Let’s be real: you could use a pair of chopsticks to stir a cocktail and still end up with a downright delicious drink. But for those interested in upping your bartending game, we’re breaking down all the tools you need to shake, stir, and strain in style.
When it comes to shakers, there are two kinds: Boston-style and cobbler-style. The pros prefer the Boston, which essentially is just two metal cups that fit into each other and form a tight seal. It’s faster and a little more secure than the cobbler-style, which instead offers convenience through its small size and built-in strainer. Personally, we prefer the Boston shaker, mainly because of its precision and control, which requires a bit more finesse but is ultimately a much more elegant, specialized tool.
2. Hawthorne strainer.
If you opt for a Boston-style shaker, you’ll need a strainer, which keeps ice out of your drinking glass so as to not dilute your cocktail. Any old strainer will work just fine, but what you really want is a classic Hawthorne strainer that snugly fits your shaker.
For jiggers, we love a classic double-sided metal version, where one side measures one ounce and the other two ounces. But if you’re a novice, it can be tough to clock more precise measurements in one of these, which is where a small measuring cup comes in handy. Decidedly less chic? Yes. But good to have on hand as you’re getting started? Also yes.
4. Mixing glass.
For when you want a stirred cocktail, look no further than a mixing glass or beaker, a large vessel where you can pour all of your liquor and give it a good stir. While these are a pretty fairly simple tool, they’re also not the most necessary, as you could easily use a French press or other spouted glassware to stir together a drink.
5. Bar spoon.
Like with mixing glasses, bar spoons get knocked down to the intermediate level simply because you can get on just fine at first without them. But when you are ready to level up, nothing stirs a cocktail better than a nice twisted bar spoon. We favor the Japanese style, which is a bit heavier than American and European bar spoons.
If you’re a fan of cocktails like a berry smash or simple mojito, it’s also a good idea to have a muddler on hand. The blunt tool is used like a pestle to muddle fruit, herbs, and spices in the bottom of your glass, releasing their flavor for a more delicious drink.
Once you’ve mastered your at-home bartending game and are ready to serve a crowd, it’s nice to have a big, beautiful pitcher, perfect for batching negronis, martinis, or any other large-format cocktail. You can turn to our batch cocktail recipes here for inspiration on cocktails to make en masse, with AMASS.