Home bar essentials : the only 5 bar tools you'll ever really need
Ok, so by now you made up your mind: you are going to start assembling your beautiful home bar.
I know that sometimes this process can feel a bit overwhelming -where to start? what to buy? what’s genever? Do I need a bottle of it? Where will I keep all the bar-tending stuff?and so on… I have been there at the beginning of my career, too.
Very soon I realized that beside choosing which spirits to stock, there was at least one other major variable to consider: Which bar tools should I buy to make good cocktails (while looking professional)?
Look, I’m not gonna lie -you can definitely get crafty with bar-tending and you can make a drink using lots of items around the house: any jar can be turned into a shaker or mixing glass, any spoon can be used to stir ice down…
There’s no denying that professional tools will make your life easier and will make you look more put-together too…
So, let’s have a look at the most essential and basic tools for your home bar:
BAR TOOL n.1 – Two pieces shaker
A Boston shaker is a good hardworking basic shaker. It will allow to make multiple cocktails at a time (up to 3 depending on total volume of the chosen drink), it can double as a mixing glass for when you feel like making yourself a Manhattan or a Gibson the right way – by stirring them- and the metal will slow over-dilution better then glass.
BAR TOOL n.2 – Jigger
I know: you’re at home, you’re having fun, you don’t have to worry about silly profits and costs in your bar so, quite frankly you don’t care if you use a bit more gin here and there..
This is the thing though: cocktails are a matter of balance and proportions.
Kinda like when you bake a cake, there’s a reason why you follow a recipe. The final taste and texture of your cocktail will be different if you use too much spirit, sugar or juice. You should always strive to get a good balance in your drinks.
A jigger in your bar is like a scale in your kitchen; it’s your best friend in keeping consistency in your delicious concoctions.
There are all kind of different Jiggers, but I’d suggest you to get one with high precision measurement lines of reference like this one.
BAR TOOL n.3 – Hawthorn strainer
This essential bar tool is for stopping the ice cubes in the shaker from falling into your glass. The coil also helps with collecting other cocktail’s ‘debris’ such as mint leaves, muddled berries or other fruits and so on…
Some bartenders simply use the smaller tin placed in the larger one to achieve the same result, but this can sometimes be quite messy…A Hawthorn strainer looks more elegant and professional and is more convenient to use.
By the way, its strange name comes from a bar in Boston, the Hawthorne caffee, that made extensive use of it back in the days!
You can get yourself one here.
BAR TOOL n.4 – Fine strainer
Chances are that if you’re not a bartender you won’t even think about this..
A fine strainer is a small colander whose main purpose is to keep very small particles out of your glass.
Solids like tiny mint pieces, tiny berry residues and seeds don’t belong in your finished cocktail: It is annoying and frustrating to constantly having to spit them out when all you want is enjoying a drink!
Even the small ice shards which are created during shaking don’t belong in your glass as they would just contribute to over dilute your cocktail…See what I mean?
Even if a round bottom fine strainer is totally fine, I always prefer to work with a conical bottom fine strainer. This is because they are usually slightly bigger -allowing for a faster pour, and because their shape helps the liquid converge to a single stream – and this looks more elegant!
Something like this is what I’d go for.
BAR TOOL n.5 – Bar spoon
Have you ever tried stirring a drink with a teaspoon, soup spoon or knife? It’s not effective and it doesn’t look good.
A bar-spoon is a tool for stirring yes, but it also comes in handy when you have to measure out ‘accent ingredients’ that you need in tiny amounts of 2.5 ml and multiples.
With its slender, elegant twisted handle it will add a touch of fanciness to any newborn bar.
A useful first bar spoon is one with a flat base on one of its extremities, like the one in the picture.I’m saying this because the flat base can be used as a muddler when you need it -effectively giving you an extra tool!
My name is Lulu and I am a cocktail creatress, menu developer, consultant and blogger based in the wonderful Scottish highlands.
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I promise, this is literally all you need to start mixing cocktails at home at like a pro!
I hope that this list of essential and basic bar tools helped you in your effort of starting your home bar.
If you have any questions, just let me know in the comment section below! I’m always happy to help!
Happy mixing, Lulu