So you’ve stocked your home bar with all your favorite spirits and maybe you’ve found that perfect bar cart, but now what? With so many products out there, we turned to professional bartenders, home mixologists, cocktail nerds and liquor enthusiasts to help compile a list of tools. Here are our favorite essential utensils and maybe some not so necessary (but ultimately awesome) finds.
Definitely an essential tool for both the home and professional bartender, the shaker allows you to quickly chill your cocktail while controlling the amount of dilution. There are many different kinds of shakers out there, but for now we'll concentrate on the two most popular, the Boston and the cobbler.
The Cobbler Shaker: a 3 piece tin shaker consisting of a top, a bottom and a built in strainer with a cap.
The Boston Shaker: A 2 piece shaker consisting of a bottom tin and a pint sized tempered glass that fits snugly into the larger tumbler. The Boston Shaker can also be all tin.
So, which is better? It all boils down to personal preference. The advantage of building a drink in a pint glass is that you can see all the ingredients however, metal chills faster than glass so there will be less dilution. For novice home bartenders or those who don’t want to acquire extra tools, we recommend the cobbler as you won’t need a separate strainer.
Best for cocktail enthusiasts
Cocktail Kingdom's Koriko shakers are super popular among bartenders and for good reason. The relatively thin edges make for a great seal and easy separation after shaking. It can hold up to two drinks at a time and with a stainless steel finish, you can just toss them in the dishwasher when you’re finished.
Best for the fashionable bar
We love this True Ash 18 Oz shaker mostly because it just looks cool. With a matte black finish, this stylish and elegant 18oz stainless steel shaker will certainly make your bar cart pop. It also features a built in cap and strainer so it is a great choice for those who don’t want to clutter their bar with extra tools.
OXO is known for their quality and their Good Grips Cocktail Shaker is no different. This reasonably priced shaker is perfect for the beginner home bartender. The double-wall insulated plastic shaker with a built-in strainer makes quick and easy cocktails. The cap also features measurement markings and the side grip is non-slip providing comfort even when wet.
There are 3 types of cocktail strainers, the Hawthorne, the Julep and the fine mesh strainer. With so many styles to choose from, we have recommended our favorite one from each category. If you are using a cobbler shaker you don’t necessarily need a strainer because it already has one built in. However you might consider double straining through a fine mesh strainer to remove any pulp or ice chips that might have slipped through. If you’re trying to decide between the Hawthorne and Julep, ask yourself what kind of drinks you plan on mostly making and follow this simple rule: Hawthorne for shaken, Julep for stirred. If you had to get just one, go for the Hawthorne as it would work for both.
Hawthorne Strainer: This disk shaped tool with a handle and a spring or coil around the edge is used to strain shaken cocktails.
Julep Strainer: A spoon shaped strainer with holes used to strain stirred drinks.
Fine Mesh Strainer: A conical shaped metal sieve used to strain small bits of fruit, herbs and ice chips.
A Bar Above's lightweight, ergonomically designed, stainless steel strainer fits most cocktail shakers and mixing glasses. It will never rust and is the perfect accessory for any bar. We recommend this stylish strainer for both the novice and the pro. Want to really impress your friends? Try this while straining: push down on the body of this strainer as you pour. The liquid will separate into two streams and you’ll be able to strain into two different glasses at the same time!
Durable, stainless steel and dishwasher safe, the Barfly Julep Strainer checks all of our boxes. Fitting most mixing glasses and shakers, and manufactured for precision, control and consistency, this strainer is great for the professional as well as the home fanatic.
Homestia’s Fine Mesh Strainer was designed for extracting pulp, seeds and ice chips from your cocktail leaving you with a silky smooth drink. The stainless steel strainer comes in 4 different colors to match your kitchen or home bar and can also be used for tea, grounds, flour, etc. It’s 3.3 inches in diameter and 9 inches long.
Best Cocktail Strainer Set
Created by a bartender for bartenders, A Bar Above makes quality products known for efficiency and durability. With all three strainers, you’ll be prepared to make any cocktail. From Mojitos to fruity Margaritas, Manhattans or Old Fashions this kit has you covered! And we just love the packaging!
Used to quickly chill cocktails, these containers can either be glass or metal. Old school romantics may prefer the elegant look of glass while high volume speed bartenders may choose the more durable metal. Both have their pros and cons. Glass looks prettier while metal chills quicker and won’t break. But if you’re not putting out hundreds of cocktails a night you might decide to go with whichever suits your home bar best.
I’ve used the MOFADO Crystal Cocktail Mixing Glass for years! Not only is it just nice to look at, the 100% lead-free crystal mixing glass is as durable as it is functional. It features a weighted base which makes it difficult to tip over while stirring and a seamless design that won’t crack or chip easily.
Best for Beginners
(comes with a recipe book!)
The Barillio Crystal stylish mixing glass is an elegant and practical device for your home bar. Holding 20 ounces, the glass boasts a unique diamond design that helps you grip the glass while holding and the weighted base adds stability and balance. But we think the best part is that it’s accompanied my an eBook and a pocket-sized booklet with stirred cocktail recipes, techniques and tips!
This stunning 7 inch tall, fine crystal mixing glass from Riedel holds 22 ounces and is the perfect tool for the ornate home bartender.
Handcrafted from premium stainless steel, durable and unbreakable, this mixing glass from LVBE won’t rust, shatter or crack and is dishwasher safe. With it’s sleek and stylish diamond pattern it will stand out on your bar. Contrary to glass, the double-ply steel will keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold without burning your fingers or accumulating condensation. Perfect for mixing coffee drinks or hot toddy’s!
