Menus & Entertaining

How to stock a bar cart

By: Brett Walther / Photography by Evaan Kheraj

Menus & Entertaining

How to stock a bar cart

By: Brett Walther / Photography by Evaan Kheraj

We've got five tips on how to set up your bar cart so that you can enjoy your party and keep the cocktails flowing.


When hosting a party, the last thing you need to be worried about is topping up drinks throughout the evening. That's where a bar cart comes in: It allows your guests to serve themselves, leaving you free to tackle the more pressing tasks on your to-do list—and to enjoy a drink, too! Here's how to stock a bar cart that looks after itself.

1. Bottle service
Space on the bar cart is at a premium, so edit down your selection of wine and spirits to a few essentials. At the bare minimum, you should offer red wine, white wine, beer and the ingredients for a signature cocktail.

2. Break the ice
The rule of thumb is to plan for one pound of ice per guest. That takes into account not just the ice cubes you're adding to drinks but also ice in buckets to chill white wine and beer. To ensure that you have enough, start bagging the ice in your refrigerator's ice maker a few days in advance of the party.

3. Mix Master
A bar cart should include a few nonalcoholic options—including water—as stand-alone beverages and mixers. Transfer fruit juices from their not-so-pretty packages into handsome decanters; any leftovers can be popped into the fridge at the end of the night.

4. Glass act
To save space, opt for double-duty glassware like stemless wineglasses, which can be used for either red or white wine. Although you can't possibly provide the perfect glass for every cocktail imaginable, you can tick most boxes by offering two different sizes (a rocks glass and a collins glass, for instance) and a versatile Champagne coupe.

5. Tool time
Steer clear of any bar tools that your guests would need an instruction manual to operate. A simple corkscrew, a long spoon, a jigger and a cocktail shaker with a strainer are likely the only hardware you'll need on hand.

For more party-planning tips, visit our ultimate holiday hosting guide.

This story was originally part of "Raising the Bar" in the November 2015 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!
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How to stock a bar cart

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