Paula Garner's bar cart
Paula Garner, @thebitterfairy
Paula Garner's bar cart
CNN —  

With summer comes longer days and, if you’re like us, that means more time for pre-dinner cocktails (or mocktails!). For a killer at-home happy hour with friends, your bar cart setup can make a huge difference in creating the perfect ambiance for your guests. Not only are bar carts space-saving, but they’re versatile and portable so you can keep the party going no matter where you are in your home.

Besides stocking up on your favorite mixers and spirits, having the right accessories is extremely important when creating a functional and elegant bar cart. “The main objective is that your bar cart be pleasing to you,” says home mixologist Paula Garner, aka @thebitterfairy. “Whether that means it’s a shiny and wheeled modern piece, or a rustic repurposed table or cabinet. Whether it’s practical — that it holds the things you use most — or that it is beautiful or evocative. Maybe you’re drawn to unusual bottles, maybe you really want a place to feature that delightfully tacky hula girl lamp.”

From smokers to glassware to decanters, the sheer amount of accessories available can make stocking your bar cart feel daunting. Whether you’re looking for a sleek, modern look or something more industrial and rustic, we’ve got you covered with some of our favorite bar carts and accessories you’ll need to impress your guests at your next happy hour.

Gold bar carts

Laurence Bar Cart ($129.99, originally $239.99; wayfair.com)

Laurence Bar Cart
Wayfair
Laurence Bar Cart

With steel tubing and mirrored glass shelves, this modern design is perfect for a stylish setup.

Helix Bar Cart ($71.99, originally $99.99; wayfair.com)

Helix Bar Cart
Wayfair
Helix Bar Cart

If you’re looking for a more minimalist gold option, this design is the perfect mix between elegance and simplicity.

Better Homes & Gardens Fitzgerald 2-Tier Bar Cart, Gold ($79.93; walmart.com)

Better Homes & Gardens Fitzgerald 2-Tier Bar Cart
walmart
Better Homes & Gardens Fitzgerald 2-Tier Bar Cart

This sophisticated design boasts beautiful glass shelves and even provides three rings for bottle storage on the bottom.

Bar carts with wine racks

Lex Bar Cart ($81.99, originally $88.99; wayfair.com)

Lex Bar Cart
Wayfair
Lex Bar Cart

This bar cart is made to provide ample storage space, featuring three stemware racks and five-bottle storage to keep your wine bottles on.

Tier Bar Cart ($219.99, originally $369.99; wayfair.com)

Tier Bar Cart
Wayfair
Tier Bar Cart

This elegant cart comes with four stemware racks, eight-bottle storage and a marble finish for a high-end look with tons of space for alcohol and accessories.

Holly & Martin Zephs Bar Cart ($152.18; walmart.com)

Holly & Martin Zephs Bar Cart
Walmart
Holly & Martin Zephs Bar Cart

For anyone looking for a contemporary model, this bar cart comes with four-bottle storage and four stemware racks in a sleek, multi-tiered design.

Outdoor bar carts

Best Choice Products Outdoor Rolling Wicker Bar Cart ($249.99; amazon.com)

Best Choice Products Outdoor Rolling Wicker Bar Cart
Amazon
Best Choice Products Outdoor Rolling Wicker Bar Cart

This versatile bar cart is a great addition to any patio, entertainment room or poolside. It’s made with a weather-resistant material, comes with a removable ice bucket and features wine glass holders so you can host the perfect outdoor happy hour.

Royal Gourmet Double-Shelf Movable Dining Cart Table ($105.88; amazon.com)

Royal Gourmet Double-Shelf Movable Dining Cart Table
Amazon
Royal Gourmet Double-Shelf Movable Dining Cart Table

This durable design provides simplicity and ease while serving guests outside, featuring a stainless steel cart table and ample storage space.

Origami Folding Kitchen Cart on Wheels ($169.99; amazon.com)

Origami Folding Kitchen Cart on Wheels
Amazon
Origami Folding Kitchen Cart on Wheels

This rolling cart is perfect for both outdoor and indoor use and folds flat for easy storage.

