Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the shuttering of pub, clubs and bar doors, many of us have been embracing the home bar – from cocktail evenings over Zoom to boozy dinners with housemates or partners.
These venues are set to reopen by June as part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, but until then, staying in continues to be the new going out. As such, there has never been a better time to elevate your home bar set-up, and a drinks trolley is perfect for adding both practicality and some glitz and glamour to your evening tipples.
While the bar cart was once a relatively low-key interiors trend, they’ve seen a huge resurgence in popularity over the last few years. Its first iteration appeared in the Victorian era, when the cart became popular among middle and upper-class women drinking tea in their homes.
During prohibition in 1920s and 1930s America, the tea trolley evolved into the cocktail cart, which peaked in popularity from the 1950s onwards, with versions appearing in homes, workplaces (see the rotating cast of cocktails carts throughout Mad Men), hotels and more.
The mid-century modern trend shows no signs of slowing down, so tap into it, embrace your inner mixologist and serve up some aperitifs on these drinks trolleys.
In our search, we looked for style, durability, value for money, manoeuvrability and ease of set-up, looking for pieces that suited all budgets and tastes. From industrial chic offerings to vintage-inspired carts, we’ve found the best trolleys to add to your home set-up.
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Dunelm pimlico antique brass drinks trolley
Looking like it’s just been wheeled directly out of Don Draper’s office, the antique feel of this Dunelm cart is a real winner in our books. The handle make sit easy to roll from room to room, while it’s also small enough to slot into a corner when not in use. Feeling far more premium than its price suggests, it’s a fabulous cart that will make any evening tipple feel like an occasion.
The capable castors make carting this trolley around a breeze – no matter how heavy the gin bottles are on top – while the mirrored shelves are a lovely touch, reflecting your fancy glassware to really make the trolley a statement piece. With only these shelves and castors needing to be attached, assembly was a doddle as well.
XLBoom corona drinks trolley
This pleasingly utilitarian trolley is surprisingly lightweight and easily moved between rooms, while its round shape tucked neatly away when it was out of action. Toeing the line between functionality and a unique piece of designer decor, the standout look of the piece means the hefty price tag feels somewhat more justifiable; there’s even a choice of white, black and green colourways so you customise it to suit your space.
It’s made of sturdy coated steel and really added some kitschiness to our cocktail evening, so if your budget stretches, this is a worthy and attention-grabbing investment. Handily, it also came fully constructed, with only the wheels needing to be attached.
Loaf little soak drinks trolley
This lovely brass trolley is perfect for injecting some Gatsby-esque glamour into your living space. With its tempered glass top and shelf, it looks delicate and elegant without any fragility, feeling sturdy enough to showcase all your heavy-duty bottles without risk. The vintage-style brass finish has been hand-welded too – a nice additional touch.
At £355, it may seem steep for its 60cm x 60cm size, but it’s a stylish and tasteful piece that could double up as a sofa side table, and will be sure to impress any future houseguests. Though currently unavailable, more stock is expected late May.
Where Saints Go provencal bar carton
This prohibition-style cart is given a welcome dose of French chic with its antique finish and “Bistrot De France” insigniture plaque. Giving our evening gin tipples at home a wistful holiday feel, the cart is a pleasing blend of vintage and contemporary styles.
On the larger side, it doesn’t just look the part but also offers ample room for storage and the chance to showcase both your spirits, glassware and more across its three tiers. It came fully constructed for ease of set-up, while its castors allow it to be seamlessly carted between rooms, despite its size. The Where Saints Go offering is one of the most versatile drinks trolleys we tested, and could easily be repurposed as bookshelves or even a sideboard.
Next bar drinks trolley
This elegant gold glossed trolley from Next nods to Art Deco influences with its metallic orbital frame and mirrored shelves. A statement piece long after the party has ended, you can’t go wrong with this impressively affordable option.
No assembly was required apart from attaching the glass trays, and its compact size (70cm x 59cm) means it works well in small living spaces and flats. Made from stainless steel, it feels sturdy and durable and was easily transportable. Your cocktail evenings are in safe hands with this simple yet distinguished design.
Perch & Parrow mojito silver drinks trolley
A slightly less showy option than some of the carts we tested, this Perch & Parrow drinks trolley boasts stylish smoked enameled glass shelves and a stainless steel gloss – both awarding the piece a luxurious feel.
We found that bottles and glassware on the asymmetrical shelves creates an impactful look, and assembly is easy – simply place the glass shelves on top of the frame. Thoughtfully crafted and effortlessly cool, this understated piece is worthy of pride of place in any home bar set-up.
Design Vintage black magazine trolley
This is a bar cart with a difference, as the lower tier of this trolley from Design Vintage boasts the added bonus of a magazine rack. Its simple yet stylish matte black lacquer finish lends it well to multiple uses – when cocktail hour is over, we’d happily use the piece as a side table by the sofa or even as a bedside table.
Be aware that as this trolley is only on two castors, manoeuvrability is reduced, but we think the magazine rack compensates for this. The trolley easily transitions from daytime to evening and it makes for a unique and practical addition to any room, serving you just as well though boozy evenings as it does reading the Sunday papers.
La Redoute hiba metal and pine serving trolley
For pure versatility, you’re in good hands with this serving trolley from La Redoute. The metal frame compliments the shelves perfectly, allowing the natural pine to shine through, while its nifty castors mean it’s easily wheeled between rooms. When you’re not serving up cocktails, this Scandi-inspired piece looks just as good as a sideboard on wheels, displaying house plants, vases or books. It’s a roomy and rustic take on the drinks cart that, for under £200, feels a lot more luxurious.
B&M tromso drinks trolley
This budget option from B&M doesn’t hold back on the Art Deco detailing, and will give any room an added touch of retro razzle dazzle. The cart has a shiny gold finish and glass shelves, both looking and feeling far more expensive than its £30 price tag suggests.
Smaller in size than most trolleys we tested, it won’t host a vast drinks selection, but if yours is modest in size, it’s a nice and compact piece that will fit easily into the corner of any living space. Modern and intricate, this one certainly tops the list for value for money.
The verdict: Drinks trolleys and bar carts
For a simple and affordable bar cart that adds just the right amount of understated glamour to your cocktail evening, we recommend heading to Dunelm for the pimlico antique bar cart. If budget allows, we’d also highly recommend Loaf’s little soak bar trolley and the XLBoom corona drinks trolley; both are real statement pieces that are sure to impress any future houseguests.
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