If becoming a wine club member is a sign of maturity, then outfitting your own bar cart is that next step away from the Natty Ices and kamikaze shots of your younger years. It turns out that millennials have developed a palate for mixed drinks other than Red Bull vodkas – and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to mix up fancy artisanal cocktails in the comfort of our own homes.
Creating a bar cart is a practical way to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients for that late night Manhattan craving. It also doubles as a great space for flaunting your favorite coffee table books, and can act as a self-serve beverage station – ideal for entertaining guests. Here, we’ve rounded up a few tips and some inspirational photos for creating a bar cart of your own.
Find Your Perfect Bar Cart
Any sort of side table with 2-3 rows of shelving can be transformed into a bar cart, but furniture with wheels gives you the full vintage trolley effect. Scour flea markets for antique pieces you can spruce up with a coat of paint and new hardware. You can also install your own add on’s (a wine rack beneath the top shelf) to transform a regular table into a bar space.
If you’re not 100% into the DIY idea, retailers like Target have bar cart options for about $100 – while higher-end mirrored, iron and brass versions are available at homeware outlets like CB2, West Elm and marketplaces like Etsy.
Get the Gear
You’ll want all the proper tools: a good cocktail shaker, a jigger or measuring beaker and a quality bottle opener (as in one that you didn’t get for free at the liquor store). Tools often come in sets that you can find at outlets like Williams-Sonoma, and might include strainers, muddlers, martini stirrers and tongs.
Beautify your cart by adding decorative accents like cocktail napkins, patterned (or crazy) straws and bowls and vases for flowers or citrus fruit. If you’re entertaining, set out small serving bowls for bar snacks complete with cocktail picks. Two ice buckets – one for chilling bottles and one for ice – are also key to have on hand.
Wait until Pay Day to make your initial trip to the liquor store, because stocking a bar cart with the essentials isn’t cheap. You can create a base for most drinks with a bottle of vodka, tequila, white rum, gin, or bourbon – but stick with your favorites. You might have the urge to go crazy at the checkout counter, but you don’t want to buy $40 worth of Bombay Sapphire just because you like the way the blue bottle looks. Focus on your preferences and put the rest of your budget towards mixers like vermouth, Cointreau, or bitters to create the potential for beyond-basic cocktails.
If you are planning to entertain – garnishes like lemon, lime or olives offer a nice touch for guests. Small bottles of tonic and club soda are also easy to find and come in handy when you least expect it.
Between magazines, cocktail books, smart phone apps and Pinterest, there is pretty much an endless supply of inspiration for finding new cocktail recipes that you can easily create at home. Experiment with different variations of your favorite standbys, and make a date with yourself to test new concoctions before inviting friends over for a drink.
If all of this sounds like too much work, take a night off and open the bottle of wine that was just delivered to your doorstep.