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cocktails: The Ultimate Bar Cart Checklist

Bar carts have been the hot interior entertaining item for some time now, but many are left with a really cool bar area and struggle to begin filling it. Help is here!! Whether you’re using a cart, vintage credenza, built-in, or an actual bar… pin or print off the ULTIMATE bar checklist below. You’ll be styled and party-ready in no time! Consider this your guide to a fully stocked bar.

First things first… liquor! Sadly, my liquor preferences are usually based on the packaging (hey! I’m a designer), or I ask the clerk for recommendations. Although I don’t buy top shelf liquor every single time, I do believe that quality liquor makes a difference- so I steer clear of the reallllly cheap stuff.

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01: cointreau // 02: st. germain // 03: campari // 04: scotch // 05: gin // 06: tequila // 07: bourbon // 08: light rum // 09: grand marnier // 10: vodka // 11: dry vermouth // 12: sweet vermouth // 13: dark rum

I prefer basic mixers to avoid clutter and expensive speciality products. I will say, keeping a few of your favorite fresh juices on hand is never a bad idea! My juice preference is fresh squeezed grapefruit (mixed with gin, of course).

01: grenadine // 02: club soda // 03: tonic water // 04: fresh fruit juice (of your preference) // 05: simple syrup // 06: sparkling water // 07: angostura bitters

Beer and wine are easy additions for entertaining, but I typically don’t keep these items on the actual bar cart. Instead, that saves room for garnishes and ingredients for craft cocktails. In addition to their functionality, I love that lemons, limes, and oranges add a pop of color to the bar. I also try to source fun bowls and containers to display them.

01: limes // 02: granulated sugar // 03: maraschino cherries // 04: kosher salt // 05: lemons // 06: ice molds & ice // 07: oranges

Obviously, you’ll need bar tools! You most likely already have a cutting boarding and paring knife on hand. At first, I only purchased a shaker and jigger, only to realize that most cocktails require a few additional tools, like a muddler. Having an ice bucket truly isn’t necessary, but I love the way it looks, plus it’s a nice contrast in scale alongside other bar items.

01: cocktail shaker // 02: muddler // 03: paring knife // 04: ice bucket (optional) // 05: long cocktail spoon // 06: cutting board // 07: peeler // 08: corkscrew & bottle opener // 09: jigger // 10: citrus press

I hardly ever purchase cocktail glasses from big box stores. In fact, the only glassware I use from those type of retailers were wedding gifts. I’d rather find glassware at thrift stores. I shoot so many cocktails for the blog or for clients, I’ve come to need a lot of interesting glasses. I’ve found really fun, quality glassware (usually under $1 each) of every shape and size at local consignment stores. It’s sort of a running joke that I’m not allowed to bring home any more glassware because we’re out of cabinet space. Ahhh, the life of a food photographer. Ha!

01: martini glass // 02: high ball glasses // 03: coupe // 04: red wine glass // 05: white wine glass // 06: tumbler

Last but not least, the fun part of the bar… the accessories! I love hoarding cocktail and bartending books, cocktail napkins, decanters and swizzle sticks. If you spend the time making craft cocktails, go the extra mile and include a beautiful cocktail napkin. This is exactly where you should insert your personality and aesthetic.

01: cocktail toothpicks // 02: cocktail napkins // 03: bartending books // 04: decanters // 05: swizzle sticks

In my true list-making fashion (yes- I’m that person), I wanted to create an easy shopping printout for you guys. Click the image below to download the printable PDF.

Now, the only thing left to do… invite friends over and have drinks!! Here are five of my favorite recipes to get you started:

If you’ve yet to commit to a home bar, shop my favorite carts, credenzas, and buffets below.

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