The Ultimate Bar Cart Checklist

Bar Cart Essentials Bar carts have been the hot interior entertaining item for some time now, but many are left with a really cool bar area and struggle to begin filling it. Help is here!! Whether you’re using a cart, vintage credenza, built-in, or an actual bar… pin or print off the ULTIMATE bar checklist below. You’ll be styled and party-ready in no time! Consider this your guide to a fully stocked bar.

First things first… liquor! Sadly, my liquor preferences are usually based on the packaging (hey! I’m a designer), or I ask the clerk for recommendations. Although I don’t buy top shelf liquor every single time, I do believe that quality liquor makes a difference- so I steer clear of the reallllly cheap stuff.

Bar Essentials - Liquor 01: cointreau // 02: st. germain // 03: campari // 04: scotch // 05: gin // 06: tequila // 07: bourbon // 08: light rum // 09: grand marnier // 10: vodka // 11: dry vermouth // 12: sweet vermouth // 13: dark rum

I prefer basic mixers to avoid clutter and expensive speciality products. I will say, keeping a few of your favorite fresh juices on hand is never a bad idea! My juice preference is fresh squeezed grapefruit (mixed with gin, of course).

Bar Essentials - Mixers 01: grenadine // 02: club soda // 03: tonic water // 04: fresh fruit juice (of your preference) // 05: simple syrup // 06: sparkling water // 07: angostura bitters

Beer and wine are easy additions for entertaining, but I typically don’t keep these items on the actual bar cart. Instead, that saves room for garnishes and ingredients for craft cocktails. In addition to their functionality, I love that lemons, limes, and oranges add a pop of color to the bar. I also try to source fun bowls and containers to display them.

Bar Essentials - Garnishes 01: limes // 02: granulated sugar // 03: maraschino cherries // 04: kosher salt // 05: lemons // 06: ice molds & ice // 07: oranges

Obviously, you’ll need bar tools! You most likely already have a cutting boarding and paring knife on hand. At first, I only purchased a shaker and jigger, only to realize that most cocktails require a few additional tools, like a muddler. Having an ice bucket truly isn’t necessary, but I love the way it looks, plus it’s a nice contrast in scale alongside other bar items.

Bar Essentials - Tools 01: cocktail shaker // 02: muddler // 03: paring knife // 04: ice bucket (optional) // 05: long cocktail spoon // 06: cutting board // 07: peeler // 08: corkscrew & bottle opener // 09: jigger // 10: citrus press

I hardly ever purchase cocktail glasses from big box stores. In fact, the only glassware I use from those type of retailers were wedding gifts. I’d rather find glassware at thrift stores. I shoot so many cocktails for the blog or for clients, I’ve come to need a lot of interesting glasses. I’ve found really fun, quality glassware (usually under $1 each) of every shape and size at local consignment stores. It’s sort of a running joke that I’m not allowed to bring home any more glassware because we’re out of cabinet space. Ahhh, the life of a food photographer. Ha!

Bar Essentials - Glassware 01: martini glass // 02: high ball glasses // 03: coupe // 04: red wine glass // 05: white wine glass // 06: tumbler

Last but not least, the fun part of the bar… the accessories! I love hoarding cocktail and bartending books, cocktail napkins, decanters and swizzle sticks. If you spend the time making craft cocktails, go the extra mile and include a beautiful cocktail napkin. This is exactly where you should insert your personality and aesthetic.

Bar Essentials - Accessories 01: cocktail toothpicks // 02: cocktail napkins // 03: bartending books // 04: decanters // 05: swizzle sticks

In my true list-making fashion (yes- I’m that person), I wanted to create an easy shopping printout for you guys. Click the image below to download the printable PDF.

Ultimate-Bar-Cart-Checklist Now, the only thing left to do… invite friends over and have drinks!! Here are five of my favorite recipes to get you started:

If you’ve yet to commit to a home bar, shop my favorite carts, credenzas, and buffets below.

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  • Reply
    June 9, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    World Market has a great bar cart. I have it and I love it.

    It’s got three shelves which is nice for extra storage. I highly recommend it :)

    • Reply
      June 9, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks for sharing that one, Jessica! I love it. I bet it looks fantastic in person. xo

  • Reply
    December 31, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    hi there i was just wondering if you have any information on the bar cart in the picture please?
    thank you

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 7:33 am

      The bar cart was actually a lucky vintage find! I haven’t been able to find a link that’s similar. Sorry about that!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    just turned 21 and bought a bar cart for myself and guests, so glad I found this post!

    • Reply
      November 7, 2021 at 7:56 pm

      Aw, congrats Maxine! Enjoy!!

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