Drinks Trolley Essentials for the Festive Season and Beyond
The drinks trolley, also known as bar cart, might go in and out of fashion as decades come and go, but it is really a timeless piece that will bring plenty of enjoyment to both cocktail enthusiasts and their guests.
They blend convenience and style, and more than just a storage unit, they can offer a glimpse at our personality, especially our entertaining style. As we polish our skills at cocktail mixing at home, creating a dedicated space for our best and favourite will help us appreciate them more, and make the occasion a little more special both during the holiday season and year-round.
Ask yourself what you like
While the ultimate Martini station sounds quite glamorous, it’s not the way to go for you if you don’t drink Martinis. Start by thinking about your preferences and maybe write down four or five of your favourite cocktails or drinks. Try to spot patterns in overlapping ingredients or techniques as this will help reveal your must-haves.
Besides reflecting upon your preferences, take also a moment to think about the most frequent use cases you can envision for your trolley. A special occasion centerpiece? A companion to gracious entertaining? A sophisticated station for date-wooing?
These questions will be handy at the time of choosing not just the drinks themselves but things like the glassware, decorations, location of the trolley and even the design of the trolley itself.
Choosing the right trolley
While there are countless designs and options, some of the most popular styles are a good place to get you inspired.
Art deco: A style born in France in the 1920’s and popular worldwide, which is synonymous with luxury and beauty. Think Gatsby’s glitz and a mix of geometric shapes and ornate detail.
Bar drinks trolley
Available at Next.ie
Segovia oval drinks trolley
Available at weddingshop.ie
Mid-Century Modern: Polished woods and clean-cut shapes channel the American fifties and sixties with a very strong nod to “Mad Men”. Call yourself Old Fashioned, while sipping one in style.
Alvaro 3 tier drinks trolley
€392 (on sale from €513)
Available at flanagans.ie
Milano bar trolley
Available at woodesign.ie
Boho: A more down to earth, relaxed alternative. Think less metal, more wood and natural lines and colours. You can even take a turn for the Tiki and look at bamboo, rattan and other tropical inspired materials.
Wicker 2-tier rattan bar trolley
Available at Esty
Bali natural rattan bar drinks trolley
Available at oliverbonas.com
Industrial: Fancy something a little more rustic? With iron bases, thick wooden tops and strong hipster coffee shop energy, an industrial trolley is cool, eye catchy and quite contemporary.
Available at woodesign.ie
Foundry inspired trolley
Available at kian.ie
Minimalist or Scandinavian: Think no frills = no fun? These understated pieces are versatile and no-nonsense. Clean lines, black, white or neutrals and the simplicity that will let the contents shine.
Available at ikea.com
Available at jysk.ie
Let’s talk drinks+
The whole raison d’être of your trolly. Quality trumps quantity when it comes to choosing the bottles that’ll become the base of your bar cart. Remember that this is not a full home bar, but a top selection.
Stick to one to three spirits and keep it simple. Whiskey and gin are very on-trend, and depending on your preferences, adding a good rum, tequila or vodka make sense. For bottle recommendations and cocktail ideas, check out our home bar essentials guide.
You might want to throw a couple of versatile liqueurs to complement your base spirits. Vermouth and Triple Sec feature in many cocktails so they’re a good place to start, but go back to your list of top cocktails and swap them for that liqueur that features in the drinks you make more often.
Espresso Martini fan? Then Kahlua or a coffee liqueur of your choice is a must. Negroni much? Then Campari is a go-to.
Finally, one of two extras such as cherries, Angostura bitters or syrup. Make sure to either get something beautifully packed, or change it into your own containers for a more elegant and polished look (plastic and
No need for an armory of gadgets on display (which doesn’t mean you can’t have them elsewhere in your kitchen or cabinet), just get a good cocktail mixing set and an ice bucket. Perhaps a small chopping board, fruit knife and citrus bowl, if they feature prominently in your repertoire.
If you’ve a larger trolley, having a small selection of glassware will make life easier. A couple of G&T glasses, whiskey tumblers and/or flutes are enough, avoid taking up too much space or showcasing novelty glassware that clashes with your trolley design (unless you’re going for a fun and quirky approach, of course).
That said, saving some of that precious trolley real estate for decorative elements might sound counterintuitive, but what a statement it makes when done right.
If you’re going for a refined vintage style like art deco or mid-century modern, items such small candelabra, a globe or any objet d’art that inspire you will add to the atmosphere. You can find wonders at antique shops or push your luck at flea markets for hidden gems.
More casual trolleys will up their charm with something funky or a touch of green. Pineapple-shaped ornaments are a common choice, as they’re well known as symbols of hospitality. Small, low-maintenance plants are also quite trendy and add -literally- life to your space.
Regardless of your style, a couple of strategically chosen books are always a great final touch. Think cocktail recipe books but also books about bartending, or the history of drinks.
Variety is the spice of life and adding a seasonal touch to your trolley will make it feel refreshed and fun all year-round.
For Christmas time, there are many ways in which you can give a festive twist to your trolley. Seasonal decorations are perhaps the most obvious, but only because they work like a charm.
You can mix function and form with neatly displayed mulled wine spices (in a small crystal box, for example), and have a bottle of your favourite easy going red wine at hand for a cozy winter sip.
Another cheerful touch could be a bowl of chestnuts or walnuts or hazelnuts, accompanied by a nutcracker. Sweet tooth? Candy cane, green and red macarons or a box of truffles will make for a perfect little treat that also looks lovely.
As for the drinks themselves? This is the time to bring out the premium spirits and let them shine. If you’re looking for bottles that offer both excellent contents as well as beautiful packaging, here are a few recommendations high in wow factor.
Available at selected stockists
Method & Madness Single Pot Still Batch 2
Available at celticwhiskeyshop.com
The Wilde 16 Cocktail Kit
Available at celticwhiskeyshop.com
Listoke 1777 Irish Small Batch Gin
Available at shop.listokedistillery.ie
Available at O’Briens Wines