Another key tool to have in your kit, the bar spoon, is a long handled spoon holding approximately 5 milliliters (same as a teaspoon). Resembling an iced tea spoon, its length allows for mixing at the bottom of pitchers and tall glasses. The handle is usually decorative and threaded so your fingers can easily grip and stir.
Best Inexpensive Barspoon
Perfectly balanced, dishwasher safe, versatile, economical and professional. What else could you want from a bar spoon? The HIWARE 12 inch length is ideal for stirring drinks in taller mixing glasses and will easily reach the bottom of any cocktail shaker. Perfect for your home bar or professional use!
This one caught our eye simply because of the fun colors available but they are great stirrers too. If you opted for the matte black shaker above, you definitely need a matching Zulay black bar spoon! These 12 inch, stainless steel, weighted stirrers make an exquisite addition to your home bar.
Any utensil used to mash fruit and herbs could technically be called a muddler, but not all are created equal and this just might be the best I’ve ever used. The sustainable, 100% bamboo Mojito Muddler is free of any stains or lacquers so there’s no need to worry about contaminants seeping into your cocktails. Say goodbye to bruised knuckles with 11 inches that will easily reach the bottom of tall glasses and pitchers. (Most muddlers are only 8-10 inches) It also comes with a lifetime warranty.
We love products that are easy to clean and this HQY Stainless Steel muddler is dishwasher safe and won’t rust or peel. The textured rubber bottom is firm enough to crush fruit yet has a bit of give so it won’t damage your glass or tin wear.
If you prefer a smaller wooden muddler with groves at the bottom we like this straight forward, light weight, bamboo muddler from Harold Import Co. It measures 8.5 inches and features a rounded handle that is comfortable to grip. Bamboo is always a great eco-friendly choice too!
Knives and Cutting Boards
Most likely you’ll already have these items at home. The two knives I mainly use are a 4 inch pairing knife and an 8 inch chef’s knife. A paring knife might be the used more frequently than any other knife in your kitchen and while the majority are made of stainless steel the higher amount of carbon determines the quality and strength. You can find knives at a wide range of prices, but paying a little more for a forged, full tang blade that feels balanced in your hands might be worth it. The pairing knife is great for cutting lemons, limes and garnishes however I use the chef’s knife for larger fruit like pineapple. Some blades are easier to sharpen than others and keeping your blade sharp is key for good food prep and will minimize accidents. If you choose well, your knives can last a lifetime. As for cutting boards, any material will do however, rubber-composition boards harbor less bacteria and are easier to clean than wood. Though wooden boards are generally kinder on blades than other materials like plastic.
Best Self Sharpening Paring Knife
With a built-in sharpener inside the Farberware EdgeKeeper’s protective sheath, you’ll never have to worry about this blade getting dull. Featuring a comfortable grip and high-quality carbon steel blade, this knife is both durable and affordable.
With high carbon, stain resistant steel from Soligen, Germany, this 3.5 inch paring knife from Mercer is a fantastic and affordable tool. It also features a full tang handle for superior balance and the tapered ground edge allows for stability and long lasting sharpness.
Designed for precision and crafted for superior control, the high-quality Japanese Damascus Paring Knife has a pointed spear tip for unbeatable accuracy. Its elegant pakkawood handle is perfectly balanced and ergonomically designed for ultimate comfort.
Incredibly strong and razor sharp the DALSTRONG 8 inch Chef Knife boasts outstanding craftsmanship with high-carbon imported German steel and a polished 16-18 degree edge. Tempered and stain resistant to last a lifetime the Dalstrong backs its warranty with 100% satisfaction or your money back.
Best of the Best 8" Knife
If you’re looking to splurge on a gorgeous, lightweight, all-purpose knife, the Shun Classic Blonde 8 inch Chef's Knife is a great option. The high-carbon VG-MAX steel cutting core is covered in 34 layers of Damascus cladding to provide endurance and exquisite cutting power. Full tang with a blonde pakkawood handle, this suburb cutting tool is well worth the spend.
The Black Hawk Series 8 inch Chef Knife from TUO is as beautiful as it is functional. Its high-carbon stainless steel blade is vacuum heat-treated and nitrogen cryogenic tempered to ensure superb hardness and lasting performance. This knife is very comfortable and balanced in hand and features a black pakkawood handle with triple silver rivets and a full-tang structure.
No doubt you already have a cutting board in your kitchen, but are you looking for the perfect little board just for slicing lemons and making cocktail garnishes? Look no further. The nonslip Epicurean 9.5 inch Food Prep and Bar Board has a juice groove built in so you can say goodbye to citrus sticky countertops. It is meticulously designed for everyday use and the durable, nonporous board is heat-resistant up to 350 degrees and dishwasher safe!
Not the first OXO product to show up on our list! The double-sided plastic surfaces resist odors and won’t dull your knives. Soft, tapered edges offer comfortable handles for carrying and non-slip feet keep boards from sliding while cutting. We love that this comes in a set of two with a 7.25” x 10.75” prep board and a 9” x 12.9” everyday board.
For those who prefer a solid block cutting board, this hand-selected, sustainable, hard cherry wood from John Boos makes a gorgeous addition to any bar or kitchen. Its versatile design allows for use of both sides and the wood itself is resistant to moisture. Low maintenance care only requires quick hand washing.