How to Choose a Bar Cart: Your Guide


How to Choose a Bar Cart

When it comes to entertaining guests in your home, there are many things you need to consider, such as where they will sit, what they will eat, and most importantly, what they will drink. This can leave you wanting to get a bar cart, but with so many on the market, you are wondering how you will choose the one that is best for you. 

Choosing a bar cart that is perfect for your home and your drink selection is no easy task, as there are many things you need to consider when choosing a bar cart. The price is important, but a bar cart fit into your home and lifestyle is just as crucial. If you want to avoid choosing the wrong bar cart, keep reading, as this article will give you some valuable insight on how to choose a bar cart that is perfect for you. 

How Do You Choose a Bar Cart?

Bar carts come in many varieties, from wood to metal, and some made of plastic. But besides just the material your bar cart is made out of, you also need to consider the space you want to fill, as well as the type of drinks you will be making with your bar cart. All of this will work together when it comes to selecting the bar cart that is right for you. 

But before you dive too deeply into the world of bar carts, it’s essential that you know the three basic rules that you should use when picking a bar cart. There are as follows;

Know How Much Space You Will Need

First and foremost, what are you planning to use your bar cart for? Is it just a drink station, or will you need the space to prep items like appetizers as well? The reason this is important is that if you are planning to place coffee supplies on your bar cart, you can get a much smaller cart than if you actually need the area to prep food items.

Besides just the space on the top, you also need to consider how many shelves you will need. Most bar carts come with the top surface, as well as one additional shelf, but some have two. You should also consider keeping your bar cart traditional. Then many liquor bottles are quite tall—meaning fewer shelves will be better for their storage. 

Additionally, you need to consider whether or not you want space to store glassware on your bar cart, as this is a very distinct style that will definitely play into your final decision when you go to purchase your bar cart. 

Know How Much Space You Have

Rule 2 is just as important as the first because while you may need the space to prepare items like drinks and appetizers, you may not have the room in your house or apartment for the bar cart that you want to get. 

So plan where you will put your bar cart. Put it somewhere where you will use it—whether in the kitchen, dining room, or living room. Then measure the area in the room where you want to put it. Measure both the length of the space, as well as how far out from the wall the bar car will reach—this way. You can ensure it won’t be blocking any walkways. 

Because most bar carts come on wheels, it is easy to move your bar cart when you want to use it. This step is just ensuring you have the proper place to store your bar cart when it isn’t in use. 

Picture How You Will Use It

Although this rule may be a bit silly, this can really help you to narrow down the style of your bar cart. For example, if you plan to entertain and want your bar cart to be able to be moved to the middle of the room and loaded with snacks, this will look much different than a coffee station bar cart that will remain against the wall in the kitchen with the coffee maker plugged in. 

The cool thing about bar carts is they can be both very fancy, as well as minimalistic, so much of the style you choose will remain up to you and your preferences—so keep this in mind while you shop! 

What is the Best Material for a Bar Cart?

Now that you have a better picture in your mind of what you may be looking for, it’s time to cover the materials that the bar carts are made out of and how they may be the right choice when it comes you your bar cart. 

Wood

Wood is a great material for a bar cart, and generally, those that are made out of wood can be used for either indoor or outdoor use—which isn’t true of all building materials. Wood can also add a nice aesthetic touch if you have a country or rustic-themed home and can be mixed with metals for a very professional look. 

When looking at wood bar carts, you will want to consider what the other wood in your home looks like. You don’t have to match, but a white wooden coffee table doesn’t compliment an antique wooden bar cart very well.

Wooden bar carts do tend to be a bit more pricey than other styles of bar carts, and they can also be quite bulky—taking up lots of space in your room. Some wooden bar carts may be more difficult to clean, so make sure you take all of these things into account when looking at wooden bar carts. 

Manufactured Wood

If you aren’t quite ready to take on a wooden bar cart just yet, then consider compromising and getting a manufactured wood bar cart. This material of bar cart is generally more affordable than solid wood, requires less maintenance, and is easier to clean. 

While you might save yourself money and time, manufactured wood bar carts don’t tend to be as durable as real wood. And you may find that some of these aren’t for outdoor use. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t find the manufactured wood bar cart of your dreams! Just be sure you read all the information about your manufactured wood bar cart, so there are no unpleasant surprises later. 

Glass

If you are dealing with an exceptionally small space but still really want a bar cart, then it might be time to look into a glass bar cart. Because they are mostly clear glass, they won’t look as bulky as most of the other bar carts on this list. 

This type of bar cart is the most delicate, though—probably not ideal for outside usage or storing heavy items like your Keurig. And you definitely can’t overload them with heavy bottles—but they will make a beautiful addition to any room you put them in! 

Metal

Metal is a very popular material for a bar cart. Not only is it affordable, but it is asl extremely durable and generally safe for both indoor and outdoor use. Metal bar carts tend to be more minimalistic, however, which could interfere with the aesthetic you are going for in your home. 

