The perfect bar cart is all about combining form and function. Whether you’re styling a bar cart for your next holiday party, or creating an everyday bar cart for your home, there are a few essentials that you’ll need to keep in mind.
That’s why we put together these essential bar cart ideas and tips to help you get started! We’ve styled two types of bar carts: a party one for entertaining, and a basic one for everyday use. We’ve created visuals plus a handy guide that feature helpful tips to help walk you through the most important elements of each type of bar cart so that you can be prepared to style a bar cart that’s perfect for any occasion!
How to style a party bar cart
A well-stocked (and styled!) bar cart is essential for easy entertaining, especially during the holidays! With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to start creating a bar car of your own — especially one that’s nice enough to show off to your party guests! That’s why we’ve styled a bar cart that’s perfect for entertaining, and we’ve included a few tips along the way to help you get started!
- Create a self-serve drink station
Here’s a holiday entertaining tip from the pros: Keep things stress-free by having your guests prepare their own cocktails. The last thing a host wants to do is spend the entire evening shaking individual drinks for each guest. By creating a self-serve drink station, you can hand this job off to your guests who will have fun crafting their own custom drinks! Check out our sparkling cocktail recipe for an easy and festive drink your guests to mix up.
For a New Year’s Eve party, be sure to keep champagne bottles cold by submerging them in a decorative ice bucket. Remember, your bar cart will experience lots of traffic during the party, so be sure that you have plenty of extra bottles on hand which can be stored on the bottom shelf of your bar cart.
- Keep the bar fully stocked
Remember, your bar cart will be a popular destination throughout the party. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure that your bar is fully stocked. Keep plenty of straws and napkins on hand.
For self-serve cocktails, make sure to arrange your cocktail ingredients and accessories by laying them out on the top shelf. Provide plenty of breathing room and make each item accessible. For our Sparkling Raspberry cocktail a small bowl of raspberries, a shallow sugar dish for dipping, a bottle of elderflower liqueur for sweetness, and of course sparkling wine is pretty much all your guests need to craft their own delicious drink!
- Decorate with fresh florals
No party bar cart is complete without fresh florals. Keep things simple by sticking to one or two types of flowers arranged into simple bouquets. We paired stargazer lilies along with white hydrangeas to match our pink and gold color palette perfectly.
When putting together your floral arrangements, keep in mind that you’ll want the top shelf to have plenty of room. Opt for a taller vase to free up valuable tabletop space. For the bottom shelf, a shorter arrangement placed on the opposite end balances out the entire look.
- Stick with a defined color palette
Make your bar cart stand out with a defined color palette. Stick with one to three colors that will really make your bar cart the star of the party. Our pink and gold themed bar cart is perfect for a New Year’s party.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match similar textures. Good design is all about coordinating, not striving to match everything exactly. To create this look, we combined glittery gold and rose gold decorative banners, gold accessories such as champagne glasses and straws, and a copper ice bucket with our gold bar cart. By mixing similar yet distinct metallic hues together, it keeps things interesting without drowning the bar cart in just one color.
- Stock extra bottles
Chances are, your bar cart will be responsible for getting the party started. So make sure that you have plenty of drinks on hand to keep the party rolling. Use the bottom shelf to stock extra bottles. Feel free to provide alternative options as well such as wine, different liquor options such as whiskey and vodka, along with bitters and vermouth.
To help you get the party started, we crafted this sparkling raspberry cocktail recipe. An easy-to-make refreshing sparkling cocktail flavored with fresh berries and a hint of sweet elderflower that will be sure to liven up your party.
Sparkling Raspberry and Elderflower Cocktail
Champagne or sparkling wine
Gold sugar for rim
- Take a lemon slice and rub around the rim of the glass. Sprinkle gold sugar onto a shallow dish, and dip rim into the sugar.
- Muddle 3-4 raspberries at the bottom of the glass.
- Add a splash of elderflower liqueur.
- Top with champagne or sparkling wine.
How to style a basic bar cart
So what do you do with your bar cart after the party is over? In this section, we offer a few tips on how to style a basic bar cart for your home.
An everyday, basic bar cart may not have all the glam and pizzazz as one that’s decorated for a party — but it should still sparkle with basic bar cart essentials that reflect your own personal style. No matter what you choose to accessorize your bar cart with, there are a few things to consider to make it a decorative yet functional staple in your home.
- Style the top and bottom shelves
Stock the top shelf of your bar cart with your go-to drink essentials. Are you a wine gal or a whiskey connoisseur? Keep your everyday necessities here for easy access. Now’s the time to show off that fancy decanter that’s been collecting dust in your closet and make it a focal piece.
Pair it with the appropriate glasses, whether that’s wine tumblers or heavy bottom whiskey glasses, along with your favorite mixers or bitters so that you can easily craft your favorite drink after a long day at work.
The bottom shelf of your bar cart should not be underestimated. This is where you’d typically store extras such as additional glasses, liquor bottles, and accessories. When not in use, you can also use this space to store your cocktail mixing accessories such as a shakers, muddlers, and ice bucket. When it comes to choosing bitters and mixers, choose bottles that have vintage-inspired labels for a classy touch.
- Don’t be afraid to include fresh ingredients
A bowl of fresh fruit will make any bar cart pop with vibrant color. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes are great to have on hand due to their versatility in many types of drinks. Plus, because they can stay fresh for so long, you won’t need to constantly worry about replacing the fruit. Keep a vegetable peeler handy to infuse an old fashioned with fragrant orange peel, or to brighten up a vodka soda with a refreshing lemon peel.
If you’re entertaining guests, a great way to kick things up a notch is to provide fresh mint leaves. Simply take a bunch of mint sprigs and submerge in a small vase or glass with water to keep it fresh all night long.
- Show off your collection of glassware
Not only is the bottom shelf meant for storage, it can also be the stage for your glassware collection. Here’s the chance to show off your fanciest glasses! Combine different types of glasses by arranging the tallest ones in the back and shortest in the front. A sweet little succulent plant introduces some fresh color amongst the glass and is the perfect choice for bar cart decor because they’re so easy to maintain.
- Arrange a simple bouquet
Fresh florals are essential for home decor, so why not incorporate a simple arrangement into your bar cart decor? For a basic bar cart, create an arrangement using a single type of flower to keep things fresh and minimal. Here we use lush hydrangeas that are simple yet eye-catching and dramatic. A tall vase frees up table top space and allows for plenty of room to pour yourself a drink.
- Accessorize with bar cart essentials
Every bar cart needs the bare essentials. These include a cocktail shaker along with an accompanying strainer, as well as a wine and bottle opener. A cocktail spoon is great for stirring up drinks and can also double as a muddler. Trendy elements such as these geometric marble coasters complete the collection of bar cart essentials.
The perfect bar cart is all about style and function. Whether you’re putting together a bar cart for a festive New Year’s party or a basic one to have as a staple in your home, a bar cart is essential for holiday entertaining.
No matter the occasion, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to styling a bar cart. Remember to keep go-to items on the top shelf and use the bottom shelf for any additional items. When entertaining, make things easier on yourself by providing an interactive experience by having your guests serve their own drinks. And of course, no bar cart is complete without a fresh bouquet of flowers.
How To Style Your Bar Cart: A Quick Guide
To help you put together the ultimate bar cart for your next party, we created a quick guide that includes essential tips for bar cart styling. We also added a list of suggested items and materials that will make your bar cart the star of the party! Check out the guide below to get the party started!