After you’ve blown your bar-stocking budget on high-end bourbons, the last thing you’ll want to read is a shopping list of all the items you need to turn that booze into a cocktail. Thankfully, those tools tend to be very affordable. From the obvious pickups to the sleeper hits, these are the 15 things every home bar should have on hand.
Disc Bar Spoon
A bar spoon must be two things: long and twisted. The length allows the drink maker to stir without getting the drink all over their hand, while the twisted handle keeps the spoon in the hand in the first place. Rink Drink’s bar spoon has a masher, which can serve as a quick replacement for a muddler if time (or budget ) is of the essence.
Strainers hold chunks of fruit, seeds and other solids you don’t want in the glass. This option from Winco is simple and cheap, as it should be.
Wood muddlers don’t transfer the harsh cold of ice like metal ones do. Thus, they better protect bartenders’ hands from numbing. This one is from Winco, a big name in commercial restaurant supply, which means it’s dependable.
The basis of any good cocktail is measurement. And though nostalgia has you reaching for those shot glasses from college, Oxo’s easy-to-read jigger is just a better tool for the job.
Ever separated eggs by hand before? It’s not easy. Zoie + Chloe’s stainless steel egg separator is how you make sours happen more often.
Giant Ice Cube Mold
Big ice is not superior to small ice — despite what you once heard at a bar — but it’s still great for presentation. It also doesn’t slosh around the glass. This ice mold by Home-Complete is cheaper than ones by bigger brands, and it makes more ice cubes at once than the typical big ice cube mold.
What’s a cocktail without some flair? One of the largest differences between a home bar and your neighborhood cocktail joint is presentation. This multi-pack of steel picks ensures the olives in your next dirty martini stay in line.
Most bitters these days come with eye droppers as part of the deal. For those that don’t, or just to look cooler, these small bottles do the trick. The metal dispenser on this bitters bottle allows for a smoother, more accurate pour than a plastic dispenser.
The hallowed Microplane is the home kitchen’s best cheese grater and citrus zester. Its price has been happily cheap for decades now, while the origin story is something of a legend in the world of industrial design.
Boston Shaking Glasses
Using a shaking glass with an integrated strainer, called a cobbler shaker, is a quick way to discern if a home bartender is a rookie. And while there’s no problem being a rookie at something you don’t do professionally, it’s nice to look the part. In this regard, classic Boston shakers are the way to go.
Chef’n’s citrus juicer will come recommended by virtually any bartender you ask. It doesn’t tack on unnecessary features, it just sports a simple hinge and lever mechanism that allows you to pull more lemon juice for the money.
Cocktail Mixing Glass
Though the shaker gets all the hype, the mixing glass is a fine tool for just as many jobs. With the Kotai mixing glass, you watch your dilution as you stir, and because you don’t have your hands on the glass, you’re not imparting extra heat to the liquid. That means the final drink is less watered down.
A bar doesn’t need a smoke gun. But if you’re getting into smoked cocktails, be sure to get a smoke gun that uses real wood (wood pellets are fine), like the Breville Smoking Gun. Otherwise, lighter fluid imparts a chemically taste into the food.
To be clear, you could use any old paring knife and you’d be just fine. But this knife, designed by Boston-based mixologist Jackson Cannon, rocks a few neat bartender-specific design tweaks — a squared tip that makes plucking seeds from fruit simpler and safer, for example.
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