How to Mix it Up at Home with Vintage Barware
Just like the perfectly crafted cocktail, decorating a bar cart requires methodical measurements and a splash of the unexpected—by which, of course, we mean plenty of vintage barware! A bar cart is certainly lovely enough to subsist on its own, but vintage barware puts a personal seal on it. And with everything from coasters to shakers to decanters to choose from, there’s really no limits to vintage barware, either. The decision then becomes how do you curate a bar cart that perfectly suits your style? Below, we’ve broken down three looks that can easily be created with used barware.
Creating a Mid-Century Modern Bar
The Mid-Century Modern bar is an ode to color, architectural finesse, and tiki kitsch. Whether you opt for a teak bar cart or a brass-and-glass one, colorful and cheeky Mid-Century barware will make it pop. In fact, when it comes to the Mid-Century bar cart, throw inhibitions out with the first martini, and opt for all the fixings—we’re talking swizzle sticks, ice buckets, and dishes full of paper cocktail umbrellas.
Likewise, dress your cart with tropical-flavored booze, glass bottles of soda (which, when you think about it, are just about as retro as it gets), and dishes of plain candies. Keep an eye out for vintage designer glassware too, as the Mid 20th Century spawned scads of famous glassware designers like Dorothy Thorpe, Georges Briard, and Culver. All produced brilliant, metallic glassware that was born ready to top a bar cart.
Alternatively, Blendo Glass, produced by the West Virginia Specialty Glass Company in the 1950s and 60s, was a rainbow-bright line composed of highballs, cocktail pitchers, and fruit bowls with bases frosted in bold, sunset-worthy hues. Being the vintage addicts we are, we love the idea of using Blendo as a Mid-Century bar cart’s jumping-off point. The ombre colors are perfect for complementing fun extras like swizzle sticks, ice buckets, and vintage brass bottle openers.
Creating an Eclectic French Bar
Effortless, unexpected, and cool, the eclectic bar is a cerebral re-thinking of the bar cart. It’s a hybrid—landing somewhere between bar cart and bookcase. Items that wouldn’t normally call a bar cart home nestle right up to vintage barware, generating a sense of unpretentious ease. The look also benefits from a hefty pinch of herbs de Provence (metaphorically, of course), in the form of French café standbys like match strikers, corkscrews, candle sticks, and hardy flowers.
To get the look, start by anchoring your piece with a collection of liquor bottles (bonus points if they’re French!). If you feel inclined, factor in a few swing-top bottles filled with basics like homemade seltzer or simple syrup too. Trust us, it will make all the difference. Pellegrino, in its pint-size emerald bottles, is also a win.
From there, add vintage barware pieces match strikers, grapevine corkscrews, and sterling bottle stoppers. Love it? Good. Now add another layer, this time opting for less traditional bar items like art (portraits and abstracts will make the most impact, here), vases, sculpture, and candle sticks.
Finally, fill in the landscape you created with details, by which we mean: add a silk scarf to a marble bust sculpture, fill an ice bucket with lemons, or drop a bunch of robust, unkempt flowers (like delphinium or sunflowers) into a vase. Alternatively—if you’re really all about taking a firm detour from tradition—try adding something entirely left-field, like a bouquet pheasant feathers.
Creating an Art Deco Bar
Bar carts naturally have an Art Deco joie de vivre, making Art Deco styling a must-try. To play up your bar cart’s Deco assets, look for vintage barware in chrome and crystal. We personally love heavy, cut crystal decanters, silver julep cups, saucer-sized coupes, and mesh-dressed seltzer bottles. Highlight the heavy metals with tightly edited bouquets of red or white roses (a great vessel for them are those julep cups!), and stacks of jacketless books. Both will play magnificently off the silver, adding nothing but elegance in their wake.
Also a must? A silver shaker with a pour spout, and an old champagne bucket filled with ice. Plus, major extra credit for finding the space for the grand dame of bar carts: the punch bowl. As a final kiss on the seal, layer on prim and proper bar accessories like striped paper straws, printed napkins, and of course, bottles of champs. Over your bar cart, pay your respects to the generation that started it all by hanging some cinematic, 1920s-inspired black-and-white photography.