What better way to show off your cocktail ingredients and accessories than with a bar cart? Bar carts are excellent pieces of furniture, but they can be a little intimidating to stock and style. But don't fret; we've got you covered.
We have all the bar cart ideas to help you keep a stylish and functional one in your home. Whether you've already purchased one or are still deciding, we have the complete guide to choosing, outfitting, and styling your bar cart.
Types of Bar Carts
If you haven't yet chosen your cart, know that several styles and colors are available, just like with any piece of furniture. With a simple search online, you'll have hundreds of thousands of options at your disposal, which can undoubtedly feel overwhelming.
Here are some common types that may help narrow your search:
Black Bar Cart
A black bar cart is a classic look. They're most typically made of metal, but many also include wooden panels or trays. You might find glass panes, too.
If you're unfamiliar with bar carts, searching for a black bar cart is an excellent place to start because you can get a feel for available options that can naturally align with any home's décor.
Rattan Bar Cart
Rattan is an umbrella term for different species of climbing palms, and it's used to make a variety of an item, bar carts being one of them. You'll find that these bar carts look great in three-season rooms and at beach houses, but they can also fit a space with retro decor.
Bamboo Bar Cart
In appearance, a bamboo bar cart is quite similar to a rattan bar cart. Because of its light wood and natural stain, it has a very laid-back feel. The deciding factor between a bamboo and rattan bar cart will likely be your preference, as they are very similar in look and price.
Metal Bar Cart
Metal bar carts have become especially popular in the last couple of years, as they offer a sleek, modern look. Because metal is more pliable than wood, there are far more shapes and designs, making it easier to find a unique option.
You can also find them in various colors, and they're perfect for indoor-outdoor use. Metal bar carts are easy to clean and look fabulous no matter where you house them.
Best Bar Cart Alternatives
If you don't have a bar cart, and buying one isn't an option, you can still get the look without using an actual cart.
Here are some alternatives you might already have at your house that you could easily convert:
- Console table: Because of its height and length, a console table is an excellent alternative to a bar cart, especially with a second shelf underneath. They're also often placed in convenient spots where you might naturally place goodies and tools typically reserved for bar carts.
- Desk: A desk is another great alternative to a bar cart because of its shape and height. Of course, not every desk will work, but a modern rectangular one will work splendidly, and it'll likely have drawers where you can store some of the essential items that you don't want to display. Extra storage for your bartender kit? Yes, please!
- Credenza: A credenza is perfect for a makeshift bar cart because of its storage and placement in your home. You can store just about every mixer and glass type in a credenza. You may even want to use it more than a traditional bar cart!
- Side table: You can always use a side table, too. Remember, side tables do not have to be placed beside a couch or chair. Instead, you can use a side table for any of your whims, like a bar cart substitute.
Where to Place Your Bar Cart Inside Your Home
Once you've purchased your bar cart, it's time to decide where to put it, and we've got some ideas for placement.
Remember that you want to place your cart anywhere where you might make a drink and in high-traffic areas. Having a bar cart is all about convenience.
The Living Room
Keeping a bar cart in your living room is incredibly convenient. It's a place where you often entertain, making it desirable to have functional furniture. A living room bar cart will become an automatic place to gather and is a stylish piece to keep in one of your most frequented rooms.
The Dining Room
If you have a dining room, it's another excellent place to keep your bar cart. No matter how often you utilize the space, a bar cart makes it easy to stay with your loved ones while refreshing your drink.
Three Season Room or Enclosed Patio
If you gather a lot in your three-season room, enclosed patio, or similar space, you'll want to keep a bar cart there. If you don't often gather in this room, perhaps stationing a bar cart there will encourage you to use the unique space more often! Any place with plenty of seating and a lovely view is perfect for a bar cart. After all, it's the piece of furniture holding all the goodies needed for a good time.
Stocking Your Bar Cart
Now that you've placed your cart, it's time to stock it, but where do you begin? But don't worry, we've got you covered!
Here are the must-have essentials for stocking up your bar cart:
You, of course, need everything required to make a drink, and that includes glasses. Choose your glasses according to whatever cocktail you create most often. If your go-to drink is a martini, use martini glasses (make sure you stock vermouth). If you prefer an Old Fashioned, use rocks glasses. If you make a variety of drinks, standard tumblers or Collins glasses may suffice. Having wine glasses at the ready may also be a good idea.
Spirits & Mixers
You'll also need to keep an inventory of all your favorite spirits and mixers to make all your go-to libations. If whatever you most commonly drink can stay outside the refrigerator, keep it on your bar cart. You may want to find some matching containers for a more cohesive look, but if not, feel free to keep everything in its original packaging.
Keep a variety of mixology tools: shakers, jiggers, muddlers, tongs, and anything else you need to craft the perfect cocktail. If you're unsure which mixology tools you need to build a cohesive bartender toolkit, check out our comprehensive bar cart guide!
If you have a big enough bar cart, and you and your guests enjoy trying different types of cocktails, you may find it helpful to keep a recipe book on your cart. Even if you aren't going to read it, a recipe book can make for a fun look and add some dimension to your decorative styling.
You can stack glasses or mixers on top of the books, or any other mixology tools, making it attractive and functional.
How to Style Your Bar Cart
One of the most challenging parts of having a bar cart is knowing how to style it—but it can also be the most exciting! This moment is where you can let your personality shine. Instead of just looking at photos on the internet, tap into your inner interior designer and amplify your personal taste.
But keep in mind, you should also style your bar cart according to functionality. You want it to lend itself to its best use, and use that makes sense for you, and there are plenty of ways to make it look good while also making it work for you as a bartender.
Here are a few tips to consider:
Pick a Theme
First, pick a theme. Tie it into the types of drinks you want to serve and the room's general decor. Doing so will help you choose different items to display other than your cocktail essentials, and it can offer cohesion throughout your space.
Arrange Essential Items
Arrange your items according to how you are going to use them. Don't haphazardly place glasses and let them stay wherever they end up. Put them in a place that's easy to grab and has minimal chance of getting knocked over, along with any other glass containers.
You can add other cute items later but start by arranging your essentials first to ensure the critical functionality factor.
Place Additional Items
Once you've arranged all of your essentials, you can add other items that you don't necessarily need but want to have. Doing this could involve some of your extraneous mixologist items or recipe books. It could even be some funky glasses or straws that don't get used that often but add a dynamic look.
Just make sure that they add to the functionality and look. Everything should have a purpose.
Add Some Flair
Finally, add some flair. Recall the theme you chose and add some decor and fun smaller items that make your bar cart stand out. Themed decor could be a cute dish towel or cocktail napkins. Or it could even be a fun piece of artwork or another crafty item that boosts your overall theme.
There are endless bar cart ideas to make yours work and look good. Don't be afraid to get creative! Our final recommendation? Make sure to stock up on your favorite Mixly mixers so you can always have fresh, delicious cocktails at the ready.