Drinks

Essential Cocktail Tools for Every Home Bar

Casual drinker to serious mixologist, here's what you need to stock your bar

Even if sipping fancy drinks at swanky cocktail bars is your jam, it’s always wise to have a properly stocked home bar, so you can pour yourself a proper nightcap when you return from said cocktail bars, or to entertain on a moment’s notice. If you don’t already have a cocktail shaker or a muddler for that mojito habit, it’s time to stock up on a few things.

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Here are all the cocktail tools you need to up your at-home bartending game, no matter what level of drinker you are. From novice to connoisseur, here’s how to build that bar.  

For the Novice:

Shot Glass Photo credit: Fancy
You can’t rip tequila shots without a shot glass, amiright? But you can also use that shot glass for measuring mixed drinks. Yes, your trusty shot glass serves as a vehicle both for drinking more and keeping the alcohol level in check, depending how you use it. Either way, you need at least one.

For the Cocktail Enthusiast:

Muddler  
Photo credit: Fancy
A wooden or rubber muddler, or one with a bamboo tip, is key for pounding sugar and herbs together to draw out flavors for a variety of cocktails. It’s a simple task that takes your drink far.

Citrus Juicer
Photo credit: Crate & Barrel
Sure, you can use a fork or your hand, but a proper juicer will help you extract more juice and fewer seeds from your citrus. Nobody wants a seed in their bourbon cherry lemonade.

Bar Spoon
Photo credit: Sur La Tabla
It might not sound like an essential tool, but a bar spoon has a long handle and narrow head, which makes it key for reaching ingredients at the bottom of your tall glass. It’s pretty, too.

For the Mixologist-in-the-Making

Cocktail Shaker
Photo credit: Crate & Barrel
The cocktail shaker is essential for—you guessed it—shaken cocktails. With this crucial piece of equipment, you can shake ice and your desired ingredients vigorously for a few seconds, and then turn out a bar-worthy cocktail in the comfort of your own home.

Strainer
Photo credit: West Elm
A strainer keeps ice and bits of fruit or herbs from tainting your smooth cocktail. You can get away without one by narrowly separating the two pieces of the shaker when you pour out your drink, but a strainer makes everything 1,000 times easier.

Measuring Jigger
Photo credit: Cocktail Kingdom
A small measuring cup, a jigger helps you be extra precise, which, if you fancy yourself a mixologist-in-the-making, is a must. Standard jiggers come with two different measuring cups, typically in the following combinations: 1 ounce and ½ ounce, and 1½ ounces and ¾ ounce.

Bar Knife
Photo credit: Amazon
Plan on making gorgeous garnishes of perfect twists and slices? Of course, you do. Which is why you need a gorgeous knife to sit out on your gorgeous bar cart.

For the Fancy-Pants:

Fancy Ice Cube Tray
Photo credit: CB2
If you’re serving a cocktail on the rocks and it doesn’t come with a spherical ice ball or a large cube, you’re going to look like an amateur. Save yourself and your guests the embarrassment and invest in a cheap, rubber ice cube tray that will instantly elevate your bar game.

Specific Glassware
Photo credit: Crate & Barrel
If you’re really serious, the next step is making sure you have appropriate glasses for each kind of cocktail. Martinis come in martini glasses, Moscow Mules come in copper mugs and old-fashioneds come in . . . old-fashioned glasses. Also called lowball glasses.

Swizzle Stick

Oh, you fancy, huh?

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