Tips for Stocking a Bar Cart and Mixing Easy Drinks

Get in good spirits. Think beyond a bunch of bottles on the kitchen counter and stock a beautiful bar cart. Cocktail writer Robert Simonson—author of '3-Ingredient Cocktails'—offers top-to-bottom tips.

Bar Cart

David A. Land

David A. Land

The Goods: Fishs Eddy Charley Harper Pitcher, westelm.com, $18. Gold Bar Spoon with Muddler, crateandbarrel.com, $9. Japanese Style Jigger 1 oz/2 oz, cocktailkingdom.com, $9. Koriko Hawthorne Strainer, cocktailkingdom.com, $25. Bar Knife/Peeler (part of Benson 4-Piece Bar Set), bloomingdales.com, $200. Double Knot Brass Bottle Opener, cb2.com, $20. Stainless Steel Straws, crateandbarrel.com, $7/set of 4. Plum Cocktail Shaker, tomdixon.net, $145. Pop Highball Glass in White, jonathanadler.com, $18 each. Root7 Geo Glass Tumbler in Gold, amazon.com, $43/set of 2. Marie Coupe Smoke Grey Cocktail Glass, cb2.com, $5 each. Orb Sapphire Blue Glass Ice Bucket, crateandbarrel.com, $50.

Suggestions for liquor starters:

  • Vodka
  • London dry gin
  • Bourbon, rye and Irish whiskey
  • Blended Scotch
  • Silver tequila
  • White rum

 “If you need to choose one whiskey, bourbon is the most versatile.”

Mix-ins

Mix ’em up. Once you’ve rounded up the liquor, it’s time to fill in with a few additional items.

  • Club soda
  • Tonic
  • Ginger ale
  • Angostura bitters
  • Orange bitters 
  • Simple syrup
  • Olives
  • Dry and sweet vermouth
  • Lemons, limes and oranges

 “People appreciate drinks made with fresh-squeezed juices as opposed to something like sour mix. It’s a little bit of effort that goes a long way.”

The right glasses

These three options will cover your bases nicely:

  • Rocks glasses
  • Coupe glasses
  • Highball glasses

 “The art of the bar cart is simplicity—it’s like going on a road trip in a compact car. Focus on economy and convenience.”

Step your game up

To achieve master mixologist status, bear in mind: 

  • For killer Moscow Mules, you’ll need ginger beer, copper mugs and stirring rods. 
  • Refreshing spritzers require Campari, Aperol and Prosecco.
  • When only a Cosmo or Margarita will do, reach for Cointreau or Triple Sec.

The tools you need

Equip your cart with this set of basic tools:

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Wine key
  • Jigger
  • Bar spoon 
  • Ice bucket
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • Citrus peeler

 “A bar cart is not complete without a beautiful cocktail shaker.” It’s a standout piece, so go ahead and splurge.

More bar cart options

Industrial Style

Libations Carbon Bar Cart, crateandbarrel.com, $599

Industrial Bar Cart

Courtesy of Crate & Barrel

Courtesy of Crate & Barrel

Stowaway Style

Barrister’s Butler Tray Table, wayfair.com, $440

Stowaway Bar Cart

Courtesy Wayfair

Courtesy Wayfair

Colorful Style

Bennett Bar Cart in Teal, wayfair.com, $129

Colorful Bar Cart

Courtesy of Wayfair

Courtesy of Wayfair

Eclectic Style

Roar + Rabbit Bar Cart, westelm.com, $499

Eclectic Bar Cart

Courtesy of West Elm

Courtesy of West Elm

Modern Style

Acrylic Bar Cart, worldmarket.com, $200

Modern Bar Cart

Courtesy of World Market

Courtesy of World Market

Moscow Mule recipe

A Moscow Mule in a gorgeous copper mug? Yes, please! Trendy initially, now very much here to stay.

In a copper mug, stir 1 1/2 ounces vodka, 1/2 cup ginger beer and 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge and a mint sprig. Leave in the stirring rod for a decorative touch.

 

 

Moscow Mule

Cocktail cherries recipe

Homemade are night-and-day different from the jarred variety. Making them from scratch connotes connoisseur-type class yet requires minimal effort. (Besides being cocktail-worthy, these are AMAZING on ice cream.)

In a small pot, stir 1 cup each sugar and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 2 minutes, until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup brandy. Add 12 oz pitted sour cherries and simmer 6 minutes. Pour cherries and liquid into a lidded jar. Cool completely and seal. Store in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Cocktail Cherries

Three recent books

The Art of the Bar Cart by Vanessa Dina
Packed with stunning style inspo for differing decor and drink preferences.

The Bar Cart Bible from Adams Media
A comprehensive guide, true to its “biblical” title. You’ll find recipes, facts and figures that will elevate your highbrow alcohol knowledge.

3-Ingredient Cocktails by Robert Simonson
Simonson makes mixology totally foolproof, thanks to the three-ingredient max. Plus, learn a little history about each drink along the way.

Stirrers

Glamorous stirring rods are the ticket to expertly whirl stirred drinks like the Moscow Mule (see recipe below). 

Dazzle Swizzle Sticks, crateandbarrel.com, $20/set of 4

Shakers

There’s a method to shaken cocktail madness. For best results: 

1  Measure alcohol and mixers into shaker cup.

2  Fill with ice.

3  Secure lid, grip with one hand on the bottom and the other on the top, then shake vigorously over your shoulder for a count of 10 or until shaker frosts up.

4  Strain and serve.

Coasters

Yes, they’re merely a buffer between sweaty glass and tabletop—but these coasters also add a luxe Art Deco touch to any party.

Linear Gold Coasters, westelm.com, $39/set of 4