This is when where you plan to store your bar cart will come into play because if you plan to keep your bar cart in the kitchen and only pull it out for events, a metal bar cart may be just what you are looking for! But if you are looking for a statement piece for your sitting room, you’ll probably want to look at a bar cart made out of one of the other materials on the list. 

There are several different metal finishes, so don’t be afraid to shop around in this category a bit. Just be sure that any metal bar cart your purchase is coated in sealant—so you don’t have problems with corrosion. 

Stone

Surprisingly, the stone is a very popular material for bar carts. It is always mixed with other materials, typically metal, and is the most durable bar cart on the list. If you are looking for a bar cart to leave outside, a stone one really will be best as it offers weather resistance not experienced by any of the other bar carts.

Because stone is such a heavy material, bar carts made out of stone are generally smaller. If you were to make a large stone bar cart, it would be difficult to push. So if you are looking for a food preparation space, this bar cart is definitely not the one for you. 

Plastic

After all of the materials listed above, it may be a bit weird to think about putting a plastic bar cart in your living room, but there are some stunning plastic bar carts that look like glass or wood at a fraction of the price!  

Plastic bar carts are also ideal when it comes to storing things in your kitchen—after all, your guests generally aren’t in there anyway, and they are much more durable than some of the alternatives. 

How Sturdy Does a Bar Cart Need to Be?

No matter which material you choose to get your bar cart in, you need to make sure that the bar cart will withhold the weight you plan to put on it. Frequently, buyers go for a cheaper online version of a bar cart they see in a store, and when it arrives, they find it is of poor quality and cannot hold all the bottles they wish to keep on it. 

The best way to avoid this is by checking that your bar cart has reinforced struts and that any joints look solid and to be made of quality materials. You will also want to ensure that all pieces fit properly together before you load the bar cart with glassware—and cause a disaster. 

What Features Should You Consider in a Bar Cart?

By now, you should have a general idea of what material you want your bar cart to be made out of, so next, it is time to shop by the features you would like your bar cart to have. Below is an overview of the most commonly desired features of a bar cart. As you go through them, it may help make a list of all the features you decide you want your cart to have. 

Shelves

This was previously mentioned, but you should know at this point how many shelves you will need or want for your bar cart. You will also want to consider a bar cart with rails on the bottom shelves if you plan to move your cart a lot—to keep items from falling off. 

Wheels that Lock

Almost all bar carts have four wheels, and when this is the case, you risk your bar cart rolling away the minute it is bumped if the wheels don’t lock! Ensure that you get a cart with this feature, or if you don’t, that you have an alternative plan (like door stops) to use to keep the cart in place. 

You should also choose a cart that has wheels that you feel move with ease and that will work well on your floors. If you have an especially plush carpet in the room, you intend to keep your bar cart in. Then you will probably want thicker wheels. And if you are keeping your bar cart in a kitchen or area with hardware floors, then be sure the wheels are coated in rubber so they won’t damage your floors. 

Racks For Glasses

If you’re big on cocktails, you likely have a variety of wine, martini, and brandy glasses that you want to store on your bar cart. The problem is, these glasses can be quite top-heavy. This means they can fall over and break if they aren’t stored correctly. 

Some bar carts have built-in glass racks, which is a good idea for those with many stemware. But these carts can be more expensive, so if you choose a cheaper option without glass racks, then be sure to store your glasses upside-down to minimize the chances of breaking. 

Handles

Are you going to be moving your bar cart? Then you will need handles to do so. Most bar carts come with handles, but some come with those that are more decorative rather than efficient for moving. 

Also, be aware of the additional space handles take up, and the size of the bar cart—as this can make it impossible to fit your cart in the corner that you planned to keep it in! 

Drawers

Do you have lots of little bar accessories? Then you will probably want a bar cart with drawers. This will help you to keep those small items out of sight and keep you organized! Drawers take up space, though, so be sure there is still enough clearance for all your bottles on this type of setup. 

Countertop

This one may seem a bit obvious, but there are bar carts out there that don’t have a countertop for making drinks but rather glass storage. You will also want to be sure that the countertop offers sufficient space for all your drink-making supplies, so they are handy when you need them! 

Some countertops on bar carts have a lip—these can be helpful for keeping items from falling off the bar cart when you are moving it. But this lip can also mess with the aesthetic of your bar cart, so some people choose to do without. 

Cabinets

Some bar carts offer extended storage with the addition of cabinets. While this can be great when you want to store things on your cart, these carts typically don’t look all that great and aren’t ideal for moving since they are only accessible from one side. 

A bar cart with cabinets can be a stylish choice, however, especially when you are still working on building your bottles and glassware, so they may not look as great as a collection to display just yet. 

