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A la cart.

In recent years, pretty much the only place you could spot a beverage cart was in black-and-white movies. But this year, the wheeled, multitrayed carts are appearing in stores. "Entertaining at home is hot right now, and people have rediscovered beverage carts," says interior designer Chris Breining.

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Breining notes that built-in bars are also increasing in popularity, but says the wheeled carts offer more versatility. They can take the place of the built-in bar and be just as elegant. "Beverage carts are not just for drinks," he says. He suggests using one as a serving cart to transport food from the kitchen to the dining room or deck; it can also be used as a buffet table or as an everyday utility cart.

Party accessories to display on beverage carts also have become big business. "Because the tools are so good looking, you can make a design statement with them," Breining says. "Shakers and stirrers are sculptural, and martini glasses come in many different colors."

RELATED ARTICLE: Stocking a beverage cart

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MeMe Pederson, owner of San Francisco's Taste Catering (www.tastecatering.com or 415/550-6464), stages both large and small parties. When it comes to beverage carts, she recommends keeping the following items on them.

* American Bar: The Artistry of Mixing Drinks (Abbeville Press, 1995; $25), by Charles Schumann. "I like the way he has the book laid out," Pederson says. "If you have it, you can mix drinks with confidence."

* Cocktail equipment. "To make cocktails like the pros, you'll need bar tools, such as a shaker and a strainer."

* Linen cocktail napkins. "Cocktail napkins are smaller and easy to hold. Linen makes them special," she says.

* Small cutting board. You'll need it for cutting limes and lemons.

* Syrups. Pederson's company is known for creating signature drinks for events. She suggests keeping flavored syrups on hand to "personalize" your beverages.

* Zester. Adding citrus peels to drinks livens them up.
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Title Annotation:Trend - beverage carts.
Author:Bowling, Mary Jo
Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Words:323
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