How To Stock The Bar

Bring back happy hour by creating an impromptu bar that's fit for Don Draper.

When it comes to entertaining, a properly stocked bar cart can work wonders. Whether you're having friends over for a cocktail before dinner or you're hosting a holiday party, these tips from Senior Homes Editor Zoë Gowen make styling a bar a cinch.

Find the Right Spot
Look for a sturdy piece of furniture with enough room around it to allow people to congregate while pouring drinks. Then choose a tray that works with your setting—wood, wicker, and silver are stylish options.

Gather the Essentials
On the tray, set out basic liquors (vodka, bourbon, scotch, and gin) and mixers (tonic water, club soda, and ginger ale) with pretty packaging. Add an ice bucket, a small bowl for lemons and limes, and a cup to hold stirrers. "Sprinkle in glass and silver items for a bit of sparkle," says designer Phoebe Howard.

Splurge on Beautiful Glasses
This is one area where a little decadence goes a long way. Guests love the feel of a fine old-fashioned glass in hand.

Make it Special
Bar trays set the mood for fun entertaining. The clink of the ice cubes, the stirring and shaking, and the flourish of a citrus twist evoke a bygone era when cocktail hour was a ritual that got extra attention and preparation. Keep a good recipe book on hand for fun new drink ideas to liven up every gathering.

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