Where to Find a Bar Cart

As previously mentioned, many people find cheap bar carts online and decide that they must be a good deal. This is not necessarily true. When it comes to bar carts, you often get what you pay for, so a cheaper version of a bar cart online might be worse value than the one in the store because it might break right away. 

Generally, when shopping for a bar cart, you should go to a store where you can look at bar carts in person. This way, you can get a better idea of how they look, what they will feel like to move, and what all you can store on them. You don’t have to buy a bar cart right then and there, but write down the types and models that you like so you can be sure to purchase the right bar cart later. 

Can You Store Wine on a Bar Cart?

When you have a massive wine collection, you may want to keep a few bottles on your bar cart. And this is definitely a possibility because several bar carts have wine racks built-in. Of course, this can be difficult to add in later, so you will need to decide before you begin shopping for one. 

Can You Build Your Own Bar Cart?

In the world where DIY reigns supreme, you may be wondering if you can build your own bar cart for cheaper than the ones they have in the store. And while this is possible, unless you are experienced working with wood, it is probably better to just buy a bar cart. 

This is because it is possible that you could make the bar cart crooked, uneven, or not able to withstand the weight you want to put on it—therefore, it’s better to just buy one and save yourself the trouble and disappointment.

How Can You Decorate a Bar Cart?

If you are purchasing a bar cart but plan to use it infrequently as a bar and more as a decoration, this may have you asking how you should decorate it. In general, you will want to decorate your bar cart to fit in with your room’s decoration scheme, but you may also want to follow these suggestions. 

Start With the Bottles

You bought this cart to be a bar, right? Therefore you should place the bottles you planned to place on your cart before starting any other form of décor. If you have too many bottles, place the nicest looking ones on the cart and put the rest away in the panty. You should try to have a variety of bottles that have different heights for the best look. 

Get Some Tools

Those mixed drinks won’t be mixing themselves! Grab yourself a shaker tin, strainer, and any other materials you think you need to make drinks. These have a use, but they will also look great as décor for your bar cart. You can leave them lying on the countertop arranged nicely or place them into a cup or other decorative holder. 

Upgrade Your Glassware

If you don’t have nice glassware, it’s time to invest in some. And before you go out shopping, be sure that the glassware you plan to buy not only works for the drinks you want to make but also that it will fit on your bar cart with style. For example, if you have the upside-down glass racks on the lower level, grab some glasses to hang in them to complete the look! 

Also, if you have those little hooks on the side of your bar cart, these are perfect for copper mugs and other glassware that has a handle! 

Add Extra Touches

Now that your bar cart is loaded with the essentials, it is time to add the finishing touches. If your living room has a country farmhouse theme, then consider wrapping some ivy around the poles and countertop.  You can also add a mixology book, a decanter, or any other bar-themed item you wish.

If your bar cart is near a wall, and you plan to leave it there, you can even wrap a string of lights around your bar cart and turn off the overhead lights for a nice romantic night in. Basically, when it comes to extra touches—the sky is the limit! You can add all sorts of items to the bar top surface or wrap the poles in any style of décor you wish! 

Consider the Background

Chances are, you won’t be using your bar cart every day, and you will be storing it in the same place each time you aren’t using it. This is why you should take a minute or two to decorate the wall behind your bar cart. You can hang a painting, picture or even keep it in front of a window—whatever looks the best! 

This is a nice extra touch that will really draw attention to your beautiful bar cart while also helping it blend into your room at the same time. 

Should You Store Mixers on Your Bar Cart?

Now that you’ve got your bar cart loaded with glasses, booze, and utensils, you may be wondering if you should store the mixers there as well. And typically, the answer is no. This is because most mixers need to be kept cold in the fridge for best results when mixing a drink. 

If you make lots of drinks with citrus and use your bar cart often, you may want to keep a lemon or lime on your bar cart, and this is fine. Just remember that lemons and limes are fresh fruit, and they will rot if you leave them there too long without using them. 

What Can You Use Instead of a Bar Cart?

Maybe you’ve come this far and decided that a bar cart just isn’t for you. That’s okay, as there are many other ways you can store your alcohol without one. 

Instead of a bar cart, you can use a side table, dresser, open shelving, or even just a tray that you can remove off the table when you are finished and store elsewhere. You can also use a cabinet, a basket, or even a bookshelf! 

Final Thoughts

When you love to entertain guests, a bar cart is a necessity. Not only is it a place to prepare drinks and appetizers, but they are a great decoration piece to add to any room. But when it comes to picking a bar cart, you need to be sure that you pick the one that is right for you. 

This is because bar carts come in many styles and sizes and can often be used for completely different purposes. Thus you should consider what you plan to use your bar cart for before you go shopping for one. You should also consider the space you plan to store the bar cart in. 

Overall, once you have selected the perfect bar cart, you will love all of the amazing things you can store on your bar cart and the way it blends in beautifully with your décor. Just be sure you always keep safety in mind and never overload your bar cart with bottles, and watch that things don’t fall as you move your cart at your next event!

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