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One of the best benefits of finally owning your own home is the ability to easily have friends and family over for both small get-togethers and large celebrations. And what gathering is complete without cocktails to kick off the event?
Step One: The Cart
Don’t be afraid to get creative and “hack” a cart of your own creation. There are many stylish bar cart options available both brand new and found in antique shops. However, a bar cart can easily be made from any sort of cart of your choosing or even not be a cart at all! Bookshelves and credenzas make for great bar cart alternatives.
The goal is to find something that fits your style, preferences and, of course, your cocktail collection. Consider if you’d like a built-in rack to hold liquor bottles or a drawer to store utensils. What you want for sure is a surface area large enough to work from and, if there are shelves, enough space to allow for bottle heights.
Step Two: Stock Up
If you don’t have one already, you’ll want to start building up a collection. Aim to have a bottle of each “go-to” type to cater to your guest’s variety of preferences. You’ll want to have a bottle each of vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, rum, and brandy.
Opt for at least mid-shelf options. It’s okay to pick up small to medium sized bottles at first. Over time your collection will evolve and take on a “life” of its own where you’ll know what types, brands, and sizes to get to keep it well stocked. But to begin it’s wise to start small.
Step Three: The Fixings
Your next stop should be to pick up at least a few of the classic mixers: cranberry juice, coke, ginger ale/beer, and soda water. Others to consider are tomato, pineapple, and orange juice.
As your collection grows and evolves to become more complex you’ll probably want to consider cordials, syrups, bitters, and liqueurs. Simple syrup and aromatic bitters are perfect additions to a beginner collection.
Step Four: Tools of the Trade
Of course, you’ll need tools to craft your cocktails with. When getting started it’s very easy to find a kit with all the necessities. You’ll want to make sure you have a bottle opener, corkscrew, mixer, shaker, cocktail strainer, jigger, bar spoon, napkins and straws. Other handy tools to have are an ice bucket, muddler, and juicer.
If you’d like to keep a minimal cart cocktail tumblers will get the job done for most cocktails. However. If you’d like to have a full array you’ll need:
High ball (10 to 14 fl oz)
Low ball (4 to 10 fl oz)
Step Five: Putting It Together
The trick to making your bar cart (or really any grouping of items) look carefully curated and appealing is to follow a couple of design rules.
Group like-items together. So liquor bottles are in one grouping, and glasses in another. Decorative trays add to the aesthetic while also maintaining order.
Place short items towards the front and tall to the back. This creates uniformity and a tidy display. It also ensures nothing gets hidden or lost in the process if you have a large collection.
The rest is about creating a unique-to-you display. It’s common to display a painting behind or above the cart and add a vase of flowers or lamp. When purchasing items for your cart keep your home decor in mind. Does a sleek set bar tools create a similar aesthetic? Or perhaps an eclectic mix found at flea markets and specialty shops. If your area has local distilleries picking up bottles from these brands creates a truly unique display.