Now that you have your spirits and mixers all settled in your home bar; naturally, we will move on to the next best thing: bar equipment. Having the right tools are essential to creating delicious cocktails. From cocktail shakers to bar spoons to fine mesh strainers, the essential list of bar tools isn't too long, and a good kit will last you for years. Even though many of these can be easily replaced with some everyday household items, the proper tools will make your life a lot easier.
A jigger is a unique bartending tool to measure out cocktail recipes. Mostly made of metal, jiggers come in various shapes and sizes but typically measure at most 1.5-2.5oz (45-75ml). Some even have the measurements engraved on the inside or outside for accurate measuring. Extremely useful in cocktail making, one quality jigger is all you need to make all the drinks your heart desires.
One of the more iconic items in a bartender's toolkit, a cocktail shaker in hand, can make any amateur feel like a pro. There are several types of cocktail shakers out there, but they all have the same purpose: to mix, dilute, and chill a cocktail. Typically made out of metal and, in some versions, glass, it is crucial to get a good quality shaker to ensure there won't be any spillages and exploding shakers. Here are two types of standard cocktail shakers:
Boston Shaker: The most common cocktail shaker at the bar, Boston Shakers are a two-piece shaker made of a combination of metal on metal or metal and glass.
Cobbler Shaker: The standard bar shaker in Japan, cobbler shakers are a three-piece shaker with a built-in strainer and a removable cap. Its unique design makes this an easy strainer for beginners to start on.
Generally fancy and beautifully designed, mixing glasses are large glasses used to build, mix, chill, and dilute cocktails. Spirit-forward cocktails like a Manhattan, Martini, and Sazerac are all typically made in a mixing glass to then strain into a glass for serving.
These are essential tools in bartending to strain out ice and other solid ingredients in preparing a cocktail. Here are the three common types of strainers you would need in your home bar.
Hawthorne Strainer: This type of strainer typically has a handle and a tightly coiled straining spring to fit snuggly over any glass or shaker without locking onto it. This would be your go-to strainer.
Julep Strainer: Julep strainers resemble large slotted spoons with holes to allow the straining of liquids. This type of strainer is specifically used to strain mixing glasses.
Fine Mesh Strainer: These strainers are usually used in addition to the strainers mentioned above to filter out the unwanted ingredients making it into the cocktail like mint leaves, seeds, and even pieces of ice.
A bar spoon is a long-handled spoon used in bartending to mix and layer ingredients in a cocktail. The long and threaded handle ensures that it can reach the bottom of a mixing glass to mix ingredients easily. The spoon holds about 5ml of liquid (the same as a conventional teaspoon).
This tool is very specifically made for one purpose, muddling. Either made of wood or metal, muddlers are used to press ingredients like mint leaves to release oils and juices.
Y-Peeler or Pairing Knife
The last essential tools on this list are a peeler and a pairing knife. These two tools are used to peel citrus skin for garnish and express oils. Generally considered standard kitchenware, these would come in handy from time to time.
Building a bar kit with all the tools on this list may take some time and cash, so there's no need to go all out and pick all of these up. If I were to make an essential of the essentials list, the first tools to buy are a jigger and cocktail shaker (possibly add a Hawthorne strainer); these three will get you started just fine.
Don't Miss Part 2 of Starting a Home Bar: Mixers