Bar carts add glamour to your at-home happy hours.
Bar carts, once a staple in many American homes, offices and restaurants, have made a trendy comeback. Whether inspired by nostalgia or the need to mix your own drinks (a global pandemic having made at-home cocktail hour more popular at the time of this writing), it’s clear: The bar cart is back.
Bar carts can be used for entertaining or simply as elegant home décor, adding a dash of glitz and glamour into your space. Stock your classy, glassy bar cart with these essentials.
Cocktails and Mixers
A selection of versatile liquors is the key to pleasing every palate. Whether top shelf or the basics, every bar cart should have vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whiskey and scotch (FYI: All scotch is whiskey, but not all whiskey is scotch). Bonus points for also stocking orange liqueur, vermouth and Campari!
Seeing that we can’t all be like Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway and drink unescorted whiskey, mixers like juice, soda, tonic water, simple syrups and bitters (even better if homemade!) should all be in attendance. Throw in some edible flowers for an even more dazzling display.
Gadgets and Gizmos
The secret language of mixology may be a tricky one, but there are some basic and necessary tools for every bar cart tender.
Boston shaker: Seen in most bars, a Boston shaker uses a large glass and metal tumbler to shake the ice with cocktail ingredients, fully mixing the cocktail and deeply chilling the drink with the ice. (A standard shaker is one piece with a built-in strainer and is efficient enough for at-home bartenders.)
Jigger: Sometimes referred to as a measurer, a jigger is essential. Whether measuring ounces or milliliters, this little metal wonder measures perfectly to create consistently tasty drinks.
Muddler: Think pestle; it’s used to muddle or mash fruits, herbs and spices to release flavors. Cocktails that require a muddler include a mojito, mint julep and old fashioneds.
Whiskey stone: Used to chill whiskey and other spirits, a whiskey stone—a natural, clean cut soapstone—chills a drink without diluting it. Whiskey stones are nonporous, odorless and tasteless, and retain a colder temperature longer than ice.
Other gizmos to have on hand include a bottle opener (for obvious reasons), decanters and an ice bucket with tongs.
Bits and Pieces
No bar cart would be complete without the appropriate glassware.
Highball and Collins (slightly taller than a highball) glasses are good for gin and tonics, vodka and club soda, and tiki drinks.
Coupe glasses have replaced the better-known martini glass as the go-to for cocktails; less spillage and generally smaller, coupe glasses are more forgiving.
Single rocks glasses are best for anything served neat. Typically between eight and 10 ounces, a single rocks glass is large enough for the drink (whiskey, scotch, bourbon, brandy) and a whiskey stone.
Pro tip: Place glasses in the freezer an hour or so before serving for better chilled drinks.