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On the Rocks

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Check out the summertime bar-cart tips you need to know.

By Chelsea Pribble, Photos courtesy of Katie Kime

The best summer gatherings keep the bar cart well stocked and the libations flowing. Whether you’re a martini gent, an Old Fashioned gal or permanent resident of Margaritaville, check out these tips to keep the bar cart and good times rolling in style.

The essentials

No matter your drink of choice, invest in these essentials to avoid last-minute scrambling before a party or low-key evening alone:

  • shaker
  • blender
  • strainer
  • muddler
  • wine key
  • corkscrew
  • manual juicer
  • ice bucket
  • cocktail napkins
  • weighted bar spoon
Helpful hints and tasteful trends

When shopping for bar tools, consider your bar-cart aesthetic and preferred color palette and plan accordingly.  

  1. Add pops of color with cocktail napkins and straws, and customizable ice buckets, serving trays and tea towels. Pick boldly printed fabric cocktail napkins, monogrammed tea towels, barware and more from Katie Kime, an Austin-based designer known for her colorful prints and patterns.
  2. Surround your bar cart with eye-catching artwork to lure guests to the main event. Consider using a small chalkboard to display drinks and recipes so guests know what’s available.
  3. Think outside the bar cart. Don’t limit yourself to drink-related accessories. Add a stack of books, a record player and record collection, fresh blooms or quirky trinkets. If you’re a minimalist, try an understated bar cart with a muted color palette. Use clear serving trays to keep things neat and organized, and add fresh succulents to balance the look.
  4. Style your cart according to your drink preference. Make your favorite liquor or wine the centerpiece. If you have a favorite brand, stock up and display multiple bottles at a time. You never know when the neighbors will come knocking.

Call me Old Fashioned

What you’ll need:

  • large ice-cube tray
  • your favorite whiskey, bourbon or rye
  • your favorite bitters
  • sugar cubes
  • Old Fashioned or rocks glasses
  • fruit of your choice
  • citrus zester and peeler

For a summertime twist on an Old Fashioned, find recipes that include mint, ginger or different types of citrus. For your gathering, set aside a few extra rocks glasses for displaying garnishes. Add mint and other fresh herbs, fresh cherries and orange slices for a festive look. Pro tip: To keep the mint and fresh herbs from wilting during the event, add a little water at the bottom of each display glass.

Take a page from Kime and decorate the wall behind the cart with her Call Me Old Fashioned print, or avoid the nail and hammer altogether and lean the artwork against the wall.

Check out local distilleries like Still Austin Whiskey Co. for homegrown whiskey as an effortless centerpiece.

Shaken not stirred martini

What you’ll need:

  • martini glasses
  • toothpicks or olive picks
  • your favorite gin or vodka
  • your favorite vermouth (in the mix or just as a glass rinse)

Give guests the option of extra olives and lemon. Or to shake things up for the summer, garnish the martinis with blackberries and raspberries. Martini wall art is plentiful, so find a martini art piece you love and add it to your décor. Decorate the bar cart with local vodka from Deep Eddy Vodka or Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

Margarita on the rocks

What you’ll need:

  • your favorite tequila
  • your favorite triple sec
  • freshly squeezed lime juice or fruit of your choice
  • salt and sugar to rim glasses

Line up lemon and lime wedges on a serving tray for a colorfully tart display, and give guests the option of salt- or sugar-rimmed glasses. Then get creative with fruit and flavor the drinks with watermelon, blackberry, grapefruit or mango. Once you’ve chosen the flavor for the evening, coordinate the bar-cart colors, adding bright straws and colored sugar. Dress up the cart with Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, made with 100 percent blue agave, or Republic Tequila.

Hostess with mimosas

What you’ll need:

  • Champagne flutes
  • your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine
  • fruit juice of your choice

Set aside two or three extra Champagne flutes and layer them with fresh fruit. After you’ve taken Instagram-worthy pictures, invite guests to dive in. Pour orange juice, pomegranate juice or even grapefruit juice into a more decorative glass or vase for serving. Toast and sip!

Wine-os

What you’ll need:

  • wine-bottle stopper
  • stemware
  • decanter
  • wine of your choice

Don’t drink that wine! It sounds counterintuitive, but look for bottles of wine you’ll want to show off. If you know you won’t be able to resist, buy two or three bottles and leave one to display on your bar cart. For a label with more meaning, check out Personal Wine, an Austin-based company that prints customized labels. This is a great way to display family portraits, kids’ artwork or meaningful images and text. If you want to prove your love of wine, use emptied bottles as decoration. Collect old corks and fill a glass vase or three differently shaped glasses for a simple centerpiece. If you’re collection is meager, start with a small wine glass and work your way up to a larger glass. Don’t forget to take advantage of all of the vineyards in and near Austin.

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