Three-tiered bar carts

Novogratz Cache Metal, Orange Rolling Cart ($52.81, originally $59.99; amazon.com)

Novogratz Cache Metal, Orange Rolling Cart
Amazon
Novogratz Cache Metal, Orange Rolling Cart

This metal cart’s orange finish is a fun, eye-catching addition to any room. It also comes in blue, mint and yellow.

Maliza Bar Cart ($285.99; wayfair.com)

Maliza Bar Cart
Wayfair
Maliza Bar Cart

If you’re looking for a larger option with more storage, this bar cart provides tons of storage and counter space to prepare cocktails or display your favorite accessories.

Better Homes & Gardens Crossmill Bar Cart ($139.99, originally $160.00; walmart.com)

Better Homes & Gardens Crossmill Bar Cart
Walmart
Better Homes & Gardens Crossmill Bar Cart

This multifunctional bar cart not only features three different shelves, but it also provides hanging racks and handles for additional storage and easy transportation.

Stocking your bar cart

Once you’ve selected your bar cart, it’s time to get it stocked. The absolute basics are simple, Garner says: a shaker, a strainer, something for measuring liquids and glassware. “It doesn’t have to be new or pricey, and it doesn’t even have to match — my collection is mostly single glasses — but you do want a darling coupe for those foamy sours and sturdy rocks glasses for a stirred drink or a neat pour,” she says.

Add more elements as you see fit — an ice bucket, spirits decanters, fancy tools, cute objects. “Let go of any notion of what a cocktail cart is supposed to look like and let yourself go rogue,” Garner says. “The best and most interesting collections of bar things are personal, the ones that spark your own creativity and pleasure.”

Bartending tools

Mixology Bartender Kit: 10-Piece Bar Tool Set ($75.99; amazon.com)

Mixology Bartender Kit: 10-Piece Bar Tool Set
Amazon
Mixology Bartender Kit: 10-Piece Bar Tool Set

If you’re just starting out, this tool set comes with everything you need to make delicious cocktails at home. The 10-piece kit even comes with a bamboo storage rack so you can display and organize it with ease.

Stainless Steel Bartender Mixing Spoons, 2-Pack ($5.99, originally $6.99; amazon.com)

Stainless Steel Bartender Mixing Spoons, 2-Pack
Amazon
Stainless Steel Bartender Mixing Spoons, 2-Pack

These mixing spoons are a fun addition to any bar cart, and the stainless steel design can work for virtually any cup you may own. These dishwasher-safe stirrers come in silver, black, gold, rose gold and even rainbow.

Clear Cocktail Shaker ($20.58, originally $23.49; wayfair.com)

Clear Cocktail Shaker
Wayfair
Clear Cocktail Shaker

While this may look like a regular shaker, it actually comes with six recipes on the bottle so you can make cocktails at home without a measuring cup. Plus, its leakproof seal on the lid ensures no spillage when bartending.

Zulay Stainless Steel Small Strainer ($8.99; amazon.com)

Zulay Stainless Steel Small Strainer
Amazon
Zulay Stainless Steel Small Strainer

A strainer is a must-have if you’re trying to create smooth drinks. This durable and long-lasting tool will strain your beverages efficiently, keeping ice, herbs and pulp out of your cocktails.

Oxo Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup, Mini, Clear ($4.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)

Oxo Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup, Mini, Clear
Bed Bath & Beyond
Oxo Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup, Mini, Clear

“Old-school jiggers are charming but not very precise, especially for smaller measures,” Garner says. That’s why she and numerous serious cocktailers prefer the Oxo small measuring cup.

Glassware

JoyJolt Afina Martini Glasses, Set of 4 ($16.10, originally $24.95; amazon.com)

JoyJolt Afina Martini Glasses, Set of 4
Amazon
JoyJolt Afina Martini Glasses, Set of 4

These modern martini glasses flaunt a heavy base, making them sturdier than traditional glasses.

