Once considered a mid-century antiquity, the bar cart – or drinks trolley – is back in fashion. The return of the bar cart taps into the current granny chic trend and reflects a growing preference for drinking and entertaining at home. As far as home bar ideas go, a bar cart gives big bang for your style bucks, according to designer Trish Khoury from Grace Interior Designs, Melbourne. “They’re a low-cost way to make a big statement in your home,” she says. And, if styled thoughtfully, a bar trolley can look sophisticated, quirky and cool.
The modern bar cart in Australia isn’t just about drinks; it’s about making a standalone style statement in your home, so get creative. Every bar cart needs some element of artistic elegance, says Vanessa Colyer Tay, Temple & Webster’s Head of Styling. “One of my favourite bar cart styling tips is to position it below a focal piece of art,” she says. “Start styling the top shelf by placing one tall accent piece, like a vase with foliage, or a table lamp.” Then add practical items like decanters and glassware. “You might even like to prop a mirror on your bar cart to make your bottle selection feel more generous.”
Once you’ve styled it like a pro, here are the DIY bar cart essentials you need to include.
Good quality spirits top the list of bar cart essentials. “Start with the basics and grow your collection as you discover your personal preferences,” advises Alissa Gabriel, the group bars manager at Hinchcliff House in Sydney.
Start with a premium gin such as Tanqueray No. Ten Gin made with hand-picked citrus fruits and botanicals, or something topical like Never Never Ginache – the world’s first grenache gin. For whisky, try a smooth and mellow Glen Grant 10YO Single Malt Scotch or Bladnoch 11 YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky with sweet notes of baked apples, cherries and vanilla. Prefer bourbon? Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon features warm spice and subtle smoke flavour.
“A nicely aged tequila or mezcal is also a must,” adds Martin Hudak, co-owner of Sydney bar Sammy Junior. Try Espolón Tequila Reposado, handcrafted with pure blue agave – perfect for mixing margaritas. Then add some height to your bar cart with a tall and slender bottle of vodka such as Ciroc Vodka. It’s a good idea to include some Angostura bitters and perhaps a sweet and dry vermouth.
Complete your bar trolley cart selection with small craft mixers such as Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water.
Cocktail accessories will elevate both your drinks and the look for your at home bar. While investing in a vintage set might be tempting, “It will need to be constantly polished,” says Alissa. Instead, she suggests, “go for basic stainless steel or copper-looking rather than pewter or silver.”
A cocktail shaker, jigger and wine knife are bar cart essentials, and if you really want to impress your guests, Alicia suggests including a tall mixing glass, and long, elegant bar spoon on your bar cart, which “will be a statement piece on its own, even if you don’t use it very often.”
Martin suggests three types of glassware for your bar cart. “A Martini or coupe-style for straight-up drinks, a rocks or Old Fashioned glass for short drinks and a highball or collins glass for long, refreshing drinks.”
Keep your most attractive glassware on display. Consider retro, candy-coloured glassware which is trending right now and makes a great style feature. A pro tip for cocktails? Glasses should be icy cold, so pop them in the freezer for 30 minutes before your guests arrive.
Fresh fruits and herbs will decorate both your bar cart and your cocktails beautifully. Fresh is key – so don’t slice anything till the last minute. Choose vibrant, juicy lemons and limes, crisp bunches of mint and basil, stems of rosemary, and Martini olives. “Buy some elegant metal picks and make sure your olives are always fresh,” advises Martin.
It’s time to fix yourself a drink and toast your newly created home bar!