How to Curate the Perfect Bar Cart, According to the Best Party Planner in the Country

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A good cocktail starts with the right tools.

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Whether you’re a social butterfly and love having people over to show off your mixology skills or you simply enjoy the occasional old fashioned, a well-stocked bar cart is a useful—and stylish—addition to your home.

“Bar carts add an easy elegance to any gathering no matter how big or how small,” says party-planner extraordinaire Bronson van Wyck. And if there’s a person who knows a thing or two about entertaining people, that’s definitely him. His roster of clients includes not one, but three presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama), as well as celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Alicia Keys, and Martha Stewart.


Courtesy Hannah Thomson

“The great thing about them [bar carts] is that they’re a blank canvas where you can project your personality. Load them up with mason jars for rustic backyard gatherings or antique silver if you’re trying to be James Bond. You can really outfit them to anytime and any occasion,” he says.

And they also send a positive message to your guests.

“If you see a bar cart in the corner, you know you’re in good hands with a host who likes to have a good time,” van Wyck adds. “They also really dress up any get together. A drink that’s mixed on a cart not a counter tastes just a little bit better and definitely seems a whole lot fancier.”

So how do you make sure your bar cart has everything you need for a memorable party?

“A good host is thinking ahead, and stacking the deck so that he can let a celebration unfold,” he explains.

Start off with the obvious—the liquor.  Keep some good tequila on hand van Wyck suggests (he prefers 21 Seeds’ infused tequila since it makes for great Margaritas), gin and vodka (hello, perfect Martini), and a good whiskey (“Having a manhattan or old fashioned feels even more Mad Men when mixed from a cart.”) And since summer is just around the corner, stock up on Campari and sweet vermouth so you can whip up a flawless Negroni.

Consider investing in a few beautiful crystal decanters to store the liquor in—they will make your bar cart looking a lot classier.

Next up, every mixologist needs tools. A shaker with a built-in strainer is a must-have as well as a hand juicer and citrus peeler for all the twists. Add to the mix a jigger for proper measuring, a muddler, bar spoons, and glass straws.

Finally, when it comes to garnishes, it really depends on your preferences but Van Wyck recommends always having lemons, limes, and oranges on hand (“Citrus is the bar cart hero.”) Fresh herbs like mint, rosemary, and thyme are not only essential cocktail ingredients but also double as decoration. A selection of bitters is also a no-brainer and stuffed olives and pickled vegetables will perfectly complement your savory sippers.

Now, check out all the bar cart essentials Van Wyck swears by.

Celerie Kemble for Arteriors Tinsley Bar Cart


Courtesy Horchow

This vintage-inspired bar cart features stylish brass finishes, two tiers plated with antiqued mirror glass, and 360 swivel casters.

To buy: $510, horchow.com

Baccarat Decanters


Courtesy 1st Dibs

These decanters from the 1960s are perfect to store liquor. Van Wyck suggests tying a different colored ribbon around each that has its contents written in metallic marker.

To buy: $825/item, 1stdibs.com

Saint Louis Manhattan Home Speakeasy Set


Courtesy Modi Operandi

“This set is a one and done purchase that will last a lifetime,” says Van Wyck. It includes a crystal cocktail shaker with four coupes, a silver-plated metal jigger, and a spoon for mixing ingredients.

To buy: $2,230, modaoperandi.com

Georg Jensen Manhattan Ice Bucket and Tong


Courtesy Bloomingdale's

This design of this sleek ice bucket is inspired by the Jazz Age in New York City and it will definitely add a sophisticated Roaring 20s vibe to your bar cart. It has a tightly fitting lid and conveniently comes with a tong.

To buy: $179, bloomingdales.com

Square Hermetic Glass Bottles


Courtesy Container Store

Van Wyck prefers storing sparkling water and juices like cranberry and orange in old-fashioned glass bottles with stoppers like these ones.

To buy: from $4, containerstore.com

Tessaro Set-Of-Six Metallic Striped Glass Straws


Courtesy Modi Operandi

These Italian-made glass straws are a very stylish and eco-friendly addition to your bar cart. They are made from glass and sport an allover metallic stripe pattern.

To buy: $126/set of 6, modaoperandi.com

The Bitter Housewife Bitters Kit


Courtesy Williams Sonoma

This bitters set is comprised of cardamom, orange, and a blend of aromatic ingredients that enhance the flavor of classic cocktails such as the Manhattan, Earl Grey Tea, and old fashioned, so they will definitely come in handy at your next party.

To buy: $25, williams-sonoma.com

Crate&Barrel Coupe Cocktail Glass


Courtesy Crate & Barrel

Also known as a champagne coupe, this bowl-shaped glass is perfect to serve classic cocktails such as a manhattan or a daiquiri, and of course, champagne. Fortunately, this coupe is dishwasher-safe so no need to stay up after the party and hand wash every single glass.

To buy: $5, cratebarrel.com

Riedel Rocks Glass


Courtesy Bloomingdale's

“A short cut crystal rocks glass is your most versatile player,” says van Wyck. This one is made in Germany and will fit larger ice cubes.

To buy: $30, bloomingdales.com