How to Stock a Bar Cart

When it comes to your home bar the options are literally endless. Every time the words endless and booze are used in the same sentence things can get expensive really fast. Here is how we stock our bar cart and the steps we took to build it out.

Hey guys! Passing the blog off to my husband today so he can bring all his bar cart tips and tricks. Take it away Thomas!

My best advice when it comes to your home bar is to take your time building out your cocktail station and figure out the purpose you want it to serve. Who does it serve? Is it going to be a statement piece? Is it a place to store all your alcohol?

Bar Cart 101 from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Gaby and I love to entertain so our bar carts primary purpose is to house all our booze and make it easy and accessible for guests to make a cocktail when they come over. Everyone has specific preferences when it comes to drinks so we take the approach of giving them the tools to make their own cocktail of choice. We want people to have a good time and feel relaxed when they visit. A fully stocked bar is a good first step to achieving that.

Bar Cart 101 from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

The Cart:

Flex your creative muscles here, literally anything can be used as a bar cart. A table, an actual “Bar Cart“, or the corner of a book shelf. Literally any flat surface can work. The only rule is that it should not be in direct sunlight. Spirits need to be stored at room temperature. Keeping them cool and away from direct sunlight preserves them longer. As temperatures rise, the alcohol begins to expand and can evaporate more quickly. This changes the flavor profile and quality of the booze.
This is the bar cart that we have

The tools:

Cocktail Mixing Glass

I prefer to use a cocktail mixing glass vs a shaker, sorry James Bond. For some reason when I think of cocktail mixing glasses I think of the Great Gatsby. Shakers give off more of that sports bar college frat vibe where the bar tender is wearing a sweatband around his forearm with a bottle opener under it while mixing up 5 midori sours.

As far as practicality, I find cocktail mixing glasses more convenient vs a shaker. The wider base and larger mouth makes it easier to pour and less likely to tip over. Glass allows you to see the beverage you are mixing and it just looks cool to see the spirts combine when they are stirred. Every time I use a shaker the lid either does not seal and it gets everywhere or, I cant get the top off and lose half of my drink when it finally gives way. This is the one we have.

Mixing Spoon

If you go the mixing glass route you need a spoon. Nothing specific when it comes to spoons. Get a color that matches your bar set. Gold, rose gold, silver. Does not matter, you do you 🙂 This is the mixing spoon we use

Strainer

Another necessity when it comes to the mixing glass route. I like a strainer that has a round handle and some weight to it. As for color this is another area where you can mix and match with your other tools. This is the one we use

Jigger:

These are confusing because they come in all different sizes. Some pour only single sizes others have 2 sizes. Our jigger is 4.5 cl on one side and 2 cl on the other side. 4.5 cl = 1.5oz and 2cl = .67oz. As to why the smaller side is not half of the larger side I am not sure? I like to measure cocktails not so much in ounces but parts so this keeps it simple for me and is scaleable across all jiggers.

When it comes to Jiggers ours has a handle on it and I find it really awkward to pour and keep it standing up. Our current Jigger came in a bar set that Gaby and I got for our wedding so we are in the market for a new one. Based on the research I have done this Jigger consistently gets the highest scores.

With that being said, it has a black rubber grip around the middle which is not the sleekest looking thing to have live on a bar cart. If you are going for a swanky looking bar cart and want a jigger that looks good while you mix I would go for this jigger

Lastly, if you have a shot glass, that will work perfectly fine when mixing cocktails, they are just a little more difficult to have a clean pour.

Bottle Opener

Gaby and I have gone through a million bottle openers. Our current favorite can be found here Another option we love is here on Amazon. Both openers have a solid weight to them and fit easily in your hand.

Shot Glasses – our go to shot glasses (we have 8)

Tequila Shot Glass – Our go to Tequila Shot Glass used for sipping not shooting (we have 8)

Snifter – This is the go-to for sipping the aged tequilas and scotches.

Old Fashion Glass – we use these for a variety of cocktails such as sipping scotch, bourbon, and tequila along with Margaritas and Vodka strawberry lemonades not just old fashions (we have 6 of these)

High Ball Glass – We use these for cocktails that contain a large proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer, and are poured over ice like G&T’s, Pimms Cups, or Mojitos: (we have 8 of these)

Coupe Glass -Our go to for champagne. I like these much better than champagne flutes because it allows for them to breath better and open up a bit more: (we have 8 of these)

Decanter: these serve two purposes:

  1. The first is to remove the sediment from the wine. Sediment impacts the flavor and can be found in older more tannic wines.
  2. The second reason is to allow air into the wine which lets it open up and release Hydrogen Sulfide (sulfur scents) after just opening. Note that wine can open up to much, so it’s a fun balancing game to play while enjoying.

Booze

Bourbon/Whiskey:
A good burn with high proof. The crazy thing with Bourbon is that its not super expensive compared to other higher priced boozes out there.

