Bar spoon, cocktail shaker and two jiggers.

Home Bar Tools And Other Home Bar Essentials

PUBLISHED FEB 14, 2020 8 mins read

Home Bar Tools And Other Home Bar Essentials

PUBLISHED FEB 14, 2020 8 mins read


Your Bar Tool Set

Spirit Hub always makes it easy to find the best craft spirits to stock your home bar with. But knowing which home bar tools and other home bar essentials are needed to complete your setup can be a bit more tricky.

Having the right bar tools and equipment conveniently on hand is as important as having a great whiskey or exceptional gin at the ready. Because it’s pretty impossible to mix the perfect cocktail without the right set of cocktail tools.

Unless you’re a mind reader, it’s impossible to anticipate your every guest’s drink order. So, it’s best to know your bar essentials and always be prepared for every kind of request.

Whether you like your martinis shaken or stirred, you’re going to need some basic bartender tools to get the job done right. Not sure what bar tools and equipment you need to complete your cocktail bar set? Then you’re in the right place, and this is the right time, to have a look at our guide to building the perfect home bar and the Spirit Hub list of home bar tools and other home bar essentials.


Ice bucket and tongs

Ice bucket filled with ice and a pair of tongs.
Fresh ice cubes preserve drinks for longer without watering them down, so keep it cold and don’t let it sweat.

With the exception of your craft spirit bottles themselves, nothing from your bar tool set has the potential to stand out as the centerpiece of your overall home bar arrangement more than a quality ice bucket.

Cubed, cracked or crushed, ice is arguably the most important component of any bar. Because it’s needed to make most cocktails and mixed drinks.

On top of being classic and cool looking, the ice bucket is a home bar essential because it keeps all that precious ice nice and frozen. It saves you from having to make repeated trips to the kitchen freezer for ice. Which is great if you’re the type that likes to entertain.

A good pair of tongs completes the ensemble nicely. And you’ll be grateful to have them around. Because ice is cold to touch. And who wants your fingers in their drink?

You never want to use the glass itself to scoop ice either. That’s an easy way to break or chip the glass, which can send shards of it in to mix with the cubes.


Cocktail shaker

Cobbler-style cocktail shaker with lemon slices and mint leaves.
Edward Hauck successfully filed a patent for cobbler shaker’s design in 1884.

The cocktail shaker is a home bar essential that adds plenty of decorative flair to your setup.

Many of the most popular cocktail recipes call for drinks to be shaken before they’re poured or strained and served. When it comes to shopping for cocktail shakers, people usually go for one of two classic designs.

First, there’s the Boston-style shaker. Which is essentially two separate cups that fit into one another to form a tight seal that prevents the liquid inside from splashing about.

They’re fast, easy to reuse and clean.

Then there’s the Cobbler shaker. Smaller and often easier to hold, the Cobbler Shaker’s three-piece design consists of a base cup, built-in cocktail strainer and lid.

These look sharp, are easy to use and don’t require any additional hardware to use.


Cocktail strainer

Traditional cocktail strainer surrounded by ice cubes and a small cutting board.
Small holes in the cocktail strainer allow only liquids to pass through as the cocktail is being poured.

Cobbler shakers come with a built-in cocktail strainer. But should you opt instead for a Boston-style shaker, or are mixing cocktails in a mixing glass or beaker, you’re going to need a separate cocktail strainer.

These metal sieves get placed over the mouth of your shaker or mixing glass and keep ice and other unwanted ingredients from ending up in your finished cocktail during the pour.


Mixing glass, or beaker

Overhead view of a cocktail mixing glass with a bar spoon.
Always wash your mixing glass or beaker by hand. Using the dishwasher might crack it.

The rule of thumb when it comes to shaking versus stirring goes, that if a cocktail contains ingredients like juice or dairy, they ought to be shaken. Shaking oxygenates the cocktail. Which, in turn, gives it a pleasing, frothy finish.

When a cocktail recipe calls strictly for spirits, stirring is generally preferred as there is less chance of over-diluting the cocktail or changing its texture.

When it’s time to stir, you’re going to want to have a mixing beaker or mixing glass nearby.

