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Keeping things classy

February 3, 2019 GMT

Bar carts were originally a cross over from English tea trolleys that were first created to accommodate the aristocracy’s need to make a big deal of serving tea. Bar carts enjoyed a rise in popularity in America after Prohibition when social drinking was embraced and glamorized in home entertainment.

During the 1950s and ’60s, when the cocktail hour was a daily occurrence, the bar cart was ever so fashionable. It began to wane in favor in the 1970s due to the built-in bar. Now it’s back again, and as many will testify it continues to serve its intended purpose and more.

Many people like a bar cart for its versatility. When it’s not decked out with wine and roses, it often serves as an extra table beside a bed or at the end of a sofa. Some use it in an office to free up desk space while others might use it in the bath for cosmetics or towels. It can be that extra element one might need in most any room. Bar carts usually have wheels, making them easy to maneuver about the house, hence they are ever more adaptable to the need at hand.


Even though the bar cart can be flexible, it is first and foremost a bar cart, and there is lots of advice on how to make the best use of it in that capacity. The first bit of advice is to not overcrowd it with every accoutrement a bar might need. Set it up to accommodate your likes and whatever you traditionally serve to guests. Some would suggest you use trays to define zones on the cart for the essentials, such as one tray with glassware, another with bottles of wine.

Bar carts are usually open and readily viewable, so dress it for the occasion. Consider having a color theme or different textures to add interest to the scene. Shop for cocktail napkins that bring a smile either due to the message or their charming illustration. To give the vignette a little spark, add a few of your best finds from a tag sale, such as vintage bar tools or antique glassware. Living things seem intentional, so include a flower dangling down from the top shelf that just might say “fait accompli”!

When it comes to the liquor, include what you actually use and maybe add something in an attractive package or bottle to add to the bar cart picture. Be practical — stock the basic liquors — but have something unexpected as well. Include a couple of snacks such as a covered bowl of nuts that have a bit of a shelf life, so on some level you will always be ready to serve a drink and a snack.

It’s easy to clutter the cart because of all the varied ingredients needed to make it a working bar, but be intent on making it clutter-free so that as one feasts their eyes on the cart they enjoy what they see. Remember: One eats and drinks with their eyes before a morsel touches the lips.


For whatever purpose one wants to use a bar cart, finding one is not that difficult. Most home furnishing shops have examples to sell and finding a unique one at a flea market or antique shop is often an easy task. A whimsically stocked bar cart is reminiscent of another era yet readily fits today’s trends as well. Cheers!