Must-have tools for your home bar
There are all manner of cocktail shakers out there, but the style most preferred by bartenders is the multi-tasking Boston. A two-for-one combo of ultra-useful pieces of equipment—a 28-ounce shaker tin and a pint glass—the shaker is used to (duh) shake together mixed drinks that are served frothy, such as flips, sours and fizzes. For stirred drinks—more on those in a sec—just pile your ingredients into the glass.
Boston shaker, $8.99 at awesomedrinks.com
Once you shake that beautiful drink, you’ll need to strain out the ice, as well as any flavorings such as muddled fruit or fresh herbs. To do so, reach for an inexpensive but effective Hawthorne strainer: with prongs that fit flush against a standard shaker tin plus coils that trap any solid items, a quick pour through this baby will have your drink pristine and ready to serve in seconds flat.
OXO Hawthorne strainer, $6.99 at amazon.com
Most bartenders worth their salt would be put off by Bond’s famous request for a shaken, not stirred, martini. That’s because shaking an all-spirits cocktail such as a martini, Manhattan or negroni incorporates far too much air and adds way too much water (from the melting ice) into what should be a dense, smooth drink. For these cocktails, chill the ingredients down in your shaker tin, then stir gently but persistently with a long-handled bar spoon. Strain with your Hawthorne, and it’s bottoms-up.
Bar spoon with muddler, $6.95 at crateandbarrel.com
An essential ingredient for adding both lightness and acidity to a drink, citrus juice is found in all manner of cocktails, from daiquiris to sours. A home bar must be stocked with a quick and effective citrus juicer: we like a hinge-style hand squeezer that only requires one free hand yet is powerful enough to wring every drop of juice from a lemon, lime or orange—like this model from Bellemain.
Bellemain lemon squeezer, $19.95 at amazon.com
Chances are your local fancy-pants bartender uses a metal jigger to measure cocktail ingredients, but that tool is really meant for pros, whose steady hands are less prone to spillage than the average novice. At home, better to measure out spirits with a four-ounce capacity shot glass, with lines to clearly delineate each ounce and half-ounce.
Mini measuring glass, $6.87 at amazon.com
Many cocktail recipes end with a final flourish of citrus: a lemon twist garnish (martini), an orange peel rubbed around the rim of the glass (old-fashioned). Any home bartender needs a trusty vegetable peeler: one that’s super-sharp and will easily strip citrus of its peel without lifting any of the bitter pith. This classic model from Swiss maker Kuhn Rikon is our favorite.
Kuhn Rikon peeler, $7.30 at amazon.com
When mixing up drinks at home, it’s important to put away a large quantity of glass-ready ice—and if you’re not lucky enough to possess an automatic icemaker, that means investing in some good-quality ice trays. To keep them potent and not too watered-down, we like to strain our drinks over extra-large ice cubes, which pop out of their mold easily thanks to super-stretchy silicone.
Jumbo silicone ice cube tray, $7.95 at crateandbarrel.com
When it comes to barware, you really only need three types of glasses for serving your lovingly crafted drinks: rocks and highball (more on those to follow), plus a stem glass in either a coupe or V-shape—your choice. Used for serving “up” (i.e. no rocks) cocktails including martinis, Manhattans and daiquiris, stemmed glasses lift the drink away from your warm hands, meaning the just-strained cocktails will stay colder, longer—even without ice in them. We slightly prefer coupes over V-glasses, just because they’re less likely to tip over, a feature that becomes all the more desirable after you’ve knocked back a few.
6-coupe set, $36 at westelm.com
Also known as an old-fashioned glass for the cocktail most often served in it, rocks glasses typically come in either a six- to eight-ounce size (a traditional rocks size) or a 12- to 14-ounce size (a double). Easier to find these days than the traditional version, double rocks glasses are handy for built-in-the-glass cocktails like the glass’s namesake, as well as negronis and mint juleps, while the traditional size is perfect for serving a few thumbs of straight liquor over ice.
6-double old fashioned set, $24 at westelm.com
“Long” drinks—usually a few ounces of spirits extended with plenty of mixer such as tonic or soda—are served in these tall, eight-to-12-ounce-capacity glasses. Aside from your classic gin and tonics, vodka and sodas and whisky gingers, these vessels traditionally hold fizzes, rickeys and gimlets, too.
6-highball set, $30 at westelm.com