How I Decorated My Bar Cart–and How You Should, Too

Last fall, I purchased this bar cart from Wayfair. It was cheap, so I was a little skeptical, but so far it’s been holding up well! I like that the bar cart’s wheels also lock so I don’t have to worry about to rolling around my century-old wooden floors. I’m thrilled to share that 95% of the non-drinkable items on the cart were thrifted–though I can’t take all the credit–my mom was able to score most of the finds.

Top Shelf

On the top shelf, I have barware tools, a set of four (thrifted!) copper mugs, a (thrifed!) mid-century glass vase filled with faux flowers courtesy of the Target dollar section, the Hollywood-themed cocktail recipe book Gone with the Gin, a bottle of Rosé courtesy of Trader Joe’s, SOstraws (of course!), as well as an old (thrifted!) cigar box used to add a little height to the SOstraws and Rosé. In the cigar box contains my extra clothespins–don’t know why–just felt like a good place to keep them.

I highly recommend using a pretty, decorative box (cigar or not) to raise a few pieces of your bar cart to give it dimension.

Bottom Shelf

On the bottom shelf, I have a small cutting board which holds copper shot glasses, an ice bucket holding wine stoppers and extra barware as well, a copper shaker (clearance aisle of TJ Maxx!), a (thrifted!) mid-century decanter that’s empty because I’m too afraid bugs will somehow crawl inside, S. Pellegrino, and various liquors and wines.

How to Decorate Your Own Bar Cart

Start with a Color Scheme

As you can see, the colors on the top shelf are all warm–oranges and pinks. This was on purpose to give the cart a cohesive look. While I’m sure Gone with the Gin is an excellent cocktail book–I’ll be frank–I bought it for its lovely sunset orange color. Hanging on the wall behind the cart to go along with this theme is a framed Society6 poster of peaches, because Georgia, duh.

Having a color theme on your bar cart’s top shelf is important. While it’s impractical to carryout a color theme for multiple shelves–you need something to ground the cart and make it look like furniture with pieces that belong to the room. I have a pink velvet couch and a pale yellow and pink rug, so the choice was easy. With my color theme created on top, I was able to add the small four copper shot glasses and copper shaker on the bottom shelf to tie it all together. This makes the cart look intentional now, regardless of what liquors and wines I buy in the future. It could hold all reds, or all vodkas–any color of liquid–and still look like it belongs on the cart because of the copper pieces on the bottom.

The green S. Pellegrinos, green leaves of the peaches, and green SOstraws was completely unintentional, but I love that there’s a small secondary splash of color theme on the cart as well.

Keep it Practical

You may not be a mixologist, bartender, or any kind of whiz with cocktails, but it is important to have actual barware on your bar cart. While looking for inspiration myself, I saw an awful lot of bar carts that were simply impractical. There are only so many framed quotes a person needs in their life.

Even if you don’t use the cart yourself and it’s for looks, your guests might actually use it. While it may be rare for someone to ask for a cocktail strainer or zester (you never know!), you will likely get asked in the future for a wine or beer bottle opener if you ever host an event involving beverages. It’s also a good idea to have a cutting board on your bar cart. Just last week I held a small poker night at my place, and someone brought their own limes!

Tools Good to Have on Hand:

  • Wine bottle opener
  • Beer bottle opener
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Cutting board
  • Strainer
  • Zester
  • Wine bottle stoppers
  • SOstraws for drinking, of course 😉

What Alcohol to Keep on the Cart:

To suite everyone’s tastes, you should try to have a variety of alcohol on your cart.

  • A light liquor
  • A dark liquor
  • At least two different wines (red, white, or rosé)
  • Champagne (you never know when you need to celebrate!)

What to Keep in the Fridge

  • I recommend keeping drink mixers like canned sparkling waters in the fridge, that way they’re cold for your guests. For me, the S. Pellegrinos are more of backup just in case I don’t have any in the fridge. I try to keep at least two flavors of sparkling water in the fridge just in case a guest is picky about a certain flavor.
  • If you like serving your guests beer or spiked seltzers, keep those in the fridge too, so they stay cold. Keep the liquor and wine on the bar cart.
  • I also like to keep a bottle of lemon juice and lime juice in the fridge.

Don’t Get Attached

Like the seasons, your bar cart will change over time. Just because a certain bottle of $10 Trader Joe’s wine looks really good on your cart doesn’t mean you should keep it there forever. There will be different wine and liquor labels over time, and that’s okay. Drinks are meant to be drank!

Be a Good Host

Lastly, just be a good host. Be polite. Offer a beverage to someone who did not bring their own, even if it’s just water, and for those who did–ask them if they need a glass or any ice for their beverages. Channel your inner Emily Post and put your bar cart to good use.

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