Whether you’re hosting a party, entertaining a few unexpected guests, or dealing with a random Tuesday night existential crisis, a well-stocked bar will let you mix a proper cocktail on a moment’s notice.
And there’s more to it than just having a stockpile of liquor bottles, fancy glassware, and Kierkegaard’s journals. You also need the right bartender tools, so you can expertly craft an Old Fashioned or a Sidecar. Because apparently passing around a bag of wine at a dinner party isn’t enough for some people.
The 10 Essential Bartender Tools
Add these to your toolkit and you’ll be ready for anything. (Well, anything involving booze.)
Oh, your pretentious friend wants a vieux carré? Of course they do. A jigger allows you to measure liquor and this OXO Steel Double Jigger has six different increments of measurement, so you can craft annoyingly complicated cocktails with annoying levels of precision.
Cocktail shakers are a staple in any bartender tool kit. There are endless options out there, from Cobbler Shakers to trendy mason jars and rose gold pineapples. We’re partial to this classic, stainless two-part Boston shaker as they’re less likely to freeze shut.
Any strainer will keep fruit chunks, mint leaves, or an avalanche of ice cubes from messing up your carefully crafted cocktail. While yes you could use your pasta strainer, this simple, stainless Hawthorne Strainer (named for the Hawthorne Gentleman’s Cafe and Restaurant in Boston that invented it) will give your cocktail a touch of class. The fact that your friend wants a Long Island Iced Tea? Well, nothing we can do about that.
If you prefer your martinis stirred, not shaken — because James Bond can’t tell you how to live your life — grab this set of stainless American mixing spoons from Top Shelf Bar Supply. Why stir? So you don’t bruise the molecules in your gin and end up with a mediocre cocktail. And our exes thought we were touchy.
If you’re going to make mojitos (or, frankly, most cocktails that use fruit), you’re going to need a muddler to mash the fresh ingredients. This bamboo Mojito Muddler is an ideal bar tool for crushing fruit and releasing the flavor from mint leaves without ripping them, which can make your drink bitter. And if you’re not going to make mojitos, we didn’t want to come to your party anyway.
Make a margarita once with fresh-squeezed limes and you’ll never go back to syrupy margarita mixes. This Zulay Kitchen citrus squeezer works with both lemons and limes and extracts all the juicy goodness without dumping rinds or seeds in your drink.
Nothing says “I know what I’m doing” like a garnish. We love this wood-handled Victorinox channel knife. It peels citrus zest into pretty spirals, infuses your cocktail with essential oils, and reminds us of something we’d steal from our parents’ bar. (Hypothetically speaking.)
Wine Key (or Corkscrew)
You probably already have one of these. And we don’t want to be rude… but yours sucks. Whimsical wine openers make every bottle of wine feel like “an experience.” But there’s a reason every bartender uses a wine key instead. It works. Fast. So you can enjoy “the experience” of actually drinking it. It comes in all sorts of colors, so pair one with a bottle of wine for a great hostess gift.
If you’re into frozen umbrella drinks, you’re going to need a good blender. The Ninja Personal Blender has a powerful motor for pulverizing ice, and the blending jar is a 16-ounce travel cup, which makes cleanup — and sneaking a daiquiri into yoga class — so much easier. Namaste.
Your freezer’s icemaker is for amateurs. Take your presentation to the next level with decorative ice cubes — like the oversized 2-inch cubes this Samuelworld Ice Cube Tray makes. Or as they call it “big ice.” I guess Ice Cube was taken?