These large, glass vessels are particularly useful when you’re mixing multiple drinks or big batch recipes for a number of different people at once.


Bar spoon

Collection of four bar spoons inside a copper cocktail shaker.
Bar spoons can also be used to safely lower ice cubes into a glass.

All those cocktails aren’t going to mix themselves. So, once you’ve procured your mixing glass, you’re going to also need a handy-dandy mixing beaker or mixing glass bar spoon.

A good bar spoon should have a little weight to it without being overly bulky. Look for one that has a nice, deep bowel to it. That makes it easy to measure out a good, level teaspoon in addition to giving a great stir.

A bar spoon with a cocktail muddler top is helpful too. It saves you from having to buy a separate tool for crushing sugar cubes, fruits and herbs. And the twisted shaft of the American bar spoon helps make circular moves steady and smooth.


Cocktail muddler

Wooden cocktail muddler surrounded by slided lime and mint leaves.
A cocktail muddler can extract juice from fruit pulp and essential oils from hers or citrus peels.

If your bar spoon does have one built in, then you need to add a cocktail muddler to your list of home bar essentials. Otherwise, delicious cocktails like the mojito and mint julep are off the menu.

A cocktail muddler is a bartender tool that gets used similarly to how a pestle is used to crush, or muddle, cocktail ingredients such as fruit, herbs and various spices.

Grip it from the top. Rest the end of the cocktail muddler against your palm. Use your whole hand. And start mashing!


Cutting board and paring knife

Cutting board and paring knife being used to slice strawberries.
The typical paring knife features short, sturdy blade normally 2 - 4 inches in length.

Garnishes should never be an afterthought. They deserve better than that for the role they play in so many recipes. That’s why including a little cutting board and paring knife among your bar tools and equipment is important.

It doesn’t need to be a very large cutting board at all. You don’t want it taking up too much space. Just something big enough to handle slicing a few lime wedges or trimming a few sprigs of rosemary.


Citrus squeezer

Green citrus squeezer being used to juice lemons.
For the best results, let fresh-squeezed juice “age” for a few hours before using it in cocktails.

Yes. You can buy lime juice in the bottle. But there’s really no substitute for the fresh stuff.

Freshly squeezed juices can really elevate a cocktail’s flavor profile. A solid citrus squeezer is perfect for extracting fresh juice from lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits. So, it makes the list of home bar essentials.

Citrus squeezers come in a bunch of different sizes and styles. When shopping for yours, consider things like ease of use, ability to clean up quickly, overall durability and its ability to be conveniently stored.


Jiggers

Close up view of a jigger next to a sliced orange.
The standard jigger is shaped like an hourglass with a 1 oz. side and a 1.5 oz. side.

There’s as much science behind the technique of mixing craft cocktails as there is artistry. You want perfect pours every time. So, jiggers are definitely home bar tools you want around.

Jiggers are like measuring cups for cocktails. They remove the guesswork from mixology, letting you know exactly how much spirit you’re adding to the drink.

Some of the most popular jigger varieties feature a two-ounce side and a one-ounce side, with quarter, half or three-quarter ounce lines also etched into it. Those are all the primary measurements you’ll need to mix up most craft cocktail recipes.


Cocktail recipe book(s)

Sometimes we feel frisky. And in the mood to try something new. Or maybe a friend stumps you with an eccentric drink request. In any case, you can’t go wrong by having a reliable bartender’s guide book at your side.

There are hundreds of them out there. Some are broad, mixology cross-sections covering the whole craft cocktail spectrum. Others focus on a particular cocktail theme. Or just a single cocktail type.

With so many options out there to choose from, take the time to find one, or a few books, that are in line with your tastes and personality.

You can also find 300+ craft cocktail recipes from independent distilleries on our website.


Building your best home bar

The home bar is a reflection of the person who puts it together. It speaks to their individual tastes, particular passions and overall personality. It’s an opportunity to express yourself while sharing good cheer with others.

Hopefully this list of home bar tools and other home bar essentials is enough to get you going on your own cocktail bar set. Because if you’re anything like us, you know that having the right bar to come home to is in, and of itself, essential.

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