IF YOU WANT to throw a cocktail party or set up a home bar, you’re going to need a good set of shiny tools. As well as producing delicious drinks, cocktail-making sets can be works of art. Buy a new matching set or keep an eye out in vintage and antique stores for the occasional gem. Some pieces of equipment are essential, while others will just make your life a little bit easier. The most important tools you need are a jigger, shaker, and bar spoon.
The most important piece of equipment, this fine measuring tool allows you to accurately measure even the smallest amounts. If you can find one with lined measurements on the inside, it’s even more useful. Hold between your index and middle fingers and start by pouring very slowly until you get confident. This ensures that your measurements are accurate and your cocktails balanced.
You can either buy a three-piece shaker with a built-in strainer (as pictured) or a two-piece Boston shaker. The latter is made of two tins that slot together, and you’ll need a separate strainer. For beginners, a three-piece is recommended, as they are a little easier to use.
3. BAR SPOON
This is used to stir your cocktails. The best bar spoons have a long, twisted handle, which allows you to stir between your middle and ring fingers with minimal movement.
4. MIXING GLASS OR TIN
If necessary, this can be substituted with the bottom half of a shaker; however, a custom mixing glass with ease of stirring and a lip for pouring will make your experience a lot smoother. They are also incredibly elegant—a great mantelpiece decoration when not in use!
5. FINE STRAINER
Essentially, a very small sieve. We fine strain a cocktail with any little bits of fruit, seeds, leaves, or small shards of ice to prevent dilution. Use this alongside your Hawthorne strainer when the recipes call for “double straining.”
For squishing ingredients! Great to use with fresh fruit to extract juices or any herb to gently bruise to release flavor. Essentially the same as a pestle used in cooking.
7. HAWTHORNE STRAINER
When using a two-piece Boston shaker, this is your best friend for removing the liquid and leaving ice and unwanted ingredients in the tin. A spring coil will fit the top of nearly any shaker, holding back all the solid ingredients and only allowing the liquid through to your glass.
For hygiene purposes. No matter how clean you think your hands are, please don’t put them in your guest’s drink. Use tongs. Work clean. Look elegant and professional.
The explanation is in the name. Make sure to strain out any seeds and pulp where possible. Always juice fresh, either on the day if you’re having a party or while making the drink.
10. PEELER AND ZESTER
A knife will do, but a peeler is a little simpler to use and cuts more rind with less pith—a lot harder to do with a knife alone. Peel and zest are components in many cocktails, so these tools will come in handy.
ONCE GIVEN away with almost every long cocktail, plastic straws seem set to become a thing of the past. If you prefer to drink with a straw, there are many alternative, environmentally friendly options out there. Colorful paper straws can double as a drink decoration, and bamboo straws make a good, sustainable choice. If you want something to last longer, many reusable straws are made from metal or flexible rubber and come complete with cleaning kits.