How to Style Your Affordable Bar Cart

Moving into my first apartment sans roommates, there were a few things I prioritized: cozy/mid-century vibe, new cookware, and a chic bar cart. Seriously, I think my parents were disturbed by the fact that I was more concerned about a bar cart than a dining room table. (Don't worry, I have one of those, too.) A nice bar cart just screams "adult" and "Pinterest" to me—two things that are probably important to you, too!

Whether you're having people over for Thanksgiving or throwing a holiday soirée in December, there's still time to ensure your bar cart is fashionably on-point. Check out my bar cart tips and tricks to impress your guests and serve up drinks in style.

The Cart

If you don't have a bar cart, it's time to get one! You can find chic, affordable options at places like HomeGoods, At Home, and, of course, IKEA. My bar cart is a classic, simple version from IKEA. For $149, it is spacious, useful, and sleek. I wanted a fresh canvas to really make my own, but there are plenty of other options out there, including gilded, glass-top carts and rustic, wooden carts. Find the one that fits your decorating scheme and personality best!

Grundtal Kitchen Cart from your favorite Swedes.

The Booze

I recommend keeping a nice variety of alcohol on your bar cart but don't overcrowd it. An easy trick is to feature the ingredients for 2-3 of your favorite cocktails. Looking at my cart, you might be able to figure out my two favorite cocktails: Manhattan and Negroni. Here's what I have:
  • Crown Royal Canadian Whisky
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Martini Rosso Vermouth
  • Martini Extra Dry Vermouth
  • Campari
  • Wigle Organic Ginever
  • Grand Marnier
  • Christian Brothers Apple Brandy for my Fall sangria recipe
TIP: You want your cart to look curated, not crowded. Pick a few of your favorite cocktails to feature.

Care for a drink?

If yours includes a rack feature, feel free to use that for a few bottles of wine while you store your main collection in a wine fridge and/or larger wine rack. Likewise, you can stash extra bottles of hard liquor in a cabinet.

The Accessories

The booze is critical but the accessories make the cart. After you add your details, edit a few out. I realized my bar cart was getting a little out of control when it started to become a catchall for random alcohol-related objects. For example, I had an airplane-sized bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from nice flight attendants on one of my many trips home from D.C. While it was swell of them to give me free booze, the tiny bottle probably didn't need to be on top of my bar cart.
TIP: After you add details, remove 1-2. Now you have the perfect amount.
On the top, I have rose glasses from West Elm; a tiny, gold cat; a few bottle stoppers; a wine-scented candle; and a small globe on a pedestal. I have globes all over my apartment so this helps to tie the cart to the rest of my decor. Things like shot glasses, extra bottle stoppers, and corkscrews are tucked away in the drawer below the top shelf.

Full of boozey fun but not overdone.

The Useful Things

While I keep my quality stemware safely tucked away where the cat can't mess with it, I like to have a few glasses and useful objects within reach, too. First and foremost, I keep coasters and cocktail napkins handy because I have a stark white dining room table that isn't asking for red wine stains.
TIP: Prevent table rings with attractive coasters and cocktail napkins for your guests.
Second, it's nice to showcase functional items from your friends and travels. Since my friends know I love wine, they have given me playful wine glasses that I like to keep out to remind me of them. Plus, everyone likes to see their gifts on display! I also have things like a wine decanter from my mom, a New Belgium growler from my first trip to Colorado, an Arsenal Cider House growler from a local cidery, and a genuine German beer mug that may or may not have fallen into my sister's purse at a beer garden in Berlin. (She's great at gift giving, that's for sure!)

Easy-to-grab glasses, napkins, and coasters tucked under the wine rack.

These useful objects all tell their own story!

Do you have a bar cart? Share your pictures on Instagram and tag @megandmerlot!