10 Essential Bar Tools
If you’ve ever been to a high-end cocktail bar you’ve seen the magic happen. I’m always mesmerized by the mixologists shaking, stirring, mixing & tossing ingredients around with a seemingly encyclopedic recipe and ingredient knowledge. It’s also fun to watch them use an endless array of bar tools to craft something beautiful and if you’ve ever been inspired to give it a try at home, we’ve got you. There are 10 essential bar tools you’ll need to start mixing at home and it’s not as intimidating as you may think!
1. The Bar Book
This is a great resource and also makes for an impressive coffee table book for your guests to browse through. You can, of course, go down the google rabbit hole but I love having a hardcover book to reference. This isn’t just a book of a million recipes! Jeffery does a great job focusing on the basics of mixology and explaining how to use the various essentila bar tools listed here.
2. Japanese Style Jigger
The first rule of mixology is balance! While it may have been a bonus to get an overpour in our 20’s, now we know better because one small imbalance can ruin your entire cocktail. Established mixologists can pour by hand but many still elect to use a jigger for accuracy. We love this Japanese style stainless steel beauty but there are tons to choose from.
3. Boston Shaker
A shaker is another essential tool that you’ll need to get started. While there are shakers out there with built in strainers, we prefer the tried and true Boston Shaker. You can go premium (the first image here) or you can opt for a stainless steel + glass shaker (second image). Both are great so just choose based on your budget.
4. Hawthorne Strainer
Any shaken drinks need to be strained into a serving glass to avoid pulp, ice chips, and such. The traditional choice of professionals is the Hawthorne strainer. We’re loving this one and you can’t beat the price!
5. Bar Spoon
Stainless Steel Cocktail Mixing Spoon
Using a mixing spoon takes a little technique but once you’ve got it, you’re guests will be impressed! Going with a cheap, lightweight spoon is a big mistake and can ruin the experience for you. We suggest this stainless steel spoon (it’s still only $10) that also has a hammer on the end for breaking ice apart.
Everything else we’re recommending is stainless steel so we included one here as well. The Distinction Spirits cocktal muddler is great but we’re partial to a wooden muddler like this Kegworks Muddler. There’s just something about the feel of the wood that we love. You can choose for yourself!
Muddlig to release flavors in your herbs and other ingredients is key to some classic cocktails, like the Mojito or Sangria.
7. Hand Citrus Press
Nothing makes a cocktail stand out more than fresh ingrediens which makes a citrus press part of our essential bar tools kit. If you prefer a glass, steel or porcelain juice, like this, that’s an option as well. Both will work quite nicelyl for your cocktail creations.
8. Vegetable Peeler
OXO Good Grip Peeler
We’re classifying this as “non essential” because when it comes to garnishing and citrus peels, a knife can certainly be used but a peeler makes life a little easier. And, we’re all about that! We almost suggested a stainless steel peeler (they just look really nice) but in the end function won. The Good Grip peeler by OXO allows for, well, a good grip even when your hands are wet which is crucial when you’re slicing and dicing.
9. Ice Trays
Can you get by with a standard ice cube tray? Sure, but these large molds will take your coctail game to the next level. Particularly in drinks like the classic old fashioned that requires ice in the glass. The large surface area of these bigger cubes cause them to melt slower which means they won’t dilute your drinks as quickly. They’re all uber impressive to look at in a glass.
10. Mixing Glass
You can certainly build your cocktails in a pint glass but we prefer a more elegant vessel. The traditional mixing glass is weighted, beautiful (for displaying) and has a handy pour spout. Hey, if you’re investing in the rest, we say go for it!
You’ve got a Hawthorne already but traditionally, Juleps are used for straining stirred drinks. They’re low cost and essentially just a big metal spoon with holes designed to use with your mixing glass.
Fine Mesh Strainer
There’s a technique in cocktail world called double straining that’s typcially used with shaken drinks. The drink passes through 2 strainers (the Hawthorne and then a fine mesh) before it reaches the drinking vessel. This creates a clear, smooth cocktail that’s free from any fragments of ice or pulp. You can splurge on a fancy mesh strainer like this Winco extra fine or opt for a more budget friendly option.
Full Bar Sets
Depending on what you’re looking for you can also opt to invest in a full bar set. These are 3 I’m currently obsessed with and each one has a good selection of the essental bar tools we’ve mentioned here. I don’t love the shaker cup in the bamboo set but I do love the bamboo stand! Of course, you’ll want to supplement each of these with whatever else you need but it’s a great place to start.
Now that you’ve got your essentials, you’re ready to start mixing! Check out our ever growing cocktail recipes and let us know what you think. Cheers!
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