Creating delicious cocktails right in the comfort of your own home is an art form that every aspiring home bartender should embrace. But to craft those perfect drinks that impress your guests and satisfy your own taste buds, there are some essential bar tools you’ll need.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned mixologist, having a well-equipped home bar is essential for mastering the art of bartending. This list includes the must-have bar tools that every home bartender should have, so you have everything you need to shake, stir, muddle, and garnish every drink to perfection.
So let’s raise our glasses and dive into the world of essential bar tools, where the possibilities are as endless as the drinks you’ll create!
Essential Tools for the Home Bar
By the way, you can get most of these tools in a home bar set that includes everything you need but the cocktail glasses. You don’t need to spend a fortune on any of these to get started.
1. Cocktail Shaker with Tin, Strainer and Lid
The metal shaker is a must-have tool for mixing and chilling cocktails. There’s no other kitchen tool that will quite do what it does.
The main difference between a Boston cocktail shaker and the three-piece or cobbler shaker, lies in their design and construction.
Boston Cocktail Shaker:
The Boston cocktail shaker is a two-piece set consisting of a larger metal tin and a slightly smaller mixing glass or pint glass. The two parts are designed to fit snugly together, creating a tight seal when shaken.
One advantage of the Boston shaker is its larger capacity, allowing for the mixing of multiple drinks at once. It is also preferred by many professional bartenders for its simplicity and ease of use.
To use the Boston shaker, one places the smaller glass or tin inside the larger tin, combining the ingredients in the smaller vessel. Then, with a firm tap, the two parts are sealed together, creating a watertight seal.
This type of shaker requires a separate strainer, such as a Hawthorne or Julep strainer, to be used when pouring the cocktail into the glass.
Regular or Three-Piece Shaker:
The regular or three-piece cocktail shaker is a self-contained unit consisting of three parts: a metal tin, a built-in strainer, and a cap or lid. The strainer is typically a perforated section with a built-in spring or strainer holes.
This design eliminates the need for an additional strainer when pouring the cocktail. To use the three-piece shaker, one simply combines the ingredients inside the main metal tin, places the cap on top, and gives it a good shake.
The built-in strainer helps to filter out ice and other solid ingredients when pouring the cocktail into the glass.
While the Boston shaker is commonly preferred by professionals due to its larger capacity and versatility, the three-piece shaker offers convenience with its built-in strainer.
2. Mixing Glass
An alternative to a cocktail shaker, a mixing glass is used for stirring cocktails, especially those that should be gently mixed rather than shaken.
This can easily be a simple short tumbler from your kitchen. But it’s easier to work with a mixing glass with a pour spout.
Ones like this are designed to look gorgeous on your bar or when you’re mixing drinks in front of guests. But a big sturdy glass measuring cup is perfect for the job, too.
3. Bar Spoon
A long-handled spoon used for stirring drinks. Look for a spoon with a twisted handle, as it helps with layering and muddling ingredients.
A measuring tool for accurate pouring. It usually has two ends, one for measuring standard cocktail ounces and the other for smaller measurements like half ounces or quarter ounces.
If you don’t like using a jigger, you can opt for a measuring cup or spoons instead.
Even if your cocktail shaker comes with a strainer, you may want some additional strainers in your toolkit. Some strainers are better for straining ice, others for citrus juice pulp, etc. The three available types are Hawthorne strainers (with a coiled spring), Julep, and fine-mesh strainers.
The Hawthorne strainer is a versatile and widely used straining tool in the bartending world. It consists of a flat, round disc with a coiled spring surrounding its perimeter.
The disc has small holes that allow liquid to pass through while straining out ice, fruit pulp, or other solids. The coiled spring helps secure the strainer onto the top of a mixing glass or shaker tin, ensuring a snug fit during pouring.
The Hawthorne strainer is known for its practicality and ease of use, making it great for a variety of shaken cocktails like the Margarita or the Cosmopolitan. The spring also serves as a useful grip, allowing bartenders to adjust their pouring technique and control the flow of liquids.
Both the Julep and Hawthorne strainers have their own unique advantages. While the Julep strainer is perfect for stirred cocktails and provides an elegant touch, the Hawthorne strainer’s versatility and secure fit make it an excellent choice for shaken drinks.
