How to style a drinks trolley

A bar cart is a must-have accessory for the consummate cocktail lover or perfect party planner

If you love to entertain at home, a bar cart is a must-have item of furniture. Once seen as a retro throwback, in the past few years the drinks trolley has enjoyed a renaissance, becoming an ultra-fashionable way to display your favourite spirits and glassware.


Here, five interior design experts share their top tips on how to style a bar cart.

drinks trolley

1) Incorporate statement glassware

With a variety of drink options comes a variety of glasses to choose from. Think carefully about what you will be serving, and stock your bar cart accordingly with the correct glassware. Statement glassware is not only perfect for serving your classic cosmopolitans in style, but they also draw people to the bar cart, encouraging them to start a conversation over making their own drinks too.

‘Bar carts create a sense of occasion in any sitting room as they are a perfect accompaniment for entertaining guests, but no bar cart is complete without beautiful glassware,’ says Ivana Allain, Studio Director at Helen Green Design.

‘We recommend a statement decanter or two for airing wines, and simple but practical wine glasses and tumblers. The longer and thinner the glassware, the nicer it is to hold and the more elegant its appearance.’

2) Use the top and bottom of the bar cart

If you have a multilevel bar cart, use both the top and bottom of the bar cart and balance its décor. Too many bottles on one side can make the bar cart appear cluttered and out of balance, so place bottles of similar weights at opposite sides of the bar cart on different levels.

‘Always put bottles on the bottom and glassware at the top of a bar cart, as it is safer to put heavier items at the bottom,’ says Eva Leone, Studio Director at Lawson Robb.

‘Bar carts do not have to be used exclusively for drinks and glassware. You can place accessories such as vases, small sculptures or flowers to create an alternative use for your bar cart that focuses on sculptural art.’

3) Leave space for flowers

The easiest way to create a casual but charming bar cart is by incorporating natural elements into it. Whilst bar carts can be busy in terms of décor, leaving room for flowers can make the drink station seem approachable instead of intimidating. Just be sure to choose tall vases and smaller bouquets to conserve space on your bar cart.

‘Plants and flowers brings character and life to your display and soften all that glass and shiny surfaces,’ says Alexandra Laird, Design Manager at Burbeck Interiors. ‘You could use a hardy succulent or aloe vera for a long-life addition, or you can try a more feminine arrangement of your favourite colourful florals.

‘Also, don’t forget herbs as some fresh rosemary snipped from the garden in a nice short vase or even jam jar is not only pretty but adds the perfect flourish to your 6-o clock G&T!’

4) Use cocktail ingredients as décor

Cocktail garnishes add the finishing touches to your cocktails, but why not use the ingredients as décor as well? For instance, a mint plant could help liven up the bar cart and make the space smell fantastic, whilst a bowl of citrus may aid visual interest.

‘Cocktails have made a real comeback recently. People love to mix drinks at home, so it’s important to have different garnishes to add that final touch to any drink,’ says James Ashfield, Studio Manager, Rigby & Rigby. ‘A simple bowl or two in matching glassware design to your other glasses will make it feel effortless.’

5) Match the season to the choice of drink

So that your bar cart always remains in fashion, match your choice of drink to the season. Not only will this keep your bar cart updated and fresh, but you can centre your designated colour scheme around the colour of the bottles.

For example, the season autumn is defined by colours red, orange, yellow, purple and brown so it would be good to style the bar cart with bottles of bourbon, fall spices and cranberries.

‘Styling your bar cart can depend on the season too. If the season is spring, you could accessorise and style your bar cart with pastel colours to match the alcohol on display,’ says Nicki Rodriguez, director of LHR Design.

‘For example, rhubarb gin with pieces of rhubarb in the dispenser, would work great in spring. For the warmer, summer season, Pimms is very popular whereas Autumn promotes enriching oranges, red and browns, like those found in a whisky or cognac.

‘Lastly, Christmas is a fantastic time of the year, with seasonal drinks such as mulled wine. During the festive season, decorate with bowls of cranberries, mistletoe, orange segments and cinnamon sticks.’


All images courtesy of FTD.