How to Style a Bar Cart Like a Pro

How to Style a Bar Cart Like a Pro

You've got friends coming over, the vibe is set, but there's something missing – that statement piece that screams, "I've got style and taste." 

Enter the bar cart. It's not just about mixing drinks; it's about creating an atmosphere, a vibe that says, "Hey, come on in and let's have a good time!" 

But hey, I get it – styling and stocking a bar cart can be daunting. I've been there, staring at a collection of mismatched glasses and wondering where it all went wrong. 

But fear not, my friends! 

With a dash of guidance and a splash of creativity, we'll turn your bar cart from drab to fab in no time. So, grab your favorite cocktail recipe book and let's dive into the art of styling a bar cart like a pro.

Vintage Bar Cart

Photo Source: Margaret Rajic

Understanding the Essentials of Decorating a Bar Cart

First things first, let's talk essentials. When it comes to styling your bar cart, it's all about finding that sweet spot between functionality and aesthetics. You want it to look good and be ready to whip up a killer cocktail at a moment's notice. So, let's break it down – here's what you need to have on hand to make sure your bar cart is ready for anything.


Now, when it comes to glassware, you don't need to go overboard. Keep it simple with a few key pieces that cover all your bases. Think: highball glasses for long drinks, rocks glasses for those neat pours, and cocktail glasses for, well, cocktails! Oh, and don't forget a couple of wine glasses for good measure. Trust me, you'll thank me later.

Spirits and Mixers

Next up, let's talk booze. Now, I'm not saying you need to stock every bottle under the sun – unless you want to, of course. But it's good to have a solid selection of your favorite spirits on hand. Think: whiskey, vodka, gin, rum – you know, the classics. And don't forget about the mixers! A good tonic water, some soda water, and a bottle or two of your favorite juices will cover all your bases.


Ah, the tools of the trade. No bar cart is complete without 'em. You'll want to have a few key items on hand to make sure you're ready to mix up a storm. Think: a shaker (because shaking is way more fun than stirring), a jigger for measuring out those perfect pours, a strainer to keep the ice out of your drink, and maybe even a muddler for when you're feeling fancy. Oh, and a bar spoon – because every good bartender needs a trusty spoon by their side.

Garnishes and Extras

Last but not least, let's talk garnishes. Now, this is where you can really get creative. Fresh herbs, citrus fruits, fancy olives – the world is your oyster! Just make sure you've always got a few staples on hand, like lemons, limes, and maybe even some cocktail cherries for those sweet tooth moments. And hey, don't forget about the ice! Nothing kills the vibe faster than warm drinks, am I right?

Retro Bar Cart

Photo Source: Werner Straube

Crafting Your Aesthetic: Tips for Decorating and Setting Up Your Bar Cart

Now that we've covered the essentials let's talk aesthetics. Decorating a bar cart is all about creating a vibe that reflects your personal style and taste.

Choose Your Style

When it comes to decorating a bar cart, the sky's the limit. Whether you're into sleek and modern or rustic and vintage, choose a style that speaks to you and run with it. Personally, I like to keep things classic with a touch of old-school charm – think leather coasters and vintage glassware.

Color Me Happy

Once you've settled on a style, it's time to think about color. Whether you're a fan of bold, statement hues or prefer a more muted palette, choose colors that complement your existing decor. And don't be afraid to mix and match – a pop of color can really bring your bar cart to life.

Personalize Your Space

One of the best things about decorating a bar cart is that it's a chance to let your personality shine. Whether you're displaying your favorite bottle of bourbon or a quirky cocktail shaker you picked up on your travels, don't be afraid to add personal touches that make your bar cart feel uniquely yours.

Classic bar cart with cocktail posters

Incorporating Cocktail Posters: Adding Flair and Functionality

Now, let's talk about one of my favorite ways to add flair and functionality to your bar cart – cocktail posters. Not only do they look cool as hell, but they can also double as handy recipe guides for your favorite drinks.

The Visual Appeal

There's something undeniably cool about a well-designed cocktail poster hanging above your bar cart. Whether you opt for a classic illustration or a sleek, modern design, a good cocktail poster can instantly elevate your space and give it that extra touch of sophistication.

Educate While You Decorate

But cocktail posters aren't just about looking pretty – they're also incredibly practical. With the recipe right there on the poster, you'll never have to fumble around for your cocktail recipe book again. Plus, it's a great conversation starter for when you're entertaining guests – just point to the poster and say, "That's what we're drinking tonight!"

Choosing the Perfect Poster

When it comes to choosing the perfect cocktail poster for your bar cart, the world is your oyster. Whether you're a fan of the classics like The Old Fashioned and the Margarita or prefer something a little more offbeat, there's a poster out there for you. Just make sure to choose one that complements your bar cart's aesthetic and fits in with your overall decor.

Art Deco Bar Cart Square

Practical Tips for Setup and Display: Making It Work in Your Space

Now that we've covered the basics let's talk about some practical tips for setting up and displaying your bar cart. After all, you want it to look good and be functional, right?

Maximize Space Without Sacrificing Style

If you're working with a small space, fear not – there are plenty of ways to maximize your bar cart's potential without sacrificing style. Invest in some space-saving storage solutions like hanging racks for your glassware or stackable storage containers for your bottles and mixers. Trust me; your bar cart will thank you.

Let There Be Light

Lighting can make all the difference when it comes to setting the mood in your space. Whether you opt for some stylish pendant lights overhead or a few well-placed candles on your bar cart, make sure to incorporate lighting that enhances the ambiance and adds to the overall vibe.

Close up image of a clean bar cart

Maintenance and Refreshing Your Setup: Keeping It Fresh

Last but not least, let's talk about maintenance and refreshing your setup. After all, a well-styled bar cart is like a fine wine – it only gets better with age.

Keep It Clean

First things first, make sure to keep your bar cart clean and organized. Be sure to swap out your perishable garnishes, like lemons and limes, to make sure they are always fresh. Regularly wipe down surfaces and glassware to keep everything looking spick and span. Trust me; nothing ruins the mood faster than a rotten lemon and a dusty bottle of gin.

Switch It Up

Finally, don't be afraid to switch things up every now and then. Whether you're rearranging your glassware or swapping out your cocktail posters for something more seasonal, such as refreshing summer Aperol Spritz, changing up your bar cart setup can breathe new life into your space and keep things feeling fresh and exciting all year long.

Whether you're a seasoned home decorator or a cocktail novice, I hope these tips have inspired you to create a bar cart that's as stylish as it is functional. Now go forth, mix up some drinks, and let the good times roll! Cheers!

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