How to Stock Your Bar Cart


Written by: Gary Faust, Hi-Time Wine Cellars Photographed by: Aaron Shintaku and Ryan Haack, Foxes & Wolves Location: Habana, Costa Mesa Bartender: Matt Baterna Illustration: Arturo Jimenez Makeup by: Debra Johnson Hair by: Michelle Ranney Styled by: Francisco and Eddie Barragan of Style by F.E.A. Models: Christine Barraco, Caitlin Calhoun and Kortnie Nichole

Bar Cart Orange County


ith the holiday season upon us, our minds turn to spending time with family and friends. This is a time for celebrating, sharing and creating memories. As the New Year approaches, it is also a time of renewal and the eternal optimism of fresh beginnings. It’s no wonder this time of year boasts so many parties and more people have opted to use a bar cart as a focal point for their festivities. This classic is again widely available as hipsters, mixologists and those who enjoy entertaining at home have embraced this serving platform, which is as eye-catching as it is practical. Whether you choose a stand-alone cart or the increasingly popular wall-mounted style, we have suggestions for how to stock your bar cart.

Bar Cart Orange County

From left to right. Christine: Dress, Huxley + Harper. Shoes, Bebe. Earrings, Rampage. Matt: Jacket, Zara. Shirt, Asos. Pants, Asos. Tie, Penguin. Kortnie: Dress + Jewelry, Huxley + Harper. Shoes, Bebe. Caitlin: Dress, Huxley + Harper. Earrings, Macy’s. Shoes, Forever 21.

THE LIQUOR Bar Cart Orange County

A well-stocked bar cart should contain the spirits needed to make most classic cocktails. Some may choose to invest in higher-end liquors if most of their drinks will be served neat or on the rocks. For those whose tastes are more cocktail-centric, the added ingredients or modifiers will be the most important factor. In this case, purchasing mid-priced liquor may make better sense. Bar Cart Orange County

Vodka: Neutral in flavor and aroma, good vodka is all about texture and smoothness and is the perfect partner for a myriad of mixers and ingredients.

Gin: The basis of most Martini’s as well as a host of many other popular drinks. Think of gin as vodka infused with botanicals resulting in varying aromatics depending on the ingredients used by the producer. Bar Cart Orange County

Whiskey: You may actually want to have a few different styles on hand. Some prefer Rye or Bourbon while other’s idea of Whiskey is Scotch.

Rum: The best bet for mixing most cocktails is white rum which is generally versatile and affordable. A quality sipping rum can also be a nice addition, especially if cigars are on the agenda. Bar Cart Orange County

Tequila: This distinctive liquor distilled from agave has earned a seat at the table, especially in Southern California with its ubiquitous Mexican restaurants and Margaritas served in seemingly endless varieties. As with rum, the Blanco (clear) is a good choice for mixing in cocktails.

Vermouth: This fortified wine is instrumental in contributing to the flavors of Martinis, Manhattans and Negronis. Most opt for a dry version of this barkeeper’s staple, but sweet Vermouth is also used for a variety of drinks. Keep in mind that Vermouth needs refrigeration.

Bar Cart Orange County
Left to right. Kortnie: Jumper, Huxley + Harper. Shoes, Steve Madden. Christine: White bodysuit, Huxley + Harper. Skirt, Showpo. Shoes, Evaluna. Earrings, Steve Madden. Caitlin: Dress, Huxley + Harper. Shoes, Evaluna.

PICK A THEME Bar Cart Orange County

Partygoers love a reason to dress up so encourage guests to don thematic-inspired attire. As an example, we chose Havana Nights as inspiration as the passion and liveliness of the people lend themselves to a great time. With So Cal’s temperate climate, a Havana or Latin American themed party is always in season. Whatever you choose, splashes of color in attire, decorations and drinks help create an atmosphere where guests can let down their hair and socialize.


Now that you have a theme in mind, pick two or three drinks to complement it. Any more than that needlessly complicates matters, and most will be thrilled to try something new or your version of an old standard. Now stock your bar cart according to that theme. In this case, less is definitely more, and you can always make wine and beer available for those who don’t want cocktails. Most will opt for your signature drinks, but a few will invariably prefer beer or wine.

Well-crafted drinks and music fuel a good time and help create an atmosphere where guests can relax and enjoy themselves. Practice making the drinks beforehand in the name of research and development and don’t be afraid to tweak the recipes a bit according to your likes. By the time the party rolls around, you will be able to impress with your expertise and will have enjoyed terrific cocktails along the way. Enjoy!!

