7 Tips for Styling a Summer Bar Cart

By Chanel Dror

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By Texas standards, it’s still the good kind of summer. If you live in the South, you know what we mean: temps aren’t in the triple-digits yet, ice cream and popsicles can still hold their own after a few minutes outside, and ice in our cocktails isn’t yet futile. With the season in full swing (and the arrival of this little guy), our team has a lot to celebrate… so we’re spending our days doing just that. But like any gathering, afternoon sips by the pool require a little bit of planning, so a few weeks ago, we spent some time getting our bar cart in order for the fun that awaits. From our favorite summertime alcohol to glassware and accessories that practically scream cannon ball!, stocking the bar was almost as fun as using it. Looking to spruce up your space for warm weather revelry? Keep reading for our tips on how to get it done in a flash…

*photography by Kate Zimmerman

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1. Think outside the cart. Sure, the bar cart may be the hottest ticket in town at the moment, but we love the idea of repurposing an unexpected piece of furniture for the job. An antique armoire, a DIY cabinet or even floating shelves are all equally functional solutions, and just might be a bit more your speed. This vintage metal cabinet has lived two other lives before this: one as a linen cabinet, and another as office storage.

2. Stock up on alcohol. Rule #2 may seem like the most obvious, but if you’re set on perfecting your selection, it may take a bit of fine tuning! Think about stocking your liquor cabinet based on the seasons: since summer is upon us, ours is currently stocked with tequila and rum for making fruity drinks to enjoy poolside. Three items that never vary though, are high-quality tonic, a great bottle of bubbly in case celebration strikes, and Bailey’s Irish Cream for serving with coffee for the perfect ending to any dinner party.

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3. Invest in a bar kit. Not only are bar tools a crucial part of mixing up craft cocktails, but they’re a perfect way to add a hint of metal to an otherwise flat shelf space. Cocktail Kingdom has an unbeatable selection of pretty shakers, jiggers and bar spoons, but you can find these tools just about anywhere! Instead of hiding them behind a cabinet door, set them out on your bar cart where they can really shine.

4. Be mobile. Placing trays like this one (similar here) on the shelves of your bar makes the transport of individual items easy. So when you want guests to gather around the coffee table, for example, bringing the bar to them is a snap. Above all, we love incorporating trays and platters into shelf styling, as there’s no easier way to instantly add a pop of color or texture.

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5. Consider your glassware selection. Between tumblers and high balls, stemware and shot glasses, mint julep cups and moscow mule mugs, it’s easy to become addicted to overwhelmed by glassware. Our advice? Think about what your go-to cocktails are and streamline your selection accordingly: I go with one type of wine glass, one type of shot glass, and a set of mid-size glasses that can work with just about any cocktail.

6. Make it personal. So often we choose to buy basics for our dining and entertaining needs, because sticking to a neutral color palette makes dinner parties and impromptu brunches come together easy-breezy. But if you ask us, a bar cart is one area where you can let loose and flaunt your personal style. Think about showcasing family heirloom glassware, or rotating your selection seasonally (’cause how much do these say summer!?). Don’t forget your favorite mixology books, scented candles, or vintage knick knacks to truly add personality to the space.

7. Get guest-ready. Nothing adds life and warmth to a room like a little greenery, and the same goes for your bar cart. Before guests arrive, stock up on fresh herbs in water and ripe, zesty citrus… the addition will not only look amazing, but also ensure your guests have everything they need to get mixin’!