Few things compare to a simple cocktail enjoyed under summer’s sun, or sunset for that matter. When entertaining moves out onto the deck, patio or poolside the beverage experience should likewise take it easy. That means a little curating will go a long way to avoid the entire liquor cabinet from ending up outside. It requires a plan.
The bar car is the start. It not only holds a selection of booze, but it tells guests where to head when they arrive. This handsome cart’s body is made up of weather-resistant teak and marine-grade stainless steel. Cart designs with two wheels stay put better than those with four casters, which never seem to lock, meaning most of your libations stay on the cart at least a little longer. The 48-inch long and arm’s width wide, scratchproof top is a perfect work surface. The bottle racks keep the essentials close at hand while the two pullout trays make serving the crowd a snap. A pair of drawers holds the bevy of napkins, kitchen towels, bottle cap openers and the like to keep clutter to a minimum.
Martini, rocks and wine glasses should all be waiting on the cart’s lower shelf. Elevate the summer cocktail shaker experience with a pewter version that adds heft while the matte finish reduces glare. The best summer drinks are the ones that require a little of this and a few glugs of that, but for precise measuring a one ounce fox head jigger is a hip way to get a drink just right. Make a perennial favorite like sangria or a soon-to-be favorite like Philly Fish House punch ahead of time and it becomes a vertical eye-catcher, as well as self serve station in a tall, narrow pitcher.
The neutral, smooth taste of a premium vodka is the cornerstone of any bar, cart or otherwise. With no effort it can be poured into a vodka and tonic and garnished with a fresh lemon wedge. Cart mates should include Campari, because it really isn’t summer without this Italian bitter. A basic mixing rum earns a spot because it pairs so well with fruit, but if space allows a premium version for sipping neat slides afternoons effortlessly into early evenings. And Champagne, or a fruity sparkling wine, is on board to aid in airiness.
A stocked bar cart should welcome everyone, drinkers and drivers alike. Step up beyond ordinary bottled water into some infused waters. For those looking for carbonation, sparkling cider keeps things light and a good ginger beer is a quick reminder of the days when the stuff actually tasted like ginger.
The classic Americano: Campari, sweet vermouth and ice. Splash of soda optional.
Bar Cart by Barlow Tyrie available at Hildreth’s, $3900
Accessories available at Brooklyn-based kaufmann-mercantile.com:
Cocktail shaker: 8” pewter “vintage,” made in Lombardia, Italy, $349
Fox head measuring jigger: 3oz pewter, handmade in Sheffield, England, $65
Pitcher: 1.5liter crystal and hand cast pewter bottom, handmade in Italy, $219
Stirrer: 13.6” pewter cocktail stirrer, handmade in Italy, $75