How to Build the Perfect Bar Cart

As you are probably aware from my own home, I’m a massive fan of the bar cart.  Okay, so we don’t generally have lots of wild parties at our (old) age.  However, when we do have guests, it certainly provides a talking point and when we don’t, it’s a great place to display my vintage glass collection. And on those occasions (like most Saturday nights if I’m honest), when we do enjoy a tipple (or three), we definitely get use from it. And seriously, who cares about all the practical reasons, because they LOOK GREAT.

However, I’ve found I can’t just pile all my stuff on it and expect it to look the part. No, there are a few elements to start with to make sure your bar cart is not just practical (come on, it’s not a necessity but we can call it practical, right?), but also stylish.

So I thought I’d put together a little buying guide along with some tips to creating a great looking bar cart.

Now, there are just countless examples out there for bar carts done right (see my Pinterest board, Beyond the Bar Cart for loads and loads of inspiration) so obviously there is no ‘best’ way and you will no doubt want to put your own unique spin on things.

However there are a few elements that seem to crop up again and again…

1.  The Bar Cart:  Let’s start with the bar cart itself. I chose this gorgeous tray table from Alison at Home as the start of my stylish bar cart, not only for it’s stunning lines (check out those legs!!) but also for it’s practicality (the tray is removable) and it’s price (just £125 right now on sale!). Bargain.

2.  The Alcohol:  Now of course, you’ll want to add a few gorgeous bottles of alcohol. Yes, sometimes I choose alcohol for my bar cart simply for the aesthetics (don’t judge me) but you simply can’t go wrong with the icy turquoise bottle of Bombay Saphhire Gin, the quirky two handled bottle of Kraken Black Rum (which as a spiced rum lover, is a favourite of mine) and I’ve always coveted the gorgeous glass skull of Crystal Head Vodka.

4.  The Quirky Item:  The Crystal Head Vodka is actually doing double duty on my buying guide by providing something a little quirky and fun to your cart.  I think it’s always nice to have something a little off kilter in every vignette to show off your personality and add some humour or whimsy.

5.  The Tray:  A pretty tray to corral your items is a must. I chose this one from Zara Home for my buying guide because I love the feminine colours but there are so many trays out there to choose from. Utilising something that really ties the look together in terms of your colour scheme is a great idea but a simple rattan or wood tray will add some texture and a gleaming lacquer tray will add sophistication so really, the sky is the limit.

6.  The Book:  While books on a bar cart are optional, I just had to include this rather lovely Little Book of Cocktails which I recently bought a friend and wanted to keep myself! The cover feels like moleskin and is definitely meant to be shown off.

7.  The Decanter:  A crystal decanter, like this one from Debenhams, is a great way to show off your refined tastes, dahhhling. This one is only £35 but you can find similar ones on eBay or your vintage shops if you are looking for a bargain.

8.  Vintage Glassware:  I’ve included these fabulous (new) gold glasses from West Elm (sadly not yet on the UK site) but do keep an eye out for vintage glassware from the 50s-70s from your local thrift shop or eBay.  You’ll find a lot of great sets out there for not a lot of money which is how I’ve managed to collect so many of them myself!

9.  The Cocktail Shaker:   I have a rather fabulous brass cocktail shaker that I love so I’ve included this pretty one as well which is very similar in look to my own. Obviously the silver ones are available everywhere but as a lover of all things gilded, I think the brass ones make your bar cart a little extra special!

10.  The Flowers:  Oh my goodness, don’t forget the flowers! Nearly every bar cart out there has some kind of plant life on it. Don’t neglect yours and fill up a vase with some pretty blooms. Or, if you don’t want to worry about watering them, this lovely faux set from Bloomingdale’s should easily fool your friends (especially if they’ve already hit the cocktails).

11.  The Art:  A little bar cart art action just adds a little bit of whimsy. I really love this gold foil print from Etsy. Indeed, why should happy hour only last an hour? Who decided that anyway? Pfft. Spoil sport.

12.  The Non-Alcoholic Drinks:  And finally, let’s not forget our friends the designated drivers! Don’t make them drink flat boring Coke all night, give them something to sip in style like these beautiful fruit drinks from Belvoir.  A few pretty stripey straws and they’ll be ready to party without any need for alcohol.

So those are my necessities for a perfect bar cart. What are yours?

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