Cocktail hour: Ring in the New Year with style by stocking a chic bar
Thank goodness for Mad Men. Without that delightful show, bar carts wouldn't be all the rage and we wouldn't be mixing up Old Fashioneds on the chime of five each evening.
Well, that might not be a daily tradition just yet, but it ought to be! Regardless, '60s-style bar carts have made a comeback in a big way. They add texture and interest to a room, and stocked well, their contents can take the edge off any awkward small talk.
What's a bar cart without a few festive drinks? We checked in with the team at Ballyvolane House Spirits Company for the perfect cocktail to serve straight from your bar cart, for a crowd of two or 20!
For your very own Hedgerow Martinis, you'll need two shots of Bertha's Revenge gin, three shots of sloe gin, a ¼ shot of elderflower cordial, two fresh blackberries and four lumps of ice. Put your martini glasses in the freezer or let them sit with a little ice and cold water to chill.
Put all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker (best not to overload or it won't mix well) and shake for 30 seconds. Pour into chilled martini glasses and garnish with frozen blackberries. This recipe can be multiplied, but you'll want to shake just two cocktails at a time.
It all starts with the cart. Whether you lean more modern, like this industrial bar cart from April & The Bear, or scoop a vintage cart up at a charity shop, look for clean lines.
Buy it: Industrial cart, €190 from April & The Bear,
It's smart to have a few tea towels on hand to mop up any spills. These Irish linen tea towels from 31 Chapel Lane are a classic choice. They add lovely texture and pattern to either a vintage or modern cart. Best of all? They're washable. Just pop them in the wash and line dry.
Buy it: €16 from 31 Chapel Lane, 31chapellane.com
I would be lying if I told you my bar cart wasn't an excuse to collect pretty glasses. It absolutely is. Kitchen glasses need to be utilitarian, but bar cart glasses can be for special occasions. They don't need to be loaded into the dishwasher every evening, so splurge on flutes you'll hand wash every so often. These champagne flutes from Next have the prettiest purple details. Stock up on tumblers as well, they're versatile and suitable for many drinks.
Buy it: Flutes, €30 from Next
Delineate your bar area with a little artwork hung right above it. Go for something a little cheeky that will remind you and your guests that it's cocktail hour. We love this otter print by artist Yellowhammer, available at the Jam Art Factory in Dublin because he looks like he's had a few too many glasses of champers. Hiccup!
buy it: Playtime print, €58 from Jam Art Factory in Dublin
One of the keys to a well-styled bar cart is to keep it from looking cluttered. Trays are your best tool to keep that from happening. It sounds counter-intuitive, but separating glasses from bottles and stirrers from spoons makes all the difference. Try a wooden tray or woven basket to add texture and warmth, especially if you've opted for an industrial cart. If you have single glasses, use them to collect your stirrers and use pretty bowls to offer garnishes to your guests during a party. Fiesta tip? Berries skewered on wooden sticks will top drinks off perfectly.
Buy it: Linea Traveller wooden tray, €52 at House of Fraser
Nothing says decadence like booze stored in a decanter. You can keep almost any booze in a decanter, but the stylist in me can't help but suggest to choose the ugliest bottle and decant that one, stat! Do keep in mind that whiskey will lose its quality faster than other alcohol if stored in a decanter for longer than a week. If you're hosting a soirée, make sure to label any decanters so your guests will know their vodka from their gin.
Buy it: Spiegelau decanter, €55 from Littlewoods Ireland