Thursday, September 4, 2014

{the essential cocktail tools}

We make a lot of cocktails around here and have a pretty healthy bar situation filled with interesting spirits, bitters and cocktail accessories.  While I love cute little embroidered cocktail napkins, fun drink stirrers and gold plated bar accessories those just aren't the things that make a good cocktail.  Today I thought I would round up the essential tools that are the work horses of creating cocktails in our house.  Check out below for how we use each of these and where to buy!

1.  Boston Shaker & glass: Just don't bother with regular cocktail shakers like this- a classic Boston shaker is what you want in your life.  Build the cocktail in the glass side, add ice to the metal side, pour liquid into metal side, firmly close together and shake like your life depends on it.

2.  Barspoon:  We picked up this one in Paris and I'm obsessed it.  Besides having a nice weight to it and the perfect twist on the handle it also includes small measurement in the spoon area.  This little guy makes negroni cocktails possible and that is important to me.

3.  Julep Strainer:  This type of strainer is generally used for stirred cocktails along with the Yarai mixing glass (see #9).  You do not need to spend a lot of money on this tool (although like most things in life the luxury option is available). 

4.  Jiggers:  We have three sets of jiggers, but these two are the ones we use constantly for getting that perfectly measured cocktail.  One is sized 1oz to 2oz and the other is sized 1/2 oz to 3/4oz.  I find that those sizes suit my needs pretty well along with the barspoon for even smaller measurements.  Like the strainer above- you don't need to spend a ton on these, but I would recommend getting something a bit nicer as a heavy weighted jigger will make it easier to use. 

5.  Hawthorne Strainer: This little guy is the boyfriend to the Boston Shaker (#1) and you will need it to make drinking shaken cocktails possible.  Since it will be used in most of the cocktails you make, it would be best to get a nicer quality strainer- the good news is that this one is $7 and works like a dream!

6.  Garnish picks:  I bought these on a whim at Crate & Barrel and they were accompanied by a large eye roll on Chris' part, but we actually use them all the time.  I love their classy and simple look- perfect for spearing Luxardo cherries in a Manhattan

7. Straw-spoons:  This is another case of something that was bought more as gimmick, but has also proven to be a staple.  The perfect marriage of stir spoon and straw in one- I use these for almost every cocktail served in a highball glass. 

8.  Citrus Juicer:  They make these for limes and oranges as well- I would definitely not waste your time buying the lime one since limes fit in the lemon one.  Even though limes and lemons would fit in the one made for oranges I don't prefer to use the orange one as it is pretty large and unwieldy. 

9. Yarai Mixing Glass:  Just look at this thing- do you even need me to tell you what I use it for to want it? Probably not- it's pretty cut crystal you'll want to buy one of these just because.  It's used for stirred cocktail FYI.  Could you make stirred cocktails in the glass side of the Boston Shaker? Yes.  But the height and size of the Yarai mixing glass makes it perfect for getting your stir on with plenty of ice.  We use it for negronis, manhattans and sazeracs.

10. Wood Muddler: There have been times when I can't find our muddler and have had to make a mint julep or caipirinha with the back of a wooden spoon. That situation is wrong and it makes me appreciate having a nice muddler on hand- you should too. 

11. Champagne stopper:  This. Guy. Is. The. Best.  While its not actually a cocktail accessory, I do find myself using champagne in a lot of our cocktails and this little puppy really extends the life (aka bubbles) of a bottle.  Why not get it in gold while you're at it?

Not pictured:  I realized after grabbing all our tools, I forgot one of the most important things: ice molds.  We use three different ice molds on a regular basis.  Small square for mixing, Large Square for old fashioned glasses and Long Rectangle for high ball glasses. 

If you didn't notice- I love to use Amazon to buy most of the items on this list (as well as just about everything else in life), but my favorite site for cocktail accessories is by far Cocktail Kingdom.  I hope this round up helps you build your home bar better and enjoy making cocktails on the regular!


  1. This list is awesome! Any chance you could post some advice on actually using that citrus juicer? I have the same one and somehow always seem to make a giant mess whenever I try to use it. I feel like such an idiot, but how do you prevent juice from squirting all over the place?!

  2. love it! There's a few things in here that I don't have but am now going to investigate