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Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for best beverage carts

When you think of a beverage cart, what comes to mind? Probably the kind of clunky cart that lumbers down the aisle of an airplane in flight. You wouldn’t want one of those in your home, and luckily, you have your choice of sleek, streamlined, and classic styles that won’t remind you of being stuck in a cramped plane seat for hours. 

Beverages carts and bar carts often overlap in terms of aesthetics and function, but there’s a subtle difference between the two pieces of furniture. Beverage carts can be a little more versatile than bar carts, thanks to their flexible features and sometimes, more open surface space.

There’s a large selection of beverage carts on the market. Carts of all sizes and configurations will accommodate any size space or type of function you envision. Choosing the right one is a matter of knowing your specific needs for the cart and the best models and features available. Our shopping guide covers it all.

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If you want to style your beverage cart, don’t hesitate to put a simple, small vase of fresh flowers, a small bowl or basket of fruit, or even a framed photo on one of the shelves.

Key considerations

While shopping for a beverage cart, there are several important considerations when choosing a model: location, function, size, weight, and sturdiness.


It’s important to know where you’ll park your beverage cart most of the time. That’s because you’ll want to choose a model made of the appropriate materials for the location. For example, if you want your cart to live indoors, wood or engineered wood is ideal, but wood can warp and become moldy if frequently used outdoors. Other materials intended for indoor use could corrode outdoors as well. If you want to use a cart solely for outside use, consider specific materials designed to withstand the elements, such as all-weather wicker or quality stainless steel.


The types of items you want to place on your cart determine the size and configuration of your choice. Lighter items such as a small houseplant or an ultra-thin television on the top shelf would likely be fine, especially if you have a unit with lockable casters. If you plan to make your cart multifunctional as a cake-and-coffee serving tray one day and a place to fold laundry the next, however, you’ll want to consider a less fancy, more industrial-style cart. If you’re using the cart strictly for drinks and drinkware, that’s when you’ll want to consider features that turn your cart into more of a bar.


There are a couple sets of dimensions you’ll want to know before shopping. First, how large is the space your cart will stay most of the time? If you’re bringing it outdoors, can it fit through the doorways onto your deck or patio? Second, there are also measurements of the shelves, both in height and width that will help you determine what size items and bottles you can fit.


Typically, a cart with two shelves will hold heavier items on the bottom shelf and lighter ones on top. For example, the top shelf of a cart might be able to hold 30 pounds whereas the bottom shelf might hold 40 pounds. If you’re hoping to put something heavy on the top shelf, like a hefty small appliance, check the manufacturer’s suggested weight limit per shelf.


This consideration goes hand-in-hand with how much weight the cart can accommodate. No matter what your cart holds, you don’t need it to wobble back and forth when you’re wheeling it down the hall. You also want to feel as though your drinkware and bottles will stay securely on the cart without toppling over and breaking. Though it can be challenging to know if the cart you’re buying online will be sturdy after it’s assembled, the rule of thumb is that you’ll rarely go wrong buying a solid hardwood piece.


When comparing beverage carts, keep an eye out for these features that’ll make your piece of furniture more useful to you.

Storage: Cabinets and drawers turn a cart into a highly functional piece of furniture or a true bar cart.

Racks: A beverage or bar cart may have a stemware rack and a wine rack to hold horizontal bottles. Some carts come with towel racks that double as handles for wheeling them around. Be aware that fancier imported or odd-shaped stemware may not fit into provided stemware racks made for standard-size or smaller glasses.

Cabinet: Some beverage carts have small cabinets, which are ideal spaces for additional drinkware and other cocktail supplies.

Built-in cooler: This amenity keeps drinks cool right at the cart, so there’s no need to run back and forth from the fridge.

Castors: Not all beverage carts have locking wheels. In models with locking wheels, it’s typical that only two of the castors are designed to lock. Rubber castors will have better grip on the floor, but swiveling (with 360 degrees of available movement) plastic castors will be tougher and easier to maneuver on all surfaces.

Cutting board: Some carts have tops that double as cutting boards. These can serve the purpose of a mini kitchen island or a beverage cart when it comes to prepping cocktails.

Slide-out basket: Slide-out baskets with tall rims offer ease of accessibility.

Materials: Wire shelving can be sleek, strong, and durable enough to hold small appliances, even a pizza oven, small microwave, or tabletop dishwasher. Alternatively, you may appreciate a wood beverage cart for its traditional appearance that blends in with your living space. If using a stainless steel cart or cooler outdoors or in a heavy traffic area of your home, expect some dings and scratches over time.

Beverage cart prices

Inexpensive: In the $63 to $82 range, you can find durable and functional beverage carts on wheels. They may lack the bells and whistles of higher-priced models, instead offering simple, unadorned shelves that do the job of holding your items.

Mid-range: In the $82 to $107 range, you’ll begin to find beverage carts on wheels with a little more style. Shelving may still be simple, and there may be a basket or two. If you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing beverage cart for your living space, you’ll find what you need in this range.

Expensive: Over $107, you’ll find carts on wheels made of solid wood and high-grade stainless steel with more attention to detail. Features such as built-in bottle openers, wine holders, stemware racks, and towel racks are found here. At the upper end of about $300, beverage carts may have bottom cabinets with doors instead of an all-open design, giving them a furniture-like appearance.


  • To keep a stainless steel cart or cooler that lives outdoors looking new longer, consider buying a grill cover for it — or a cover made specifically for your item. This will help protect it against scratches and dents.

  • Keep a full beverage cart or cooler off of uneven terrain inside or outside when rolling it to another location. Otherwise, it may tip over.

  • Though you may be tempted to try to place a mini fridge into a cabinet space on a beverage cart, the spot is likely too small. Most cabinets on beverage carts aren’t designed to house a refrigeration unit that needs ventilation.

  • Though a three-tiered beverage cart may offer more shelving space, you may not be able to fit tall bottles on the interior shelves. A two-tiered beverage cart gives you more space for oversized items.


Q. Can a stemware rack be added to a cart that doesn’t have one?

A. You can add on a stemware rack, but do so at your own risk. If the cart doesn’t come with a rack, the manufacturer usually advises against it. That’s because the maker likely didn’t design or safety-test the item to safely hold a stemware rack.

Q. Can these carts be used as changing tables for babies, too?

A. It would be highly inadvisable to use a beverage cart as a changing table, even if it does have a lip to keep the child from falling off. Beverage carts roll, not all wheels lock, and it may not be sturdy enough to hold a wiggly infant.

Some people also ask if a beverage cart can hold an aquarium. It’s not a good idea to put a large, heavy glass item filled with water and fish on a cart.

Q. How long will ice stay solid in a beverage cooler cart?

A. Stainless steel cooler carts may potentially keep ice solid up to three days. You can even keep ice cream from melting in the cooler for about 24 hours.

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