How To Style Your Drinks Trolley

How To Style Your Drinks Trolley

A drinks trolley not only oozes sophistication, but serves a purpose too. To let it take centre stage in your home, it needs to offer a combination of practical gadgetry and glamorous accessories. Read on to discover our edit of drinks trolley essentials that will leave you perfectly prepped for both parties and pre-dinner drinks

How To Choose It

In recent years, the drinks trolley has become a household must-have. For those of us without the space or budget for a built-in bar or cabinet, these four-wheeled wonders offer a clever way of displaying bottles, glassware and barware. There are more styles than ever on offer, from Art Deco to industrial, so taking time to consider what will work in your home – rather than simply falling in love with a design – is crucial to it being a successful addition. Molly Park, head of home and gift design for Oliver Bonas, suggests considering where it is going and how it is being used. “Is it a more decorative purchase or for more functional use? The trolley is exposed so you want to make sure you only place aesthetically pleasing bottles, lights and maybe a plant on it. With trolleys, you are close to the glassware and are able to focus on aesthetics!”

It’s also worth giving some thought as to whether you will use it as a mobile item, or keep it firmly in place. “Manoeuvring it around your home may affect the size and shape you ultimately plump for,” explains Victoria Atkin, co-founder of Atkin & Thyme. “And, when it comes to shelving, think about what you plan to store on the trolley. How many spirits do you have? Do you want to display glasses as well as bottles? Do you want room for an ice bucket? Will you prepare cocktails on the trolley itself? It’s also worth considering if you want the trolley to have a maximalist look, adorned with decorations, floral arrangements and accessories, or if you’re taking a more minimalist approach with only simple but sophisticated essentials. The number of shelves and the overall size of the trolley you choose should depend on all of these things.”

How To Style It

To elevate your trolley from the purely practical to the decorative, what you choose to put on it is key. Choose bottles with interesting labels - there are so many intricate designs in unusual shapes with eye-catching artwork. Antique cut or crystal glassware finally gets its moment in the spotlight and is practical to have to hand as well. Make sure you have the different glassware styles you need according to what drinks you’re stocking onboard. Consider some colourful options too, which particularly work well against glass and mirrored surfaces.

You have carte blanche to bring some humour to your drinks trolley – something you might not normally add to standard items such as a console or sideboard. Have fun and explore your eccentric side with a quirky bottle opener and a pineapple ice bucket. 

How To Stock It 

According to Jared Brown, Sipsmith co-founder and master distiller, this is what every self-respecting host should aim for:  

  • The essential bar kit: A jigger (measure) to ensure the drink you create is balanced. Most classic cocktails tend to follow a simple rule of balancing strength with citrus and sweetness. Other helpful tools are: a bar spoon to mix the drink through, a mixing glass (you can use anything) to mix before pouring over the ice, a shaker and strainer for those drinks that need diluting over ice or for really mixing an ingredient like egg whites into a drink (a Gin Sour for example).

  • Glassware rules: There are no hard and fast rules about glassware but certain drinks do work better in certain glasses. There is lots of room for individuality but you can get by with a highball glass, a rocks glass (shorter) and a martini glass. Borrow your wine glasses for a substitute for a tumbler or a rocks glass at a pinch.

  • Less is more: Even the best cocktails can be simple – many of my favourites have three ingredients or less! A dry martini, a Negroni, Tom Collins and even a Sling cocktail all have three ingredients or less and yet remain some of the most delicious and popular cocktails worldwide.

And finally, remember that bitters are to a drinks trolley what salt is to the kitchen. You really only ever need two types of bitters – Angostura and Orange bitters – so save the space on the trolley.

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