Venero Crystal Whiskey Glasses ($29.97; amazon.com)

Venero Crystal Whiskey Glasses
Amazon
Venero Crystal Whiskey Glasses

If you want to impress your guests, check out these elegant yet unique twisted whiskey glasses.

Newmoon Crystal All-Purpose Wine Glasses, Set of 4 ($49.99; wayfair.com)

Newmoon Crystal All-Purpose Wine Glasses, Set of 4
Wayfair
Newmoon Crystal All-Purpose Wine Glasses, Set of 4

These wine glasses are both sleek and modern, and their distinctive silhouette is sure to be a favorite among all of your friends and family.

Party Glass Goblet, Set of 12 ($32.07; wayfair.com)

Party Glass Goblet, Set of 12
Wayfair
Party Glass Goblet, Set of 12

These classic and versatile goblets are the perfect shape and size for serving just about any beverage.

Miles 16-Piece Assorted Drinking Glass ($29.28, originally $34.99; wayfair.com)

Miles 16-Piece Assorted Drinking Glass
Wayfair
Miles 16-Piece Assorted Drinking Glass

Great for everyday use, these casually elegant glasses are both classic and durable. The set comes with eight short and eight tall glasses to suit all of your guests’ needs.

Bar cart decor

Ardax Gold Home Decor Balloon Figurine Accent ($14.99; amazon.com)

Ardax Gold Home Decor Balloon Figurine Accent
Amazon
Ardax Gold Home Decor Balloon Figurine Accent

These balloon dog sculptures are a chic yet fun addition to any bar cart and come in a number of colors, including gold, silver, blue and green.

‘The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World’s Great Drinks’ ($13.89; amazon.com)

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World's Great Drinks
Amazon
The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World's Great Drinks

Whether you’re just starting to dabble in mixology for the first time or looking for some cocktail inspiration, cocktail books are a stylish and useful tool to keep in your bar cart. This is one of Garner’s favorites.

‘The Art of Mixology: Classic Cocktails and Curious Concoctions’ ($11.08; amazon.com)

The Art of Mixology: Classic Cocktails and Curious Concoctions
Amazon
The Art of Mixology: Classic Cocktails and Curious Concoctions

This cocktail book is another great option that offers a multitude of recipes so you can impress your guests with unique concoctions.

Do or Drink Party Card Game ($29.95; amazon.com)

Do or Drink Party Card Game
Amazon
Do or Drink Party Card Game

Elevate your cocktail hour with this fun card game sure to get the party going and keep your guests entertained.

Ice buckets

Tablecraft Galvanized Oval Beverage Tub ($22.99, originally $40.12; amazon.com)

Tablecraft Galvanized Oval Beverage Tub
Amazon
Tablecraft Galvanized Oval Beverage Tub

If you’re trying to keep a lot of bottles cold at once, this beverage tub will do just the trick. This design comes with handles for easy transport and is perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.

3L Stainless Steel Ice Bucket With Tongs, Gold ($19.99; target.com)

3L Stainless Steel Ice Bucket With Tongs, Gold
Target
3L Stainless Steel Ice Bucket With Tongs, Gold

This golden finish adds a unique look that’s different from traditional silver ice buckets.

Double-Wall Stainless Steel Insulated Ice Bucket ($29.99; amazon.com)

Double-Wall Stainless Steel Insulated Ice Bucket
Amazon
Double-Wall Stainless Steel Insulated Ice Bucket

This ice bucket’s double-wall insulation will ensure that your drinks stay colder longer.

Decanters

Twist Decanter (starting at $25; uncommongoods.com)

Twist Decanter
Uncommon Goods
Twist Decanter

Decanters are perfect for both wine aeration and showcasing your spirits in an elegant way. This eye-catching design is sure to be a conversation starter!

Wine Decanter Chiller Set With Ice Bucket ($44.95; amazon.com)