How to Build the Perfect Bar Cart

By |2018-01-17T21:57:48+00:00January 17th, 2018|The Food & Drink Edit|

The tools you need to master the art of the prepared drink.

The bar cart is experiencing a renaissance. No longer just a symbol of decadence restricted to the Don Drapers and Gatsbys of the world, the bar cart has become a modern staple for anyone who likes to entertain or simply enjoys the beauty of a thoughtfully prepared cocktail.

If you’re looking to introduce a bar cart into your home, or if you just want to spruce up the one you currently have, Kristen Voisey, owner of Toronto’s BYOB Cocktail Emporium and ½ oz. Cocktail Emporium, breaks down what you actually need for a fully functional bar cart, no matter your drink of choice.

The Essentials

Proper tools, quality ingredients and glassware should form the bulk of your cart. According to Voisey, a shaker, strainer, bar spoon, jigger and mixing glass are pretty much all you need to meet any cocktail request that comes your way. Every cart should be stocked with a few flavours of bitters and a few syrups, as well. Voisey recommends aromatic bitters and orgeat syrup (made from almonds, sugar and rose water). Double old fashioned glasses for spirit-forward cocktails on the rocks are also key, and if wine is your drink of choice, be sure to keep an aerator, foil cutter and decanter on hand.

Torani Syrup, $11.98 at; Jack Rudy Aromatic Bitters, $16.95 at; Deluxe Steel Bar Tools Set, $125 at; Frost Wine Decanter, $49.95 at

Pretty Things

“People are trending towards good-looking bar tools that are functional and have a great decorative element as well, similar to what bars in the ’50s and ’60s had,” says Voisey. Copper and gunmetal bar accessories are sleek and modern, while unique cocktail coupes (a must for bubbly bevvies and cocktails served without ice) with intricate etching and patterns are classic and add an elevated feel to any service.

Old Dutch International Copper-Plated Lined Ice Bucket with Brass Tongs, $89.95 at; Vintage Etched Coupe Glass, $94.95 for set of 4 at

Great Guidance

“A great decorative and functional element to add to any bar cart is a stack of cocktail books,” says Voisey. Even for the most seasoned hostesses and mixologists, a good cocktail book is the perfect source for delicious inspiration. She currently recommends Death and Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, The PDT Cocktail Book and Meehan’s Bartender Manual.

The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy, $27.95 at

Top Carts

When choosing the perfect bar cart for your home, Voisey advises you “consider space and how many spirits you have on hand. Many people have too many spirits for a simple bar cart.” Go as large or as compact as you please, but remember that since it will never take the place of a full bar, limit the contents of your cart to the essentials, and swap out spirits, accents and tools as needed.

Clarity Bar Cart, $324.99 at; Safavieh Fox Lavinia Bar Cart, $443 at; Salvador Bar Cart, $99 at