If it’s true that we eat with our eyes, then chances are, we drink with them, too.

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One of my mother’s favorite quotes was: “The only difference between a bad dinner party and a good one is three cocktails.”

To help facilitate those cocktails, invest in a bar cart. Handy and chic, a bar cart offers a sensational setting for serving drinks and appetizers with style.

RETRO REVIVAL

Bar carts were all the rage in the ’50s and ’60s, back when happy hour was a regular ritual and parties revolved around creative cocktails. Now, these mobile serving tables are back in style, especially among younger people, who find them too kitschy and cool to resist.

No matter what your style, you’ll find a cart that will look smashing in your home, from an elegant antique to a funky vintage find to a sleek, contemporary piece.

SMALL-SCALE SERVICE

The beauty and the curse of bar carts is you don’t have a lot of space to work with. Everything you place on these tiny shelves needs to either serve a functional purpose or add a powerful punch of visual panache. And remember to bring in some visual height — anything tall is great, like a lamp or a showy bouquet of flowers.

Your top shelf should be filled with the items you’ll need first, and need the most, like appetizers, bottles of booze and bar tools.

West Elm Round White Rim Lacquer Trays, $59 each
West Elm Round White Rim Lacquer Trays, $59 each

Cocktail napkins can go on a bottom shelf, along with more glasses, full bottles and additional snacks. (If you have pets, though, you might want to reconsider putting food down low.)

LOOKS MATTER

If it’s true that we eat with our eyes, then chances are, we drink with them too. So, make sure your bar cart is something to pop a cork over. The first place to start is your drinks containers, since they are the stars of the show.

If your favorite beverages come in less-than-attractive bottles, pour the spirits into a decanter. You don’t have to spend a bundle on crystal; there are glass options that look great.

Trays can help pull a group of bottles together into one attractive unit, or hold glasses or appetizers.

SIZED TO SUIT

Bar carts’ smaller size makes them an ideal pick for those living in tighter quarters, as they can be used all over the house. In your bathroom, wheel one next to your tub, filling the bottom shelf with rolls of towels and the top shelf with bubble bath, a candle and a book. Or place one next to a pedestal sink to hold toiletries.

They can be used as end tables in living rooms and as night tables next to beds. Put one on your patio or porch for outdoor events. Or roll one up to your dining table when you host dinner parties as an extra spot to place serving plates and bowls full of food that won’t fit on the table.