Bar Cart Essentials For The Perfect At-Home Happy Hour

Photo Credit: Arina P Habich/Shutterstock


Did you know November 12 is National Happy Hour Day? Of course, it’s easy to go to your neighborhood watering hole to celebrate, but it’s just as simple to host a perfect happy hour at home if you’ve got the right setup. Thanks to shows like Mad Men, home bar carts have made a comeback — especially since we’ve spent a large chunk of time at home in the last two years. 

Bar carts evolved from tea trolleys used during afternoon tea service in the late 19th century and hit their peak of popularity as a staple in homes in the 1950s after the Great Depression, when everyone was ready to party and let loose. Over time they fell out of use as people created wet bars at home or lived close enough to bars and restaurants that they were entertaining at home less and less. But just as most trends go, the bar cart is coming back around and finding new life as a centerpiece in many homes.

Once your bar cart is set up with the essentials, it makes happy hour at home a total breeze. Here are five easy steps to setting up your bar cart.

Step 1: Get a bar cart

These days bar carts are fairly easy to find at stores like West Elm, Crate & Barrel, and even Amazon. Want something a bit more vintage? Scope out thrift stores, garage sales, or estate sales. While you’re at it, consider grabbing a cocktail book or two: They not only help you create great drinks, but they make for stylish decor. Check out the latest from award-winning bar Death & Co.: Modern Classic Cocktails or The Japanese Art of the Cocktail

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Tools

We just recently launched our gold barware line. We also offer sets in stainless steel and copper finishes! 

Other tools to get:

  • Brass Monkey "It’s What’s Inside That Counts" Pocket Flask, $18,  Amazon
  • Brass Monkey Designated Drinker Lowball Glass, $15,  Amazon
  • Brass Monkey Bar None Drinking Journal, $15,  Neiman Marcus 
  • Brass Monkey Booze Clues Drinking Game Set, $25,  Amazon
  • Brass Monkey Recipe Cocktail Shaker, $30,  Amazon
  • M.M.LaFleur Leather Coaster Set, $65, Rakuten and Skimlinks

Step 3: Gather Spirits 

Start with rum, vodka, anad whiskey.

Step 4: Modifiers

These are your liqueurs, simple syrup, and bitters. Nickel Dime Syrups are a line of craft cocktail syrups created by a bartender to bring mixologist-quality cocktails to the home bartender with all-natural ingredients. Bonus: They also make great mocktails. Their sampler package is an ideal stocking stuffer. 

The Nickel Dime Cocktail Syrups portfolio includes:

Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup (tamarind, cardamom, and ghost pepper)   

Fairy Dust Cocktail Syrup (fennel, anise, and wormwood) 

Cherry Bomb Cocktail Syrup (cherry, coffee, and cacao)  

Crimson Smoke Cocktail Syrup (smoked tea, cranberry, and honey)  

SKORDO's It's Five O'Clock Somewhere Set is a great addition to any mixologist's kitchen, these ingredients will get you trying new and unique cocktails. The set contains 1/4 cup jars of Chile Lime Sea Salt, Posy Sugar, Wild Blueberry Sugar, French Lavender, Hibiscus Petals, Rosebuds + Petals, Green Cardamom Pods, Makrut Lime Leaves, and Star Anise.

Step 5: Glassware

From the whiskey whistlers to those who enjoy a Champagne toast, Leeway Home’s practical yet sophisticated glassware kits provides the perfect selection of cocktail glasses for any occasion, without the hefty price tag. No matter your imbibe of choice, Leeway Home founders Sam and Lyle understand what makes the cocktail is the glass itself. That’s why they’ve created accessible, versatile (and dishwasher-safe!) glassware (sets of four), whether you're gifting a bar cart beginner or a cocktail connoisseur:

  • The Flute Glass (Set of 4/$60): There’s always something to celebrate. Pair sparkling wine with sparkling conversation (and a sparkling glass), and you’ve got the perfect toast. 
  • The Leeway Glass (Set of 4/$45): For everyday sipping (cocktail or mocktail) on the rocks..
  • The Wine Glass (Set of 4/$60): Whether you’re hosting dinner for one or four, a glass (or two) of wine is in order. Simple yet sophisticated — a bar cart and dinner table staple. 
  • The Coupe Glass (Set of 4/$60): Everyone’s favorite multifunctional cocktail glass (drinks or shrimp, no rules here.) Now is the time to try your hand at perfecting the trendy espresso martini!
  • The Tall Glass (Set of 4/($50): This highball glass equivalent is for a well-deserved tall drink after a long day.
  • The Just Glasses Add-on (Set of 8/$95): The essentials for any beverage, the Just Glasses Add-on brings it back to the entertaining basics. Includes four each of Leeway's stemless shapes, Leeway and Tall.

Bring the spirit of the Roaring Twenties and add a touch of elegance to any home bar with a set of four Art Deco Champagne flutes ($98) from Olive & Cocoa. This exquisite glassware features uniquely etched patterns to make every toast a memorable celebration. Each 6 oz. flute measures approximately 10" tall and the set of four arrives packaged in Olive & Cocoa gift wrap with ribbon.

Want more? Check out JCPenney’s Bar Cart Essentials:

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