Bar Cart Basics: How To Reuse Liquor Bottles as Decanters — Apartment Therapy Tutorials

I collect empty liquor bottles. Why? I guess part of me hopes to find a way to repurpose them into something beautiful. With liquor bottles coming in all shapes and styles, it’s hard not to want to keep them around. I’ve seen restaurants repurpose them for serving tap water in style or as flower vases or candle holders. All great things, but why not reuse your liquor bottles to store, wait for it, more liquor?

Decanters might be a bit of a luxury, and this tutorial is all about luxury on a budget. Create your own unique designs so your bar cart really stands out the next time you serve up a Whiskey Smash or French 75.

What You Need


Empty liquor bottle
Air dry clay in white
Parchment paper
Metallic paint

Scissors or clay knife
Rolling pin
Paint brush (with a unique handle)


Step 1. Use your scissors or clay knife to cut off about 3/4 to 1 pound of clay. For reference, I used about half of the package of clay for each medium-large bottle.

Step 2. Layout the parchment paper, then carefully roll out the clay into a long oval or rectangular shape. You want it to be long enough to wrap around the bottle, tall enough to cover the height with extra to wrap the bottom, and thick enough that the textured impressions that you add later will stand out. I tried to keep mine between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick.

Step 3. Once the clay is ready, lay the bottle on top and slowly wrap the clay around. The decanter will have a seam, so make sure the seam falls on the back (or corner, if your bottle is rectangular). This will ensure a smooth front to the decanter. Since my bottle had embossed glass lettering on the front, I chose to keep that part of the bottle as the back of my decanter just in case it showed through.

Step 4. Smooth out the seam along the back of the bottle. I found it helpful to dip my fingers in water to create a sort of “slip” to help the clay blend together. Do the same to the bottom of the bottle, ensuring that the bottle can still sit up straight. Around the neck of the bottle, you can trim as needed using the scissors blades or clay knife. Don’t worry too much if your clay has minor dimples or lines as they will be camouflaged with the pattern.

Step 5. Flip your bottle upside down. Using the end of the paint brush (or other utensil with a handle), begin at the base of the bottle, pressing the utensil into the clay. If you don’t press hard enough, the impression won’t be as drastic, but if you press too hard you might hit the glass. Start at the back of the bottle so you have a couple attempts to get it right.

Once your first row is completed, continue going down the bottle (toward the neck), alternating your starting point, so that it has a scaled look.

Step 6. If you bottle doesn’t already come with a fancy cork or cap, paint the top with your favorite metallic paint or gold leafing.

And if booze isn’t your thing, they do make for great flower vases…

Have a really great DIY project or tutorial that you want to share with others? Let us know! We love checking out what you’re making these days, and learning from our readers. When you’re ready, click here to submit your project and photos.



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