The Bar Cart Revival

1950s PanAm stewardess using a bar cart to serve passengers.

1950s PanAm stewardess using a bar cart to serve passengers.

THE BAR CART IS BACK

And in a big way.

Our best guess is that the revival of the bar cart is the result of the popularity of American Movie Classics' Mad Men. Not only is the bar cart a handy thing for those nightcaps we occasionally crave, but they're also very stylish. At least they can be. Here we'll cover how to find the right bar cart, what essentials you'll need for it, and how to dress it up.

FINDING THE RIGHT BAR CART

Consider what furniture you have around your house or in storage. You can use any number of things, a TV cart, an office cart, a tray table or even a bookcase or a shelf. You can decide on the right base for your bar cart based on the style you want for your home or you can consider other factors such as where you'll put the bar cart and how often you drink or entertain others.

It also depends on how crafty you are. There are a lot of solutions that may be perfect if you're handy with a can of paint and a drill. You can hack an IKEA sideboard or kitchen cart. Build your own from wood slats or metal pipes. Or simply paint a cart you found at a yard sale or thrift store for $10. For inspiration, check out this roundup of bar cart DIYs to get your wheels turning.

If you're not so handy and would rather buy the perfect bar cart, you can buy a beautiful one on most any budget. Coaster Fine Furniture has a smaller bar cart that can be found for under $75. And Sauder International has an equally lovely bar cart in gold for under $200. Crate & Barrel has a stunning gold Libations Bar Cart for around $600.

Coaster Fine Furniture

Coaster Fine Furniture

Sauder International

Sauder International

Crate&Barrel

Crate&Barrel

THE ESSENTIALS

How much do you drink on a regular basis? Are Sunday mimosas a thing in your home? Do you and your spouse share gin and tonics most nights? Do you host monthly cocktail parties? Liquor and other alcoholic beverages will be your biggest investment unless you buy one of the pricier carts, but you don't have to stock up to make everything from an Alexander to a Zombie to consider your bar cart complete.

You'll also want glasses and maybe an ice bucket. If you plan on mixing a lot of cocktails, get a shaker and some cocktail recipe books. Mixers are also important if you'll be making cocktails. Drinking a lot of wine? You'll need a corkscrew.

Here's a handy little guide from Matchbook Magazine to the various elements you might want to include in your bar cart.

PIMP MY BAR CART

Before you stock up on all of the essentials and some decorations, remember that a bar cart that is overstuffed is not the most stylish. Keep in mind the proportions of your cart. The larger it is the more you can put on it but maintain a stylish feel with negative space.

Okay, now that we've issued our word of warning about overstuffed bar carts, we'll get to the fun stuff.

A well-appointed bar cart by Gingersnap Jordan

A well-appointed bar cart by Gingersnap Jordan

Group items by theme if you have multiple shelves. Maybe you use the top shelf for cocktail ingredients and tools, use the second shelf for cocktail glasses, napkins and decorative straws, and the third for bottles of wine and wine glasses.

If your shelves are open and you want to avoid clinking glasses or the risk of them falling off the shelves, you can place your glasses in a rectangular basket. Hang a decorative (yet practical!) bar towel or hand towel off your bar cart's handle. And a fan print or some tchotchkes like a ceramic elephant. Fresh flowers can also light up your space and make it feel even more alive.

You have lots of options! Here are four examples to inspire your own beautiful bar cart.

Your bar cart can double as space for other things you love or that you might use when entertaining, like how this bar cart doubles as a space for a record player and records in this picture from The Everygirl.

This bar cart from Gingersnap Jordan.

Love the cookies and the glass liquor bottles on this bar cart from Colorfully Living.

For the girly girl, Miss Renaissance's bar cart is perfect with its pink accents.