Even though I am frequently traveling, I do enjoy making cocktails at home. I have a nice selection of liquor, bitters, and mixers, but the tools are key. People have asked me what my favorite cocktail tools are in the past, so I am bringing them to you here. I have purchased all of these items for myself and the prices are reasonable. When you’re making drinks at home, there’s no wrong way, but these definitely make it easier. Here are the tools every home bartender needs, just in time for your holiday shopping!
Essential Bartending Tools
There are SO many options for shakers, and I have used quite a few. I love the versatility of a simple, weighted set like this one. I like using one for squeezing fresh juices into or for getting ice. They form a good seal, keeping your kitchen or bar area clean. Your hands will get pretty cold during an egg white shake, but that also helps me time 20 seconds. When I can’t stand it any more, I know I’m done!
It’s probably weird to say that a jigger brings me joy, but this one does. The fact that you can switch between cocktails without residual flavors and make precise and angled measurements. So genius, I actually have two.
Chef’n makes a hand juicer for lemons, limes, and oranges. Depending on the size of your fruit, the orange juicer works great on grapefruits and oranges, and the lemon juicer works well for lemons and limes. The best thing about these juicers is how well-made and sturdy they are. You can put a lot of pressure on them and they can take it. They also strain out seeds easily, which can’t be done well with an old-fashioned style reamer.
It doesn’t matter if your cocktail is shaken or stirred, you’re going to need a good strainer, or two. I love the OXO strainer for most jobs because it’s flexible and easy to clean. The conical mesh strainer comes in handy for egg white cocktails and straining out muddled berry seeds. I also like that the handle on the cone strainer as it sits easily on a glass while you pour liquid through it.
I love a good mixing spoon. It makes me feel like a real bartender when I mix a drink or use it for a quick taste of whatever I just created. There are many different kinds – ones with little forks on the other end to stab a cherry, straight handled ones, and ones that have different handles at the end. I like to keep it classic and simple with one similar to this one.
I got this for Christmas a couple of years ago and I love it so much. Not only does it make it easy to keep my things organized, but it’s also ready to go with me to a friend’s house. It’s sturdy, washable, and fits easily in my cabinet. Definitely not a must-have but if you are giving the essentials as a gift, this is a great way to make it look like a complete set.
I obviously like OXO-brand cocktail tools. They are affordable, well-made, and you can find them almost anywhere that sells kitchen tools. This muddler is strong and the teeth are capable of tearing the toughest mint for your caipirinha or mojito. I also have a more traditional wooden muddler but I hate that it gets stained easily when crushing berries.
I know everyone probably has a million cutting boards, but this one is portable and keeps me from cutting fruit on the counter. It also fits easily into the larger section of the metal organizer above, so that makes me happy.
When I started mixing cocktails at home, I thought everything was supposed to be shaken. Once I learned better, I bought a classy mixing glass. This one is nice for several reasons. It’s big enough to make two drinks at once, a strainer fits into it easily, and it’s rounded on the inside which makes it easy to stir in. If you make more stirred than shaken cocktails, this might move up to the ‘Essentials’ list above.
As I am sure you know, there are many other things you can buy if you want. Ice cube trays, tongs, pour spouts for liquor bottles, and more. If it makes you happy, get it, but I think these are the tools every home bartender needs. And if you’re looking for a few recipes to try, check out some of mine on the blog and Instagram. Cheers!
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