The bar cart is back…again. After the success of Mad Men a decade ago, quarantine has brought back the at home happy hour. Whether you’re celebrating afternoon cocktails with friends via Zoom or enjoying an aperitif with your partner, the time has come for you to learn how to stock a bar cart. The bar cart in our home serves a couple of purposes: a decorative piece and a fully functional bar. Because we entertain a lot, our bar cart is stocked to capacity to keep our parties flowing. I’m a little extra and have every type of liquor available in case if a guest wants a specialty drink at our house. Also, since we’re all stuck at home, I think it’s a pretty good time to try a plethora of cocktails to find a new favorite. Below are my essentials and tips on how to stock a bar cart like a pro.
How to Stock a Bar Cart
First things first, you need the perfect bar cart because without it, then you can’t stock up! Fortunately, there are so many options I’m certain you’ll find the perfect one to suit your interior aesthetic. I prefer two-tiers as opposed to tiers but this is your bar, so pick what works for you. I also prefer my cart to have wheels since a mobile bar cart comes in handy for parties.
Bar Cart Essentials: The Liquor
I like to have at least one bottle of the most popular alcoholic beverages on hand. I generally keep several stored in our credenza since we entertain often. The standard six, as I like to call them, can be served on their own or the base for a mixed cocktail. I’ve included Alan and my favorite brands from the standard six. We got to our favorites by experimenting at restaurants, specialty bars, and our friends’ parties. Luckily for me, my best friend Meri is a scotch and whiskey connoisseur and loves to treat us to tastings whenever the opportunity arises.
Bar Cart Essentials: The Mixers
If you’ve ever visited a larger distributor such as BevMo then you’ve seen the endless rows of mixers. There may be hundreds, but the essentials are what I’ve included here. Sure you can drink Campari on the rocks, but I find that it’s the perfect add-on to a glass of champagne, while ginger beer is great for Moscow mules and mocktails (you have to remember to have options for the designated driver).
Bar Cart Essentials: The Tools
To be a great bartender, you need some basic tools to help you craft speciality cocktails. Most stores such as Crate & Barrel offer a bar kit, which is great starting point. However, the long spoon/mixer and muddler are generally not included so you will need to get those separately. Alan and I also prefer to mix drinks in a tin shaker and glass as opposed to the traditional martini shaker.
Bar Cart Essentials: The Glassware
Finally, you need some stellar glassware. I recommend 6 of each: old-fashioned, highballer, and coupes that double for martinis and champagne. I keep my wine glasses in the cupboard with our dinnerware but I do like to bring them out for parties since they’re easier to access.