail, you’re probably familiar with the little mysterious bottle they grab to add to your drink. That little bottle is full of cocktail bitters, which are spirits infused with herbs and spices to flavor your favorite drinks. Typically, ingredients include orange peel, cassia bark, cinchona bark, and gentian root.
Martini fans know that dry vermouth is a bar cart essential that cannot be skipped. Keeping a bottle of this on hand will keep your cart looking sophisticated.
Simple syrup is, well, simple. It’s melted down sugar used to sweeten cocktails since regular sugar won’t melt in alcohol or cold beverages.
Sparkling Water/Soda Water
Sparkling water is the perfect addition to make a cocktail a mocktail when you aren’t feeling boozy. Keeping non-alcoholic options on your bar cart is a great way to keep everything inclusive for all your guests.
To finish off your bar cart essentials, try Mixly for a well-rounded selection of easy-to-make delicious cocktails. The Top Seller Bundle comes with Cucumber Mint Lime, Grapefruit Jalapeno, and Pineapple Basil Lime mixers. Each of our best sellers is made with all-natural high-quality ingredients, fresh-squeezed juices, and honey to give you that fresh from the bartender’s hand taste.
Mixly’s Grapefruit Jalapeno mixer is for margarita lovers. This citrus-forward mix is paired with jalapeno for just the right amount of kick. We recommend adding tequila or vodka for a refreshing boozy drink. Or, add your favorite soda water for an NA option. All you need to do is add ice to a glass, your favorite liquor, and Mixly’s Jalapeno Grapefruit for the perfect drink. To impress your guests, try adding a salted rim or a freshly sliced lime wedge for garnish.
You can’t go wrong with adding cucumber, mint, and lime to a cocktail. That’s why we created this refreshing mixer combination. This Mixly concoction is a fabulous bar cart essential. Chop up some fresh lime garnishes, add this mixer to a glass with some vodka, gin, or sparkling water and you have the perfect patio cocktail.
Sometimes the point of a cocktail is to create an escape. Ideally, the escape is to somewhere tropical. Mixly’s Pineapple Basil Lime mixer will transport you to paradise with just one sip. It pairs well with rum or vodka, which you should have on your freshly stocked bar cart!
To sum it up, creating a list of bar cart essentials can be overwhelming. Everyone will have different preferences, but sticking to this list should get you in a good place. Your bar cart will be sure to impress your guests. You’ll also feel classy pouring yourself a cocktail or mocktail from a fully stocked bar cart on a cozy night in.