So you’ve jumped on the bandwagon and acquired a swanky new bar cart for your home or apartment. Here’s how to equip it with the necessities, whether you’ll be imbibing alone or are planning to host a cocktail soiree to show off your portable bar.
Stock Up on Base Spirits
Because space is limited on a cart, it makes sense to purchase just a handful of spirits that will serve as a base for a wide range of cocktails. Most bar owners will want to start with at least one type of vodka, gin, and tequila, and perhaps add in rum and whiskey for additional variety. All of these spirits work well on their own or with simple mixers, yet they are also the key ingredients in today’s most popular cocktails. After all, you can’t make the perfect Moscow Mule without vodka on hand. When possible, don’t skimp on quality. Buying the best bottles you can afford will ensure you’re building your cocktails around a solid foundation.
Pick Up Some Key Mixers
While there is a seemingly endless option of mixers you could supply your cart with, you can’t cram all of them onto a cart. That’s why concentrating on a handful of key ingredients is a smart idea. Club soda and tonic water are a must; ginger ale, cola, and a lemon-lime soda will also come in handy, but you’ll likely have those in your fridge to save room on your bar cart. Juices are also wise to have, whether they be canned or fresh. Lemon, lime, and orange juices are good to start with, while pineapple, cranberry, grapefruit, and tomato can be useful, too.
For more variety or to suit fancier tastes, liqueurs such as amaretto, Irish cream, or triple sec are excellent options. Sour mix, simple syrup, and grenadine feature in many cocktails and will make good additions to your cart. If space permits, complete your selection of add-ins with Worcestershire, Tabasco, and bitters.
Get the Right Tools
The best spirits and mixers in the world won’t prepare themselves, so you’ll need some basic tools on your cart. An ice bucket is key; it will save you from making frequent trips to the freezer. You’ll want to be sure to have a shaker or two, as well as some jiggers or shot glasses to ensure proper measuring for consistent cocktails. A muddler will help mash up any fruits and spices that serve as a base for your recipes, while a citrus press is handy for squeezing fresh juice into your jigger or for topping off a drink. Don’t forget a tall bar spoon, which is useful when it comes to preparing drinks that are better stirred than shaken. Last, but not least, be sure to have plenty of cocktail napkins on hand, for both tidiness and elegance.
Select a Range of Glassware
A cart that’s well-equipped to make drinks is useless if it doesn’t also feature the proper glassware for serving them. Assuming your cart is dedicated solely to cocktails and that your beer and wine offerings are being handled elsewhere, you can get by with three basic pieces: martini glasses for classic cocktails served without ice, highball glasses for tall pours, and rocks glasses for liquors served straight or with minimal ice. If you’ve got more room, add in margarita glasses and snifters to round out your service.
While the fun of having a bar cart is personalizing it to your taste, it’s always good to start with the basics. These tips should help get you started with what you’ll need to make a great variety of drinks.