Cocktails can be very complex and even when making them at home, there are a lot of steps to take to ensure you make the most delicious drinks for you and your guests. Attention to detail is key here and so having the right tools at your disposal is important.
Our list below is aimed to be simple – there are 100s of bar tools out there! – and yet it will offer enough information to give you a little flair and the confidence to shake, stir and sip your favourite cocktails at home in no time.
So, take a look through our guide to the tools of the trade, the items you see bartenders using in your favourite cocktail bar, to discover which pieces of barware equipment we feel are essential for making the best non-alcoholic cocktails at home.
A jigger is a measuring device used by bartenders to ensure that the accurate amount of liquid is poured into every drink. You’ll find they’re usually double sided, with different measures on each end, 25ml on one side and 50ml on the other. We’re biased, but we love the copper colour of our own Seedlip Jigger.
A long-handled spoon used to stir and ‘lift’ cocktails. The length allows for the spoon to reach the bottom of cocktail shakers or tall jugs to mix the liquid fully. The handle is often twisted to allow the bartender to grip and rotate the spoon when stirring. The spoon itself holds about the same amount of liquid as a teaspoon [roughly 5ml].
Similar to a pestle, a muddler is used to crush ingredients to release their flavour. It’s also handy for maceration – mashing up fruits and vegetables with sugar – when making shrubs, for example. It’s thicker, stubbier and is heavier in the hand than a bar spoon.
Strainers prevent ice cubes or chunky raw ingredients from being poured into a glass. They come in all shapes and sizes but the most common is the Hawthorn strainer, recognisable by the spring-like section that runs along the outside of the head. If you’re going to have one strainer in your cocktail kit, this is it.
This is an essential, and perhaps the most iconic, piece of cocktail kit and its purpose is four-fold.
I. Mixing ingredients
II. Cooling & chilling – a 2 to 3 second shake will do.
III. Aeration – this is useful when you want to add a foamy top on a cocktail such as the Espresso MartiNO.
IV. Dilution. This is less important when making non-alcoholic cocktails as you don’t need to reduce the alcoholic burn from boozy ingredients.
Some have built in strainers and a lid, which is perfect if you’re a beginner. Or there’s a Boston shaker, which is made up of two parts that slot into one another. If you’re not ready to invest in a shaker just yet, try using a thermos flask instead.
An underestimated, essential tool needed to make smart cocktail garnishes. Worth spending a little extra on.
Other useful equipment to have
Mixing glass, ice bucket, range of glassware, juicer, ice tray, sharp knife, bottle opener.