The real secret to being the best host on the block

By Marisa Spyker
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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 cute) 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. 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, picking the right material. If using outdoors, choose something that can stand up to the weather—rattan, bamboo, woods like acacia, and metals are all good options. Bar carts that feature useful frills such as wheels, bottle holders, and multiple shelves can really come in handy inside or out.

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 (ice buckets are key on hot summer days). Use trays to corral similar items, such as glasses and mixers. This will also keep things visually pleasing. Here are some of our favorite picks.

Drinkware for Bar Cart

DRINKWARE

a. Thalia Stemless Wine Glasses, $48 for 4; anthropologie.com

b. Fortessa Jupiter Iced Beverage Glass, $8 each; surlatable.com

c. Seagrass-Wrapped Highball Glasses, $56 for 4; anthropologie.com

d. Barhorst 14 oz. Plastic Drinking Glass, $45 for 4; wayfair.com

Bar Tools for Bar Cart

BAR TOOLS and ACCESSORIES

a. Rattan and Stainless Steel Double Wall Ice Bucket, $59; wayfair.com

b. Harrison Bar Tool Set, $69; potterybarn.com

c. Hatch Cocktail Shaker, $20; crateandbarrel.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.

WATCH: Serve Up 3 Refreshing Summer Cocktails

4. Finish It Off

Fill a glass carafe with fruit-infused or sparkling water for an attractive nonalcoholic option. Coasters, small potted herbs (like mint and basil), cocktail napkins, and paper straws are easy, practical additions. To give your bar cart an extra boost of color, consider lining the shelves with cloth place mats 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.

Bar Cart Carafes and Pitches

CARAFES and PITCHERS

a. Libbey Impressions Glass Pitcher, $13; target.com

b. Vintage Etched Carafe, $30; williams-sonoma.com

c. Seagrass-Wrapped Pitcher, $42; anthropologie.com

d. La Rochere Lyonnais Carafe, $40; wayfair.com

Cocktail Napkins and Coasters for Bar Cart

COASTERS and COCKTAIL NAPKINS

a. Glass Coasters, $49 for 4; markandgraham.com

b. Scallop Edge Cocktail Napkins, $25 for 4; courtlandandco.com

c. Nito Coasters, $25 for 6; williams-sonoma.com

d. Vietri Papersoft Dot Cocktail Napkins, $8 for 20; onekingslane.com

Tea and Dish Towels for Bar Cart

TEA and DISH TOWELS

a. Meyer Lemon Towels, $20 for 2; williams-sonoma.com

b. Striped Dual Sided Terry Kitchen Towel, $3.50; target.com

c. Mimi Dish Towel, $18; anthropologie.com

d. Textured Terry Dish Towels, $13 for 2; crateandbarrel.com

Now it's time to get the cart set and serve up your favorite cocktail.