  1. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof won Whiskey of the Year in 2017. Its also around 124 proof so it packs a punch. You feel the burn of the booze but its super smooth and delicious.
  2. Michters Kentucky Straight Rye: 84 proof. Spice with peppery notes, citrus, butterscotch, and oak.
  3. Aged Japanese Whiskey- If you can get your hands on any aged Japanese Whiskey do it. They are currently playing catchup because this stuff was so popular and they sold out. Favorite brands are Yamazaki, Hibiki, Hakushu, and Nikka. Nikka coffey grain is readily available and delicious.

Scotch:
There are so many amazing scotches out there. Scotch was my go to sit down “fancy drink” until I discovered Tequila which is now my primary sipper. With that being said you can’t go wrong with Macallan 12. Not crazy expensive and a smooth delicious scotch. Fruity notes with a nice spice finish. Not overly smokey which is my preferred flavor profile. I tend to avoid the more peaty or smokey scotches.

Gin:
Monkey 47 is our go to Gin. It has subtle citrus notes but leans to be more floral in flavor profile and not super Junipery. Mixed with the London Essence original tonic water and a slice of grapefruit and you have an all time G&T. Side note, if anyone can find London Essence Original Tonic water in the states please let me know.

Tequila:
This is my go to spirit. Used to hate it, now I love it. Once I was taught to sip aged tequila like a nice scotch I instantly became a huge fan. Our “house” tequila for mixing is Casamigos Blanco. I have a variety of sipping tequilas I will enjoy depending on the situation.

  1. Casamigos Anejo is my everyday sipper.
  2. Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia was the first extra anejo tequila I had and is absolutely delicious. It is aged for 3 years and blended with 30 year old tequila from the Cuervo family’s private reserve. Flavor wise it is a mellow flavor with floral, vanilla, cognac notes toward the finish. 
  3. Dos Artes Extra Anejo is my current favorite tequila. Beautiful bottle, super smooth and notes of caramel and vanilla. Absolutely delicious.
  4. Casa Dragones Joven we break out for super special occasions. Its a blend of blanco tequila and extra anejo that has been filtered to be clear. One of the most delicious tequilas I have ever had. We will break out this bottle to sip on for very special occasions. Vanilla notes with a pear like finish.

Rum:
Rum is starting to get more popular with Tiki drinks making a comeback. Gaby and I recently got introduced to Ten to One Rum and its delicious. The white rum is has flavors of banana and pineapple, with a touch of peppery spice. The dark rum has similar notes to the white but of like a grilled pineapple and butterscotch finish.

Vodka:
Cant really go wrong with Grey Goose or Belvedere. Pretty straight forward here. Our vodka lives in the freezer not on the bar cart.

Bar Cart 101 from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Apéritifs

Aperol: Gaby’s go to for her spritz, not much more needs to be said here.

Compari: Needed for negronis and Milano-Torinos. Runs a little bitter but perfect in so many cocktails.

Other Mixing Essentails:

Sweet Vermouth: Needed for Manhattans, Negronis, Vermouth Spritzs,

Dry Vermouth: Vodka and Gin Martinis

Angostura Bitters: Needed for Old Fashions, Manhattans, and so many other cocktails.

Mixers:

Bundaberg Ginger Beer for Moscow Mules.

Topo Chico or any other sparkling water

Tonic Water, again if anyone knows where to get London Essence Original Tonic water in the states please let me know

And of course the WGC Strawberry Lemonade Cocktail Mix, Blood Orange Peach Spritz Cocktail Mix and Bloody Mary Cocktail Mix to round it all out!

Ice Cube Trays: Big Cubes for Scotch Small Cubes for the High Ball Cocktails.

Now that you know how to stock a bar cart, it’s time to make some cocktails. These are our go-to favorites:

  1. Cocktail Recipe Index Page
  2. Skinny Margarita
  3. Crushed Blackberry Moscow Mules
  4. Bloody Maria
  5. Spiked Pink Lemonade

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8 comments

  1. Moriah

    Yes, Thomas! Two thumbs up for Japanese Whiskey list. And like you said, folks, if you can find it – get it! You will not be disappointed. Thank you for sharing.

  2. cat

    Great work, Thomas!

    Something that I recently learned and people could benefit from knowing is that Aperol and all vermouths should be refrigerated after opening. Thanks for the bar cart lesson!

    • MW Atkins

      Aperol doesn’t need to be refrigerated because it’s spirits based. Vermouths are wine based and should be refrigerated.

  3. Scarlet

    I’ve been working on my bar cart recently so this was great!

    • Gaby

      So fun!! This has been one of Thomas’ projects for years. It’s been so cool to learn so many different things along the way

  4. Casey

    wow love this! I LOVE the idea of storing the glasses on a tray. I have been trying to figure out a system for keeping my “bar glasses” separate from our regular juice/water glasses and the tray is perfect and looks so nice!

  5. Nicole

    I’ve been on the hunt for a bar cart for our new place for a while. I can’t wait to style it. Thanks for the tips.

    We love love Monkey 47 as well although tend to other gins for mixing. We use the Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic which has a lovely taste combined with the botanicals in the Monkey 47. Highly recommend! We first tried in a great pub in Oxford.