If you’ve ever read one of my blog posts, chances are you’re aware of my affinity for cocktails, bar carts, and all things drinking-accessory related. My collection of striped straws and cocktail stirrers rivals the prop closets at my favorite magazines (and could actually be teetering on hoarder status). With the holidays upon us, it’s the perfect time of year to get your own bar cart stocked with all of the essentials for easy entertaining (and more importantly, impromptu cocktail mixing!). I broke down all of my favorite pieces that are absolute must-haves to stock your holiday bar cart, from the bar itself, to glassware, tools, and all of the fun stuff that makes our drinks look festive! build-the-bar-cart_v2Glassware. I love funky detailed glasses, vintage pieces, and specialty glassware and have a pretty solid collection that I use for props in blog posts and styling projects. When it comes to entertaining though, I like to keep my glassware fairly simple. Part of that comes from over a decade of tiny apartment living where we had limited storage and no dishwasher. If you only have one set of glasses in your whole house, I’d invest in a set of low, sleek Italian wine tumblers – they are total workhorses. I serve wine in them, they’re fun for mixed drinks, and work great for brunches where they double as juice glasses or vessels for a bloody mary or mimosa. Sometimes I even serve desserts in them! If you have a bit more space and want to expand your collection, invest in a case of versatile wine glasses and sturdy champagne flutes (nothing says it’s a party like a champagne flute!). I love the caterer cases from Pottery Barn because they’re solidly made and are inexpensive enough that I’m not going to freak out if one breaks. For extra specialty glassware, like fun Moscow mule mugs or margarita glasses, don’t bother buying huge stock of these. Instead, find a great rental place that can lend them to you for a one-time event (and bonus: they wash them — easy cleanup!).

Bar Tools. Much like my glassware collection, I’m a bar tool hoarder. I say they’re “props” for work and that seems to help justify my overflowing collection of bar tools, drink accessories, and festive bar decorations. The truth is though, the bar tools I actually use are pretty minimal. You absolutely need a great corkscrew on your bar cart for opening wine. I’ve tried tons of different kinds (the fancy electric corkscrews, the giant rabbit wine opener) and I always come back to a simple OXO corkscrew – I have the classic two-arm wine opener, and the waiter’s corkscrew is another great option. I have a few cocktail shakers on hand for mixing up a martini, but when entertaining I lean more towards batch cocktails and love having a big drink dispenser on the bar cart for self-serve drinks. In the same vein, a great party-bucket to keep under the bar with bottled drinks and an ice bucket for ice are essentials. The only other tool I use consistently on my bar is a good paring knife for slicing up citrus. 

The Fun Stuff. My biggest vice is the party-supply aisle at Home Goods – I have a physical urge to scoop up every last striped straw, cocktail napkin and letterpress coaster as fast as I can and run to the check-out aisle. My patient husband puts up with my ever-growing cocktail-accessory collection, and he’s a saint for it! Bar carts are all about getting fun and festive, so I keep mine well stocked with a few essentials: A range of colorful striped straws, festive drink stirrers, an array of darling cocktail napkins, and a few coasters for guests to grab and use along the way. If we’re serving lots of wine, I might put out some seasonal drink markers. To stay prepared for surprise guests I’ll keep a few tasty mixers on hand, some citrus or herbs in the fridge, and bottles of sparkling water and juices on the bar cart.

The Bar Cart. When it comes to the actual bar cart, I have an absolute favorite: my bright pink Society Social bar cart. It’s a conversation piece (to say the least) and one my prized possessions! I love that they’re made in the US and come in a huge range of colors and styles. It’s a big investment though, so if you’re looking for a budget option try the bar carts at Target or a low-profile tray stand from World Market. Even an oversized tray corralling your cocktail ingredients and bar tools can be a great makeshift “bar cart” on a buffet or kitchen countertop.

All you need now is to stock up on the booze! Happy holiday cocktail-ing!

Champagne Flutes | Wine Glasses | Bar Knives | Gold Tumblers | Champagne Coupes| Scalloped Cheers Napkins | Gold Marble Napkins | Pop the Bubbly Napkins | Polka Dot Coasters | Tinsel Drink Stirrers | Tassel Wine Charms | Merry and Bright Drink Dispenser | Black Tray and Tray Stand | Target Bar Cart | Society Social Bar Cart | Assorted Belvoir Cordials | Blood Orange Cocktail Mix | Gold Cocktail Shaker | OXO Corkscrew | Monogrammed Ice Bucket | Gold Bar Tool Set | Wine Tumblers