The Bar Cart – an essential to home entertaining, has become an effective driver for our current drinking habits. Everyone is “building up” their home bar with the three-martini lunch era in mind. It’s really becoming the home wine cellar of the 80’s and 90’s. I’ve seen friends curate back vintages of Campari and Fernet and rare bottles of bourbon to fill their shelves, and I’ve even been invited to home whiskey tastings where everyone brings a bottle from their home bar.
The bar cart has been in play for quite some time, being first introduced for tea service in the late 1800’s, and then being brought into it’s current boozy existence in the 50’s. Since then it has become a fashionable staple in homes across the country.
I’ve curated bar carts both for home use as well as for restaurants, and there really isn’t much of a difference between the essential tools needed. If you want a true bar cart experience, I suggest investing in a larger bodied cart with three levels. The larger size will accommodate any cocktailing accessories as well as the glassware needed. It will become a one-stop shop for drinking.
To begin, a cart with wheels is unnecessary for a home bar, unless you plan on moving it around often, and as far as the material of the cart (glass, wood etc.) that is more dependent on your personal aesthetic. What does matter is the number and size of the shelving on the cart because that can limit your cocktailing options.
As I mentioned, three levels on the cart is ideal. The first tier of the cart is for mixing drinks.
- glass mixing jar
- bar spoon
- strainer: a Hawthorne strainer will be the most useful, but you could also add a julep strainer as well
- jigger: a Leopold or Japanese style jigger is both efficient and aesthetically pleasing
- citrus peeler
- ice bucket
- garnish: citrus/olives/luxardo cherries
- Mixers: simple syrup, soda,
The second tier is for glassware. I’d suggest keeping several different styles ranging from a classic Old Fashioned glass, martini coups, brandy snifters and if you’re really feeling classy, throw a few Nick & Nora glasses on there. While, I always look for carts with this second level, it is not always necessary as you can grab a glass easily from the kitchen.
The bottom level is for your booze and should have the largest overhead space on the cart. I like to have an array of spirits on the cart at all times. While you won’t need to have all premium spirits, I would suggest splurging on the bottles you prefer to drink neat or on the rocks:
- Blended and/or Single Malt Scotch
- Reposado or Anejo Tequila
- a white rum
- Campari, Vermouth and various other liqueurs
These don’t always have to live on your cart, but may be in a rotation based on the season or type of gathering you’re having. The most important thing to remember with your home bar is to have fun with it!