Everything You Need to Know About Stocking a Bar Cart

Hint: It’s easier than you think.

If you love testing out the latest cocktails, whether they’re absinthe-spiked or yuzu-infused, chances are you’ve considered investing in a bar cart. This classic piece of décor is the ideal marriage of form and function: a handy spot to display your favorite bottles and, once the holiday entertaining season kicks off, a stylish way to signal to guests that your bar is open. We asked mixology guru Jim Meehan for his tips for assembling a top-notch kit. Here's what we learned:


Shop smart.

Photo by mooreandgiles.com

In a pinch, an ordinary side table can function as a bar “cart,” but the real deal should have wheels so it can be rolled it into the heart of the party when your guests arrive. If you’re ready to invest in one, be sure to consider storage capacity. Some carts are just a simple table on wheels; others, like Meehan’s own super-luxe version, feature compartments for bottles and glassware.


Pare down.

Repeat after me: your bar cart is not meant to replace your home bar. The essential supplies—your library of liquors, mixers, gadgets, and glasses—should have their own permanent home; the cart should be a party-ready, pared-down, clutter-free satellite version.


Stay seasonal.

The first step in prepping your cart is picking two or three drinks you’d like to serve from it. Simple, seasonal cocktails are ideal. Think: a warming holiday punch in the winter, or refreshing highballs (just two ingredients!) in the summer.


Make a menu.

As your party approaches, this will become the blueprint for stocking your cart. Assemble only what you need to make your chosen cocktails, plus an ice bucket. And remember: tools and glasses shouldn’t live out in the open where they’ll get dusty and dirty.


Be prepared.

Finally, when you’re not using your cart, keep the surface cleared, so it’s easy to restock if guests drop in unexpectedly. Looking too bare? A vase of blooming flowers is all it takes to dress it up.