Bar Cart Orange County
Left to right. Christine: Dress, Showpo. Shoes, Shoedazzle. Matt: Shirt + Vest + Pants, Asos. Tie, Penguin. Kortnie: Dress, Huxley + Harper. Shoes, Free People.

The accoutrements necessary for a bar cart include some basics which can vary quite a bit in price and quality but fortunately are a one-time expense. You don’t have to buy the most expensive, but well-made barware will reward you with many pleasure-filled cocktails.

1. Shaker: A definite “need” for anyone aspiring to make quality drinks. Primarily used for mixing and chilling down cocktails, this is indispensable. There are two basic types including the cobbler which many first-timers opt for. This consists of a large metal mixing tin, a metal lid with a built-in strainer and a smaller metal cap to cover the strainer. These are simpler to use as they incorporate a strainer. The downside is they tend to get stuck and can be difficult to separate once cooled down with ice. Bar Cart Orange County

A NOTE ON SHAKERS: Most bartenders in the industry instead opt for the Boston shaker which consists of a thick mixing glass and a slightly larger metal tumbler. The Boston shaker has no built-in strainer, which is required to keep the ice in the tin while pouring the drink.

2. Strainer: This metal bar accessory is used to get your work of art into a cocktail glass sans ice!The Hawthorne strainer with the coiled metal springs is the standard. Bar Cart Orange County

3. Jigger: This small hourglass-shaped device is essential for ensuring a cocktail is balanced with the right ratio of spirits to mixers.

4. Muddler: The rise of mixologists using high quality, fresh ingredients has made the muddling tool an essential part of the repertoire. Choose a high quality, food grade muddler made of plastic which is easier to clean and keep sanitary.

5. Bar Spoon: This long spoon will ensure all the ingredients are properly stirred when not shaken!

6. Ice Bucket: As ice is an important component of most drinks, having an appropriately sized bucket of ice conveniently located on one’s cart is a great idea. Molds are available to make the “perfect” shaped ice cubes. Bar Cart Orange County

7. Glassware: At a minimum, two sizes of glassware are preferable. Most cocktails work well in the versatile highball or Collins glass. Drinks built in the glass served neat or on ice are great fits for the lowball or rocks glass. The coupe cocktail glass is an additional choice suitable for Martinis, and other drinks shaken or stirred, but served without ice. Allegedly made in the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breast, this glass can also be used for champagne service.

Once you have the basics on hand, you can customize your bar cart according to the need for a specific occasion. Many times, it is preferable to narrow the focus of items in the cart for a particular event or party. Bar Cart Orange County


Looking where to get your bar cart from? Your local antique stores are a great source for vintage carts.

Don’t have space? Opt for a wall-mounted libation station from Sean Woolsey.

Jacket: Zara, Shirt: Asos, Pants: Asos, Tie: Penguin.


Think Fresh! Fresh ingredients really make the drink. Increased aromatics and intensity of flavor are the reward for choosing fresh fruit, veggies and herbs from the local store, farmer’s market or your own garden!

Prepping Beforehand is Key. For example, if Mojito’s are being offered, place your cut lime, fresh mint and simple syrup in a highball glass ahead of time. When it’s time to make the drinks, simply muddle those ingredients and add rum, soda water and ice before shaking and straining. This blending of craft and speed allows you to focus on other tasks! Bar Cart Orange County

Ice is Your Best Friend. Underappreciated but vitally important, this ingredient works best when the cubes (not slivers of ice from your ice maker) are not too big or small – think Goldilocks and the three bears. Cooling down the ingredients without diluting results in a refreshing, fl avorful cocktail.


Try one of these 3 delicious cocktail recipes courtesy of Habana, perfect for a Cuban or Latin-American inspired party.


• 1⁄2 lime
• Pinch of fresh mint
• Simple syrup
• Bacardi Rum
• Soda water

1. Muddle mint, lime and simple syrup
2. Add ice and Bacardi
3. Top with soda water


• 1 cucumber slice
• Pinch of cilantro
• 1 pineapple slice
• Mezcal
• Ancho chile
• Lemon juice

1. Muddle cucumber, cilantro and pineapple
2. Add Mezcal, ancho and lemon
3. Shake
4. Rim Collins or highball glass with spicy salt


• Fresh squeezed blood oranges
• Fresh squeezed lemons
• Fresh squeezed grapefruit
• Grapefruit beer
• Basil
• Tequila

1. Combine equal parts juice over ice with Tequila and shake!
2. Top with grapefruit beer and basil leaf Bar Cart Orange County

Habana, located at The LAB: 2930 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, AND The Irvine Spectrum: 708 Spectrum Center Dr, Irvine

Related Posts