We like, no, we love, sharing information about all things cocktails – recipes, history, food pairings – and more. But we haven’t really talked about the essential home bar tools that enable you to be the best home mixologist you can be. Whether it’s just you and your homies hangin’ on a Sunday afternoon or serving a signature cocktail to a dinner party for 20, being confident behind the bar elevates your guests’ experiences. Having a well-stocked bar not only makes you a rock-star bartender, it saves time and money. With this list of the 7 Essential Tools for Your Home Bar, you’ll be more than ready to mix up your favorite drinks any time!
1. Shaker: The Foundation Home Bar Tool
We asked our experts and they agree, a bar shaker is the foundation tool for any home bar. It doesn’t matter if it’s tin on tin or glass on tin shaker sets, find your preference and get to shaking. The shaker you choose doesn’t have to cost $1,200.00 like the one we linked to (made you look!). It just needs to fit your budget and style. The shaker is fundamental because the shaking blends the flavors of your cocktail ingredients. The shimmy and shake also give your drink an airiness to lighten and brighten the flavors. During shaking (add some hip to that shake), the ice cools the liquids to create a consistently cold cocktail to serve sans ice.
2. Hawthorne Strainer: Don’t Strain Yourself
To get that cold cocktail into a glass without ice or other solid form ingredients like citrus, you should (must) have a Hawthorne Bar Strainer and a Julep Strainer. Both strain liquid from the ice or muddled fruits, herbs, or other non-liquid ingredients into your glass. But bartenders use them in different instances. The Hawthorne Strainer has a flat disc with tabs that keep it in place when pouring out the drink. The coil that sits on the inside of the disc holds back anything non-liquid as you transfer from the shaker. (We’re not quite ready to delve into the Julep Strainer, but we will soon. Patience, please.)
3. Mixing Glass: Stirred, Not Shaken
Not every drink should be shaken. Sorry James Bond, but some drinks are meant to be stirred. We won’t judge you if you stir a drink that’s typically shaken or shake a drink that’s typically stirred – as long as you use the proper bar tool. For the stirred variety of cocktails, the home bar tool we recommend is a high-ish quality mixing glass. The mixing glass is typically a heavy-duty glass with a one to two drink capacity. We literally can’t with all the bar tool options that are available on sites like Amazon.com. We suggest picking one that fits your personal style. If it says “YOU” you’ll probably leave it on display and therefore, will be more likely to use it.
4. Bar Spoon: Just a Spoonful of Sugar
You’ve got the glass. Now you need the spoon. (You really need this spoon. In copper. Send us one too, please!) Once again, the options are endless, but a good bar spoon should have a long enough handle to reach the very bottom of the mixing glass. Most of the bar spoons we favor have swizzle stick like stems, are very light and easy to grip. The best mixologists make stirring an art and with the right spoon (and school and experience), you can mimic the masters.
5. and 6. Muddler and Jigger: Time to Muddle and Jig
Muddled fruits and herbs are a dynamic way to layer flavors in your cocktail. But how do you muddle? You start with the right muddler, of course. There’s nothing more badass than a muddler. See for yourself. You have the muddler and the mixing glass. Your ingredients are ready. Time to get your muddle on. After your muddle is muddled, it’s time to add your spirits with a jigger.
A bar jigger is the most necessary of the home bar tools we suggest. It’s a fancy measuring tool that has one side with a one-ounce pour and the other with a half-ounce pour. A jigger is the preferred way to measure (over the classic “counting pour”) because it gives you the exact measurement of spirit to add. Much like baking, mixology needs accuracy in measurements to ensure the balance of ingredients is right.
7. Julep Strainer: Time to Talk About the “Other” Strainer
We bet you were anxious to find out where the Julep Strainer fits in. Your patience is finally rewarded. This particular home bar tool looks like a giant spoon made out of a spaghetti strainer. Its name comes from the Mint Julep, a drink with layers of muddled mint. We love the muddling in the Silk Road. It fits into the mixing glass and holds back the muddled ingredients, straining liquids in the drinking glass. It’s a timeless home bar tool essential for a home mixologist’s toolbox.
Your Tool Box is Full
You have your home bar tools: the shaker, the Hawthorne Strainer, the mixing glass, the bar spoon, the muddler, the jigger, and, last but not least, the julep strainer. You no longer have excuses about why you aren’t whipping up amazing cocktails on the reg. Keep up to date on the tools of the trade and learn about “THE” cocktail you should be shaking (or stirring). Follow us on your favorite social media – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For the best results, “like us” on all three.
Do you have any tips to share, when it comes to essential home bar tools? Please let us know in the comments below.