Having the proper tools and equipment for creating cocktails will help you in achieving better results but I also understand that everyone has different preferences and budgets.
I've created a few guides that not only cover the essential bar tools and their benefits but also teaches you how to use them:
I would suggest you start small and then build up the equipment that feels right for you as you create your own style.
There are plenty of bar tools that are poorly designed, can break easily or are not suitable for everyone. That's why If you're just starting out, consider firstly going through my articles above to decide which type of equipment is the most suitable for you. And below you can find the essential bar tools that I recommend and why you should give them a try.
BAR TOOLS RECOMMENDATIONS
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COCKTAIL SHAKERS REVIEW
The most professionals use Boston shakers either Tin on Tin or variation with Boston glass which consist of two cups that fit together to form a tight seal. Although, there are some benefits of Tin on Tin model over Boston glass: Cocktail shaker with two stainless steel tins won't break easily and have a better thermal conductivity than a glass.
Cobbler shakers (3-piece model) are more preferred by home bartenders. They don't require separate strainer and are easier to use but there are plenty of cheaply made products out there that leaks or will freeze shut when shaken with ice.
The third type of shakers that you can find on the market, French(Parisian) shakers are designed more for looks than functionality and can be fairly expensive. But of course, everyone has different preferences.
Tin on Tin Stainless Steel Boston Shaker
Tin on tin Boston shaker consists of 2 stainless steel tins (18oz Unweighted & 28oz Weighted).This type of shaker is light weighted, easily form a tight seal and is basically indestructible. It has better thermal conductivity than a shaker with the glass and unlike the Cobbler shaker, the tins are easily removable after shaking.
Kotai Boston shaker (28oz tin & 16oz glass) is made from 18/8 stainless steel material with the tempered Boston glass rim for extra durability. The Boston shaker is beautifully designed therefore can make a great gift for your friends and family. The only downside is that you have to be careful how you hand wash it because any abrasive handling would easily scratch the surface.
Usagi Cobbler shaker is a 3-piece model with a built-in strainer which will be easier to use for any novice home bartenders. It doesn't have a tendency to leak and feels to be more solid than other cheaply made cobbler-style shakers. The downside is that it's more on the expensive side. Well, you get what you pay for.
COCKTAIL STRAINERS REVIEW
There are 3 commonly used cocktail strainers. Hawthorne strainers are the ones with a little spring around the edge and little tabs that rest on the cocktail shaker. Fine (Tea) Strainer is used mainly along with Hawthorne to double strain tiny pieces of ice and other solids. Julep Strainer is mainly intended to use for stirred drinks.
Today's many modern Hawthorne strainers are designed to fit even larger mixing glasses. So, there is no need to invest in Julep strainer unless you want to have a complete set. Also, some of the cheaply made Hawthorne strainers can break easily and the coil is not secure enough. So, the drinks always need to be double strained.
Durable stainless steel body and a very clever design that looks and works great. Raised lip prevents liquid from dripping and with a tab that you can keep it on top of the shaker. The only negative aspect is that it doesn't fit all the larger sized Boston shakers that snugly.
COCKTAIL JIGGERS/MEASUREMENT REVIEW
Jiggers or measuring cups are important as it helps you to precisely measure your ingredients and achieve well-balanced drinks.
The elegant style of Japanese jiggers with deeply shaped measuring cups are intended for more experienced users or professional bartenders. On the other hand, OXO jiggers are practically designed for easy use and single measuring cup is recommended for a novice bartenders.
Stainless steel measurement cup with easily readable markings that are etched and won't fade. The OXO jigger also helps prevent spilling a common problem with traditional two-sided jiggers because of useful pour spout that has extra space in the cup above the highest measurement.
MIXING GLASSES REVIEW
Cocktail Mixing glasses or vessels are used for making stirred drinks and should be made from a durable tempered glass that can handle rapid temperature changes. Also, it's worth it to invest in Large Japanese Mixing glasses such as Yarai, from the presentation point of view to the actual best results for stirring.
If you don't want to invest in large Japanese mixing glasses you can use your Boston glass or a Shaking Tin for stirring but it has two negative aspects. First of all, you can fit in most of the cases only one drink and secondly, It doesn't have a little spout that makes easy to pour a liquid into the glass.
BAR SPOONS REVIEW
Bar spoons are used mainly for stirring mixed drinks which should be done smoothly with silky soft texture and no air bubbles but there other useful benefits and techniques that should be taken into consideration such as muddling with the back of the spoon, layering cocktails using the spiral pattern or grabbing garnishes with the Japanese style of spoon finished with a fork.
A tool for muddling herbs, fruits or sugar cubes in the bottom of the glass to release their flavour. Different styles of muddler have a different impact on the released flavours in your drink. Also, it's good to consider a comfortable length of the muddler.
Wooden muddlers tend to be reliable and the cheapest but sometimes can be easily chipped into a drink.
Muddlers with a steel handle and a plastic bottom dotted with small spikes are made from a durable material but tend to crush herbs and ingredients get caught up in them.
HAND PRESS JUICER REVIEW
For the small-scale bar or if it’s just being used at home, I would recommend a hand press juicer that gives the best results in terms of freshness and quality.
You can also invest in mechanical or electric juicers where the biggest advantage is obviously the time spent and the amount of juice produced.
VEGETABLE PEELER REVIEW
Often used for preparing citrus peel. Vegetable peeler produces consistent wide strips of citrus peel in compare to pairing knife without the bitter white pith. Your peeler should be made from a durable material, preferably Y-shaped with a sharp blade.
Can you do me a little favour?
Let me know in the comments below what is your personal experience with shakers, strainers, jiggers, bar spoons or any other bar equipment that you are currently using.