The fine-mesh strainer is a great tool for home bartenders who aim for a clean and refined presentation in their cocktails. This strainer consists of a bowl-shaped mesh screen with tiny perforations that allow liquid to pass through while trapping finer particles such as small herbs, citrus pulp, or ice shards.
The fine mesh makes certain that your drinks are free from unwanted pulp and other debris, which gives you a smoother texture and a more visually appealing presentation.
The fine-mesh strainer is commonly used as a second strainer. After shaking or stirring a cocktail with ice, the mixture is poured through the Hawthorns or Julep strainer, and then again through the fine mesh to catch any remaining solids that might have slipped through the primary strainer.
This additional step helps achieve a professional-level cocktail that is visually flawless and devoid of any unwanted impurities.
And you can do that all in one step. You pour the cocktail out of the shaker with its attached strainer and hold the fine-mesh strainer over the glass.
Besides straining cocktails, the fine-mesh strainer is useful around the kitchen. It can be used for sifting dry ingredients like powdered sugar or cocoa, straining stock or broth to remove small particles, or rinsing grains or beans.
Pick a fine-mesh strainer that has a comfortable handle for easy maneuverability. The mesh should be tightly woven and durable to ensure it effectively filters out fine particles.
Cleaning the strainer is typically straightforward; it can be rinsed under running water or gently brushed to remove any residue.
By adding a fine-mesh strainer to the list of bar tools you need, you’ll have the ability to refine your cocktails further, ensuring a clean and professional presentation that impresses both visually and in taste.
The Julep strainer is a classic bar tool that takes its name from the famous Mint Julep cocktail. It is a perforated metal strainer that fits over the top of a mixing glass or shaker tin.
The bowl-shaped design, often with a handle, allows for easy straining of cocktails while keeping ice, herbs, or other solid ingredients inside the mixing vessel.
The Julep strainer is ideal for straining cocktails that are stirred or built in a mixing glass, such as the Old Fashioned or the Martini. Its elegant appearance and historical significance make it a favorite among traditionalists and aficionados of vintage bar tools.
A sturdy tool used for mashing fruits, herbs, or sugar cubes to release their flavors. It’s essential for making drinks like Mojitos or Old-Fashioneds.
7. Citrus Juicer
A citrus press or juicer is a device for extracting juice from citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges. A hand-held or electric juicer can make this task easier.
8. Bar Knife
A sharp knife with a pointed tip used for cutting garnishes, slicing fruit, or trimming cocktail ingredients.
This tool is used to create long, thin strips of citrus peel for garnishing cocktails. A zester can also be used to remove the zest for adding flavor to drinks.
10. Ice Bucket and Tongs
An ice bucket keeps your ice cubes or crushed ice accessible and prevents them from melting quickly. Tongs help in handling ice hygienically.
11. Straws and Stirrers
Essential for stirring and sipping cocktails. Look for reusable options like metal or glass straws for sustainability.
12. Bottle Opener
For opening bottled beers and other capped beverages.
13. Wine Opener
A corkscrew or wine opener is crucial if you plan to serve wine or open bottles with corks.
Invest in a variety of glassware, including highball glasses, rocks glasses, martini glasses, and stemmed glasses for wine or champagne.
15. Bar Towels
Keep a few bar towels handy for wiping spills, drying glassware, and general cleaning.
Certainly! Here are a few more essential tools to add to the previous list:
16. Bar Mallet
A sturdy mallet or muddler with a flat end is ideal for crushing ice cubes, cracking open nuts, or even muddling harder ingredients like sugar cubes.
17. Fine-Tip Pourers
These pourers fit into the neck of liquor bottles and provide controlled pouring, allowing you to accurately measure and pour spirits without any spillage.
18. Champagne Stopper
A handy tool for preserving the fizz in an open bottle of champagne or sparkling wine. The stopper helps maintain carbonation and freshness.
19. Bar Caddy or Organizer
Keep your essential tools and ingredients organized and easily accessible with a bar caddy or organizer. It typically has compartments to hold straws, napkins, stirrers, and other small bar accessories.
20. Cocktail Misting Sprayer
A small spray bottle used for adding a fine mist of liquid, such as absinthe or aromatic bitters, to enhance the aroma and flavor of your cocktails.
21. Julep Cups
25. Garnish Tools
These can include a channel knife for creating citrus twists, a bar zester for adding citrus zest, or a vegetable peeler for slicing garnishes like cucumber ribbons.