The real secret to being the best host on the block

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Fully Set Bar Cart
Credit: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Lydia Pursell

A sign of a good hostess is a well-stocked (and stylish) bar cart. This piece of furniture is not only functional but a great way to express your personal style in a small space. From a screened porch to an outside deck or even an empty space between the living room and dining room, a bar cart can provide compact mobility, function, and flair to any area.

The fun part about bar carts is seeing how people decide to decorate them. Whiskey connoisseurs will have highball glasses and decanters, while the mixologist may have several shakers, jiggers, and cocktail spoons. You don't have to be an expert on cocktails, or even drink alcohol, to set up a cute bar cart. A bar cart can even just be stocked with your go-to seltzer flavor and glass soda bottles.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when selecting the right bar cart and all the accessories to top it off.

1. Choose the Cart

Consider, first and foremost, the material that's right for you. Finding a cart that best fits your needs as a hostess is key to using it regularly. If you plan to use your cart outdoors, choose something that can stand up to the weather—rattan, bamboo, metals, and woods like acacia are all good options. Bar carts that feature useful additions such as wheels, bottle holders, and multiple shelves can come in handy inside or out.

Vadnais Rectangular Cart
Sally Black Metal Frame Cart
Maliza Cart
Left: Credit: Wayfair
Center: Credit: Home Depot
Right: Credit: Wayfair

BAR CARTS

a. Vadnais 2-Tier Rectangular Bar Cart, $217.99; wayfair.com

b. Sally 2-Tiered Black Metal Frame Glass Rolling Bar Cart, $183.92; homedepot.com

c. Maliza Bar Cart, $272.99; wayfair.com

2. Stock Up

Serve style alongside spirits with a stunning set of drinkware (shatterproof options are great for outdoor use) combined with a few practical bar tools and accessories. Here are some of our favorite picks.

malcolm-glassware-set-of-6
coupe-cocktail-9-oz-glass-s-4
serax-copper-carafe
Left: Credit: West Elm
Center: Credit: Crate and Barrel
Right: Credit: West Elm

DRINKWARE

a. Malcolm Glassware, $48; westelm.com

b. Coupe Cocktail Glasses, Set of 4, $34.95; crateandbarrel.com

c. Serax Copper Glassware, $108; westelm.com

stainless steel cocktail set
chelsea-barware-brass-tray
barret-bar-tools
Left: Credit: Amazon
Center: Credit: West Elm
Right: Credit: West Elm

BAR TOOLS and ACCESSORIES

a. Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker Set with Bamboo Stand, $27.99; amazon.com

b. Chelsea Barware Ice Bucket, $70; westelm.com

c. Barret Set of 4 Pink Quartz Bar Tools, $80; westelm.com

3. Bring on the Booze

Reserve space on your cart only for bottles that are used frequently or worthy of display. Choose ones in varying heights and colors for interest—and don't underestimate the elevated packaging of artisanal mixers.

4. Finish It Off

Fill a glass carafe with fruit-infused or sparkling water for an attractive non-alcoholic option. It's convenient to keep your bar cart close to the kitchen so that you can easily top off your ice bucket or grab garnishes and other ingredients that need to be kept in the fridge. Coasters, small potted herbs (like mint and basil), cocktail napkins, and paper straws are easy, practical additions. Use trays to corral similar items, such as glasses and mixers. This will also keep things visually pleasing. To give your bar cart an extra boost of color, consider lining the shelves with cloth placemats or outdoor fabric. Bonus: They will protect from spills. For anything that does end up spilling, keep a tea or dish towel tied to one end of your cart.

cane-recycled-drinkware-collection-o
strained pitcher
Left: Credit: Pottery Barn
Right: Credit: Amazon

CARAFES and PITCHERS

a. Cane Recycled Glass Pitcher, $48; potterybarn.com

b. Glass Pitcher with Stainless Steel Lid $19.99; amazon.com

white-marble-coasters
Enamel Serving Tray
tava-handwoven-rattan-round-coasters-with-holder-o
Left: Credit: Pottery Barn
Center: Credit: Anthropologie
Right: Credit: Pottery Barn

COASTERS and TRAYS

a. White Marble Coasters, Set of 4, $29.50; potterybarn.com

b. Enamel Iron Serving Tray, $34; anthroplogie.com

c. Tava Handwoven Rattan Round Coasters with Holder, $49; potterybarn.com

ginger jar cocktail napkin
tea towels
SuitsLinenCocktailNpkn
Left: Credit: Amazon
Center: Credit: Amazon
Right: Credit: Crate and Barrel

TEA TOWELS and COCKTAIL NAPKINS

a. Rosanne Beck Collections Cocktail Paper Napkins, $5.90; amazon.com

b. Set of 3 Tea Towels, $16.99; amazon.com

c. Suits Navy Linen Cocktail Napkins, Set of 4, $18.95; crateandbarrel.com

Now it's time to get the cart set and serve up your favorite cocktail. You'll have your guests thinking you're a professional mixologist with your stylish and well-stocked bar cart.