The chic outdoor entertaining essential your garden is missing - move over outdoor kitchens

Cookery writer Skye McAlpine explains how to achieve this season's coolest entertaining essential

Frose in wine glasses on tray in garden
(Image credit: Future PLC/Charlotte Tolhurst)

We're always on the lookout for new ways to up our hosting ante, and the summer bar cart might just be it. 

After all, the bar cart usually only gets its time in the sun (so to speak) in the winter months, but if you're not making the most of it year round the you're missing a trick. And your garden ideas will be sorely lacking without one as soon as you invite friends or family over to spend time in your outdoor space.

We spoke with cookery writer, Skye McAlpine, on what your new cocktail area need to hit all the style marks this season.

Jug and glasses of Pimms in garden

(Image credit: Future PLC)

How to style a summer bar cart

'To get started with styling up a summer bar cart, you first want to start with working out the surface area,' advises Skye. 'I'd always dreamed of having a bar cart and while we don't actually have one, my pride and joy - which we use as a bar cart - is a vintage 1950s Fornasetti fridge. It's insane, but we love it!'

'Even if you can't have a bar cart because you can't fit it in your home or on your patio then you can still create that bar moment with a little bistro table, or even the corner of whatever other garden furniture you with a tray.'

Cocktail tray in kitchen with lemons, mint and pineapple

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Placement of the summer bar cart is as key as figuring out what it actually is. 

'It's a lovely idea to have this set up near the entrance at the space, as a way to welcome your guests,' Skye suggests.

Passionfruit cocktails on tray with glass stirrers

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Of course, the next step is choosing what to feature on your summer bar cart. Glasses, of course are a necessity, and you can always style with your more precious pieces, so you can show them off but you don't actually have to entrust them to your guests if you don't want to.

'I think it's nice to have a pop of colour on the rim or the foot which look great with fruit and ice,' muses Skye. 'Then I think you want to invest in a nice ice bucket. I also feel that drink twizzlers, bar tools and glass straws provide that cocktail-y feeling you're after.'

There's something inherently retro about a bar cart, so why not lean into this a little bit?

'I quite like the idea of just having like a little dish with the little retro paper umbrellas!,' says Skye. 'And a nice jar of something like maraschino cherries - just something that says this is a special moment.'

'And then some alcohol. I don't drink very much, so I typically choose based on how cool the label looks! Otherwise just go with your favourites.'

Frose in wine glasses on tray in garden

(Image credit: Future PLC/Charlotte Tolhurst)

 The finishing touches will make your summer bar cart shine. We're surrounded by pretty seasonal flowers in gardens, so why not make use of them?  'A peony or two in a bud vase is often all you need,' adds Skye. 

'And then a little lamp is a lovely addition for when the sun goes down, rechargeable table lamps are a nice option.'

'Basically, we just need more bar cart moments!,' she concludes.

A Table Full Of Love, £19.75 at Amazon

A Table Full Of Love, £19.75 at Amazon

Skye McAlpine's latest cookery book is available now and shows you how to create the most 'aspirational and unabashedly romantic table' around. What could be better?!

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.