A good mixologist needs a full set of bar tools in order to create new mixed drinks and craft cocktails. If you’re passionate about mixology and want to build your own home bar to create new signature drinks and cutting edge concoctions, take some time to learn about standard bar tools and how to use them. Whether you’re a professional bartender or an amateur, having a good set of bar tools and a working knowledge of how to use them will allow you to make precise and well-crafted drinks for years to come.
17 Essential Mixology Tools for Home Bartending
A good bar is stocked with a variety of barware and glassware. Part of bartending is learning about each piece of bar equipment and the technique to use it appropriately. Here’s a list of basic bar tools and a short description of how each tool can be used:
- Bar cart: A bar cart is a rolling shelving unit meant to house essential bar tools, spirits, and ingredients in place of a full bar. Bar carts are a great place to stock a bar and bar tool set, especially if you are pressed for space in a smaller home or apartment.
- Bottle opener: A handheld or wall-mounted bottle opener is a necessary bar tool for home bartenders. Bottle openers allow you to quickly open bottles of beer and mixers with ease.
- Carafes: Carafes are handleless wide-brimmed bottles for storing wine. Carafes are a great way to store and serve wine during a cocktail hour or dinner party.
- Cutting board: A good home bar should be stocked with at least a couple of cutting boards in order to prepare the garnishes and ingredients for a variety of cocktails. Having a few on hand will allow you to alternate cutting boards and prepare drinks for longer periods of time without having to wash your cutting board.
- Cocktail shaker: A cocktail shaker set is a must-have in order to prepare any shaken cocktail. There are a variety of types of cocktail shakers to choose from. As long as your shaker is durable and made of a strong material like stainless steel, it should do the trick. Whether you end up buying a cobbler shaker or a Boston shaker will depend on personal preference and how much you’re willing to spend.
- Cocktail glasses: A good bar needs a full set of cocktail glasses for a variety of mixed drinks. Margaritas and Manhattans aren’t meant to be served in the same style cocktail glass, and it’s important to have the appropriate glassware for the types of drinks you think you’ll be serving most. A decent set of tumblers and Martini glasses can get you started, but you’ll want to build a more diverse collection as you go.
- Grater: A grater, peeler, and zester set allows you to prepare citrus fruits to use as garnishes in a variety of ways. Different drinks call for different types of garnishes, and a good grater will allow you flexibility in the types of garnishes you choose to prepare.
- Ice bucket: Every bar needs a supply of ice. Whether this is a full industrial ice maker or a hotel ice bucket, the important thing is to have an insulated and clean place to keep ice for use in drinks. Some bartenders prefer to use an artisanal ice mold to make ice mounds instead of regular ice cubes. Whatever ice-making method you choose, just make sure you have a designated place that will keep your ice cold.
- Jigger: A jigger is an hourglass-shaped measuring tool that is a staple of any bar set. One side of a jigger is a measuring cup for a standard shot, and on the other is a measuring cup for a slightly smaller “pony” shot.
- Juicer: Though juicers are not an absolute necessity, they are a great tool for home bartenders looking to incorporate fresh juices into their mixology. A citrus juicer is a versatile mixology tool because it allows you to create your own mixed juice blends to produce the perfect flavor profile for your craft cocktails.
- Julep strainer: A good strainer is one of the essential tools of every home bar. Julep strainers were invented to hold back crushed ice in Mint Juleps, but they are now used as functional strainers for preparing a variety of cocktails. Hawthorne strainers are another type of strainer that can be used in place of Julep strainers.
- Mixing glasses: A durable mixing glass gives you a designated place to stir and combine ingredients for cocktails. Some mixing glasses are designed with decorative etchings and can be a nice decorative addition to the top of your bar.
- Muddler: Muddling is the process of grinding and smashing ingredients for use in a cocktail. A good muddler should be sturdy and durable enough to survive years of vigorous muddling.
- Pourers: Liquor pourers allow bartenders to precisely measure their pours without having to rely on measuring cups. A good pourer restricts the flow of liquor, allowing trained bartenders to rely on their muscle memory to determine how long to pour for a standard shot or another designated unit of measure.
- Shot glasses: Shot glasses are used both to measure ingredients for mixed drinks and serve spirits neat. A good home bar should be well-stocked with sturdy shot glasses.
- Stirrer: Cocktail stirrers are long stirring implements that allow bartenders to quickly mix a stirred drink without splashing ingredients onto the bar top. A bar spoon can also be used for stirring if you don’t have a stirrer on hand.
- Wine key: A wine key is a useful tool for bartenders that allows them to open both wine and beer bottles quickly. One side of a wine key has a corkscrew that flips out from the handle, while the other has a metal implement that can be used to pop the cap off a beer bottle.
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