Essential Bar Tools
Many believe that cocktails are a complex craft. Now, there is some truth to that as some mixologists create elaborate concoctions that seem impossible to recreate. However, the majority of cocktails are simple and can be made by anyone, if they have the essential bar tools.
If you’re someone who wants to join cocktail culture, then you’re in the right place. The first step to becoming an amateur mixologist is having the right tools to create a variety of cocktails. However, many struggle with identifying which tools they need while others don’t know what they should be looking for in the first place. Have no fear because we’re going to cover the Seven Essential Bar Tools.
Seven Essential Bar Tools
1. Cocktail Shaker
If you’ve ever watched bartenders work their magic, then you should be familiar with the cocktail shaker. This essential bar tool is needed to make famous cocktails such as a martini or mojito.
For people unfamiliar, the cocktail shaker is a tool mixologists use to add in alcohol, bitters, juices, ice, and whatever other ingredients. After closing the shaker, the whole thing is shaken in order for the ingredients to mix well. When looking for a shaker, you want to find one in the 550ml range as its the perfect size for most amateur bartenders. If you get anything bigger, then you may struggle keeping a handle on it during the shaking process. Moreover, make sure you get a shaker that has a tight fitting lid to avoid making a mess.
2. Cocktail Strainer
While many cocktail shakers have an actual strainer built into the lid, an essential bar tool is a cocktail strainer (sometimes called the Hawthorne Strainer). This is a specially designed strainer that is circular and has springs installed around the sides. The purpose of which is to remove ice from a mixed drink to be poured in to a serving glass.
It will not do great job of straining pulp or small chunks but this is not it's purpose. When you are mixing your drink with ice to chill it, this strainer is important in removing the ice effectively and without making a big mess.
A jigger is just a fancy word for a measuring cup, yet it is still an essential bar tool. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: “I don’t need a damn measuring cup! I’m all for the free pour.” However, much like baking a cake, sometimes it’s best to follow the exact measurements when making a cocktail. This ensures that your cocktail has a balanced flavor and is not overpowered by one element.
Most jiggers are double sided and come in two sizes: one ounce and two ounce. These are the most useful measurements as they represent a single shot and a double shot. So, make sure to “get jiggy with it” when you make your next cocktail.
If you’re planning on using any herbs, fruits, or spices in your cocktails, then a muddler is an essential bar tool. A muddler is made of wood or metal and is used to crush these ingredients to release their natural oils into the cocktail.
While many people swear by wooden muddlers, wood can sometimes be troublesome as it is a porous material that can absorb flavors over time. Thus, many people prefer metal muddlers as they don’t run this risk. If you choose to go with a metal muddler, make sure it has a covered tip, so you don’t risk breaking your glass. Having one of these in your bar gives the illusion that you’re an expert mixologist.
5. Cocktail Spoon
Of all the items on the list of Seven Essential Bar Tools, this one is the most self-explanatory. A stir spoon is for, you guessed it, stirring drinks. Cocktail spoons for bartending are made with a very long long handle and a twisted design. Typically it also has a stand on the bottom to keep it standing on a surface with out contaminating the spoon itself.
There is a proper way to use a cocktail spoon. Since stirring alcohol does not need to be forcefully mixed, a cocktail spoon requires a specific technique to glide the spoon along the wall of the glass without making a huge disturbance to the ice. The twisted design helps to make this twisting motion easier and more fluid. Here is an example of someone using a cocktail spoon properly.
6. Cork Opener
I think all of us have had a moment when we wanted to enjoy a bottle of wine, but didn't have a cork opener. Perhaps you managed to find your old pocket knife or you tried opening the bottle using a shoe. I’ve even heard stories of people who desperately used a knife to push the cork into the wine itself, which forced them to enjoy a corky wine afterwards.
Well, having a cork opener will allow you to avoid these situations in the future. There are many styles of cork openers out there, and you should find one that works for you. One popular model has the user insert a corkscrew into the cork itself, then uses a lever system to easily remove the cork. I find these cork openers work the best as they don’t rely on as much brute force as other styles.
7. Pouring spouts
The final item on our list of essential bar tools is pouring spouts. If you’ve ever been to a bar, you’ve seen these sticking out of all the bottles. Pouring spouts allow bartenders to pour specific amounts of alcohol into jiggers, cocktail shakers, or glasses. For anyone who has tried to pour from a full bottle, the risk of spilling increases significantly. However, pour spouts avoid this problem as they control the stream of liquid coming from the bottle. Moreover, spouts allow you to pour the drink from a far distance, which makes a nice visual effect.
Since most will have at least a few bottles of booze in their bars, it’s important to have a few pour spouts. Just make sure those spouts are properly installed, or you’re going to have a mess on your hands.
And that’s our list of the Seven Essential Bar Tools. While it may not cover every cocktail tool, these are the tools that any amateur or professional mixologist should have. We hope this clears up any questions and allows you to enter the world of cocktail culture. Mix well.