Everything You Need on Your Bar Cart, According to Interior Designers

Updated 11/20/19

Reagan Taylor Photography

Bar carts have made a serious comeback in the last few years, but more as an interior design detail than a functional way to serve alcohol to guests. "Bar carts are great opportunities for styling because they’re compact enough to fit into any space that needs a little extra something,” design expert and co-founder of Roger + Chris, Chris Stout-Hazard tells MyDomaine.

Bar carts are great opportunities for styling because they’re compact enough to fit into any space that needs a little extra something.

So just what exactly should you put on your bar cart? We asked a bunch of top interior designers their thoughts, and they revealed exactly what they have on theirs. 

Alcohol

While bar carts can serve multiple purposes—as a nightstand, or an entryway, etc.—Annie Selke, Founder & CEO of the Annie Selke Companies, including Dash & Albert and Pine Cone Hill, prefers to use hers to serve its initial purpose. “I entertain all the time, so I use mine as it was intended—as a bar!” she tells MyDomaine. “My favorite ones gleam like jewelry and bring a little sparkle to the room.” Her favorite alcoholic additions include Berkshire Mountain Distillers and Fever Tree mixers, Hibiki whiskey, Gin Lane 1751 Pink Gin, Jim Beam Black bourbon, Hendricks Gin, Grey Goose vodka, Tito’s vodka, and St. Germain.

Coffee Table Books

tom ford coffee table book
Tom Ford Tom Ford (Slipcase Edition) $126
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As we all know, coffee table books aren’t just for the coffee table. While interior designer Chris Stout-Hazard doesn’t drink, in addition to stocking a few bottles of wine for guests alongside some art pieces, he displays his favorite art books on his bar cart as well. Selke is on the same page. “You want people to help themselves, have fun, and stay a while!” she exclaims.

Lighting 

table lamp
Frontgate Cassidy Sphere Table Lamp $299
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Keshi Akino, Vice President of Design for Frontgate, loves when bar carts are filled with a variety of objects, including a small, but statement making lamp. “Smaller profile table lamps can easily layer onto this look,” she explains. “Look to lamp designs that fit the space and lend some curiosity.”

Dimensional Items 

stone on stand
West Elm Natural Stone on Stand Objects $69+
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“When it comes to interior decorating, every space matters, including the bar cart. I always love to add more than just your typical cocktail mixers and supplies to create a perfect vignette,” explains interior designer Karen B. Wolf. “Right now, I am loving the drama that geometric pieces add to any space.”

Candles 

candle
Capri Blue Gilded Faceted Jar $40
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Candles are always the perfect filler for a bar cart, according to Wolf. “If you do go the candle route, I suggest choosing one that feels more like a statement than just your standard candle in a jar,” she explains. “Zodax is one of my favorite places to source fun candles that feel a bit out of the ordinary.”

Bar Essentials

ice bucket
S'well Teakwood Ice Bucket and Tongs $50
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Some of the best accessories for your bar cart are things you actually need to make a drink. “My bar cart has a combination of the essential things you need to mix, pour and serve a drink—a barware set, ice bucket, decanters, glassware, coasters and swizzle sticks—with some fun accessories like matches, napkins, and some greenery mixed in,” explains Casey DeBois.

Vintage Barware 

Instead of ordering the first barware you can find online, try finding something a little more original, suggests interior designer Caroline Brackett. “Decorate with vintage barware, always,” she suggests. Also, mix “high and low” with a variety of bottles and glassware for visual appeal. 

Framed Drink Recipes

gold frame
Anthropologie Pressed Glass Photo Frame $18+
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Bracket also suggests finding a cool frame that you can interchange with whatever signature cocktail recipe you are serving that night. “That way, anyone can easily mix it up with the other available ingredients, if they’d like.”

Signature Cocktail Napkins

embroidered napkins
Minhcraft Initial Monogram Cocktail Napkin, Set of 4 $25
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In addition to a beautiful glass wine decanter, your favorite tequila, and a set of pretty glassware, Ariel Okin recommends investing in some signature cocktail napkins.

An Extravagant Shaker

Rayman Boozer, principal designer at Apartment 48, always has beautiful looking bottles of booze on his cart—including Casa Amigos tequila, Bombay Sapphire gin, and Woodford Reserve whiskey. But one of his other must have items is an extravagant shaker. “My favorite is etched crystal with brass detailing,” he reveals.

Unexpected Elements 

decorative bust
Cyan Design The Great Bust $40
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In addition to the essentials, Boozer offers up an easy way to make a statement on your bar cart. “I like to add unexpected elements to my bar setups—a bust, a chess set, or a vase of peacock feathers for example—something to stand out and grab your attention.”

Trays

decorative tray
Pottery Barn Lynn Brass & Mirror Tray $49
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Gideon Mendelson, founder and creative director of Mendelson Group, suggests using trays to separate items on your bar cart. “Trays add dimension to the cart surface, creating aesthetic appeal while also providing an organizational function,” he explains.

Plants

plant
Bloomscape Potted Philodendron Heartleaf $35
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Megan Hammaker, Interior Designer at //3877 is all about adding some greenery to your bar cart. “Currently, I have two plants on my bar cart,” she reveals. “They bring a touch of life to your cart, and add instant softness.” You can even make your plant useful by opting for the edible type—you know, an herb you can add to one of your signature cocktails! “If you can keep a mint plant or basil plant alive on your cart, even better,” she explains. “Then it’s usable, decorative, and smells nice!”

If you can keep a mint plant or basil plant alive on your cart, even better. Then it’s usable, decorative, and smells nice.

Varied Glassware

Laura Umansky, Founder & Creative Director at Laura U Interior Design explains that beautiful, statement glassware is an essential for any bar cart. “I have a variety of options for every drinking experience, like Glencairn glasses for whiskey and I love a classic coupe for champagne. A crystal decanter is an absolute must. It’s these details that make a simple cocktail extra special,” she explains. Adds Hammaker: “I have a range of bourbon glasses, copper mugs, and unique handmade pottery from coffee mugs to espresso cups, and even a flask,” she says.

Extra Space

While the options are really endless when it comes to styling your bar cart, don’t forget to live a little space so that it is actually functional for pouring and mixing drinks. “It seems silly, but it’s important,” says Hammaker. “You don’t have to fill the whole cart up, leave some breathing room for whatever fun drinks you’re making, and let your curated selection shine without feeling cluttered. Any utensils that don’t feel decorative, put away in drawers/cabinets and pull out when needed.”

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