6 (Practical!) Must-Haves for Your Bar Cart

If you live in a small space, chances are that you live by the mantra that every piece in your home needs to be functional. There’s no room to buy that gorgeous chair that will just sit alone or that intricate inlay tray that will live in a faraway room only to be gazed upon while entertaining. Nope, every single item needs to be as pretty as it is practical. And there’s no place that’s truer than on a bar cart.

I’ve written before about my feelings on creating “Instagram-worthy” decor vignettes (see coffee tables here!), but today I wanted to chat about bar carts—and how to style a bar cart that looks intentionally chic, but also hits all the functional high notes.


This stunning mid-century inspired bar cart is a bit bigger than I would have liked and it dominated our old apartment’s kitchen, but we certainly haven’t had any trouble filling it up. And, without further ado, here are the 6 practical must-haves that every good bar cart should have.

  1. Alcohol…because, it’s a bar cart: This one should be obvious, but, you’d be surprised. Of course, if you’d rather use your bar cart as a planter or a stand for various gilded items, you do you. But, for those of us who use our bar carts for the intended purpose, I like to keep a variety of bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, and tequila—all the classics. My favorite bottles are those we’ve picked up along our travels.
  2. Pretty decanters: While some liquor bottles are stunning and deserving of a prominent display, others leave something to be desired—or maybe you don’t want anyone realizing that crystal encased clear liquid is Aristocrat, not Grey Goose. Either way, it’s nice to have a few pretty decanters on hand to store your liquor. We registered for several from Crate and Barrel that are gorgeous on our bar cart. Want to find budget-friendly decanters? Check out secondhand or thrift stores.
  3. The accouterments: If you’re into making fancy cocktails, pick up some bitters and shrub to take your drinks to the next level. Two of our favorites are Bittermilk Old Fashioned and Element Honeydew Jalapeno Shrub.
  4. Glassware: Stock your bar cart with the classic silhouettes that will serve as an appropriate home for any cocktail. Double old fashioned glasses, highball glasses, wine glasses, and coupe glasses are those that I keep on hand.
  5. Cocktail tools: Unless you’re an artisanal bartender, I don’t think there’s any reason to get too complicated here. Assuming you at least have a wine opener and a bottle opener, all you need to do is invest in a shaker with a strainer, a stirrer, and a shot glass for measuring. That’s it.
  6. Coasters and cocktail napkins: Of course you’ll also want something to keep your other furniture looking its best (that means no drink rings!), so add a bit of whimsy and color to your bar cart with coasters and cocktail napkins. I love this eccentric coaster set from Kate Spade. I have these cocktail napkins from Minted, though I also love the quirky options from Waiting on Martha.

And, yes, of course, you can add a few trinkets because we all want our space to have some personality. It’s all about creating a space that’s both functional and fun—so splurge on that gorgeous bar cart, fill it with all your goodies, invite some friends over, and get ready for a fabulous time.


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  1. Kate
    July 4, 2019 / 4:09 am

    This is a great guide to creating a good bar. Thanks for the ideas, Heather, I’m inspired. I love the retro ones, they are so expensive to buy but I’ve always got my eye out for a vintage one 🙂

  2. C
    August 17, 2020 / 2:53 am

    Where did you get this bar cart?

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