If you’re ready to get serious about making cocktails, you’re going to need a few tools. Yes, you can make a gin & tonic with just a paring knife and an appropriate glass, but if you need something to be measured, shaken, or stirred you’re going to need a few additional kitchen gadgets.
Think of this guide as the starter set to building out your home bar. You might already have a cocktail shaker and a channel knife that creates citrus peel curls, but there are a few more things that will help... you take your cocktail skills to the next level. Here are the best bar tools on the market whether you’re just building your bar or you’re ready to upgrade.
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If you want to make cocktails that are shaken, not stirred you’re going to need a cocktail shaker. This one from Innovee is make from rust-proof stainless steel, which means it will hold up to lots of cocktail making. Plus, stainless steel doesn’t retain odors or stains, so go ahead and use all those exotic ingredients without worry. The Innovee shaker also seals tightly, so there’s no concern about spillage as you’re shaking.
In addition to the 24-ounce shaker with a built-in strainer, this set... comes with a jigger for measuring liquors and spirits and an e-book of recipes. So if you’re truly a novice, you won’t have to look far to learn a few classic cocktails. You’ll be able to make a drink or two in this shaker, but not a whole batch, so if you’re making drinks for a party, you’ll want to start early, or have guests shake their own to avoid spending all night making drinks.
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A jigger might just be the second most important bar tool you can own since you’ll need it to measure out how many ounces of vodka, gin, or whiskey go in your cocktails. This double-sided jigger from OXO is pretty standard with a few improvements that have propelled it to best-seller status.
First off, the jigger is stainless steel, but with a rubberized middle to create a non-slip grip. That way you won’t have to worry about it slipping out of your hands when it’s full.
Second, like most jiggers,... each side measures a different amount of liquid, but unlike many options on the market, the OXO jigger also has etched in markings to make it easier to precisely pour a great range. The larger side of the jigger has a 1 ½-ounce capacity and also has markings for ¾-ounce and 1/3-ounce amounts. The smaller side has a 1-ounce capacity and also measures 1/4-ounce and ½-ounce increments.
Finally, this jigger is dishwasher safe, which makes cocktail party cleanup a breeze.
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We know what you’re thinking, you have a drawer full of spoons in your kitchen, why do you need a special one for your bar? The benefit of the bar spoon is that it is easy to twirl in a mixing glass which is crucial to cocktail making.
The long handle has a ridged spiral all the way up to the top making it perfect for twirling between your fingers. After all, with stirred cocktails this is how you chill the drink to the right temperature. This bar spoon is also ideal for measuring out ingredients... that you only need a teaspoon or a dash of. And you won’t have to worry about your hand getting cold as you stir, the handle of the spoon won’t freeze up no matter how long you stir.
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What’s the secret to a really well-made drink? The garnish. Whether it’s a cherry or a sprig of herbs, you don’t want to skip this important part of your cocktail. If the drinks you’re making call for orange, lemon, or lime peel, you’ll need a channel knife or a zester—or a combination of the two, like this gadget from OXO.
The five circular blades at the very end of the tool are the zester portion. They create identical, thin ribbons of citrus zest that can go in your drink. If you want a... slightly wider garnish, you’ll want to use the channel knife portion of the combo, which is the blade in the center. Just be careful as both blades are incredibly sharp. Thank goodness the handle is easy to hold and has a non-slip grip. And for even more good news, this gadget is dishwasher-safe.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Take a cue from the professional bartenders and invest in a set of these stainless steel bottle pourers. It makes your cocktail making that much easier when you can pour with precision and not worry about spilling. The stainless steel pourers can actually replace the caps on your most frequently used liquor bottles, and you won’t have to worry about your bottles being open thanks to the attached dust cap.
If you don’t have a dozen bottles on your bar (yet), you can also use these pourers for... olive oil, vinegar, wine, or simple syrup. They fit standard glass bottles and make pouring a lot less messy.
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If you prefer cocktails that are stirred, not shaken, you’ll need a mixing glass. Similar in shape to a beaker, but much fancier, this mixing glass from Hiware has a sturdy base and a diamond cut pattern on the sides of the glass. At 24-ounces, it is large enough to mix one or two cocktails at a time, and can handle the large ice cubes that are popular at the moment.
The pouring spout makes it easy to get drinks into your glass, although a strainer is recommended to keep the ice and any herbs or... fruits you might have muddled in the cocktail from splashing. Since the manufacturer doesn’t give information on whether the lead-free glass is dishwasher safe, it’s best to hand wash it to keep it in good shape.
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Whether you’re pouring from a shaker or a mixing glass, you don’t want the ice that you chilled your drink with to end up in your glass. That’s where a strainer comes in handy. This Hawthorne-style strainer from OXO is at the top of the charts thanks to a few thoughtful details. The handle on this strainer is considerable shorter than many others which makes it easier to store and easier to use. The non-slip finger grip also makes it easier to grip the strainer when you’re holding it against the... glass and pouring. The raised lip near the coil, also prevents any liquids from leaking out of unexpected places while you’re pouring. Once happy hour is over, toss it in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
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Mojitos, anyone? If so, then you’ll definitely need a muddler. This stainless steel muddler with a grooved rubber tip is just what you need to mash up fruits and herbs into your cocktails. You’ll release the juices and oils in those fresh ingredients to make the best cocktail possible.
The muddler measures eight inches long, so it’ll fit in any mixing or drinking glass with ease. To keep it in good shape, hand wash it instead of putting it in the dishwasher.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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For most bar tasks, you'll really only need a handheld citrus juicer, and this one from Zulay is the best. It is incredibly sturdy and has two sized squeezing inserts for large or small citrus fruits, and can even handle larger citrus like grapefruits if you slice them into quarters.
Made of coated aluminum, it will last for years. Just keep in mind that it should be hand washed for best results, and because small seeds can sometimes slip through, it's best to juice over a fine mesh... strainer.
If you need a juicer for additional fruits or vegetables, check out our guide to the best masticating and centrifugal juicers to buy.
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Of course, you can't have a quality, crafted cocktail without the right kind of ice. Large cubes and ice spheres have been popular in the cocktail world the past few years, and with this ice tray set from Glacio, you won't have to choose between the two shapes.
The BPA-free silicone trays each make six cubes at a time, and are easy to empty thanks to their flexible construction. The other benefit of silicone, is that you won't have to worry about the molds cracking when you twist to... remove the cubes like you do with traditional trays.
And even though you're just filling them with water, it's a good idea to clean them every couple of uses, which is easy since they are dishwasher-safe.
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