We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
You finally have the bar cart of your dreams, and you’ve happily stocked it with your favorite spirits. Naturally, you’ll want to get started making drinks right away.
Before you do, you’ll need a few of the bartending essentials below.
1. Stainless Steel Boston Shaker
Whether you’re making a daiquiri or a cosmo, you’re going to need a cocktail shaker for your home bar. While all shakers technically do the same thing — mix and aerate your drink — there’s any number of models on the market today. However, most are steel and come in a variety of finishes, from copper to silver. Just be sure to choose one with a tight seal. You don’t want to douse your cocktail attire in sticky liquid.
2. SKY FISH Japanese Jigger
Some cocktail shakers come with a built-in jigger to measure spirits and mix-ins. However, if you choose one without, you’ll have to purchase a jigger separately. Most accommodate one- and two-ounce measurements for single or double recipes.
3. VISKI Crystal Cocktail Mixing Glass
While many cocktails demand a good shaking, others, like Negronis and Manhattans, require mixing. Thus, a mixing glass is absolutely essential. In your college days, these likely meant a red solo cup. Bartending, however, calls for something classier, like a crystal glass.
4. Teardrop Barspoon
Once you pour all your cocktail ingredients into the glass, you obviously need something with which to mix the concoction. Instead of reaching for a spoon or — gods forbid — a straw, get yourself a barspoon. This thin, teardrop-shaped tool will help you mix up cocktails without sloshing them all over the bar counter.
5. Houdini Deluxe Mojito Muddler
Some cocktails also require a bit of muddling. Mojito recipes, for instance, will ask that you muddle the lime and sugar to bring out the flavor and dissolve the sugar. Of course, you don’t want to attempt this with a fork or other kitchen utensils. Rather, you’ll need a muddler for your bar car.
6. Koriko 2-Prong Hawthorne Strainer
If a strainer isn’t built into your shaker lid, you’ll have to purchase a separate accessory. If you don’t want ice getting into the finished cocktail, opt for a Hawthorne strainer and stock up on some extra coils while you’re at it. Otherwise, you’ll do just fine with a julep strainer, which fits mixing glasses much better.
7. Lenox Tuscany Classics Pierced Pitcher
Whether you’re making sangria or a giant batch of your favorite cocktail, you’ll want to have a pitcher to keep it in. Plus, storing the liquid in a pitcher makes serving guests much easier.
8. BarConic Vertical Canelle Channel Knife
Dress up your cocktails and add a little extra flavor with fun garnishes, the most common of which are citrus peels. While some recipes call for wider peels to drop into drinks, others require a twist or long spiral of a peel. To do so, you’ll need a channel knife or a multi-purpose zester.
9. Cocktail Picks
For bloody marys and martinis, a simple peel may not cut it. Instead, you’ll need picks to help garnish the drinks. While plastic or wooden ones may work just fine, metal skewers make any cocktail hour a bit classier. Plus, they’re reusable!
10. Lenox Tuscany Classics Decanter
When it comes to fine wine, your guests will also expect you to use a decanter in most cases. Decanters, which come in various shapes and designs, separate sediment from the wine and help open up aromas and flavors. Typically, they’re made of crystal or glass.
11. Tovolo King Cube Silicon Ice Tray
Of course, you need ice to chill your drinks and fill your pitchers. While small ice cubes may get the job done, you’ll want larger ones for spirit-forward drinks like Manhattans. This way, the ice won’t melt as quickly and dilute the drink.
12. Villeroy & Bach New Moon Glassware
Once again, leave those red solo cups in the past and invest in some quality glassware. You and your guests will appreciate sipping their wine, cocktails and other beverages out of glass or crystal much more than plastic. Be sure to get highball, rocks, wine, martini and coupe glasses to match the wide variety of drinks you’ll be serving with these bartending essentials.
Start With the Essentials
When it comes to home bartending, it’s best to gather the essentials first. Once you have glassware and the basic tools for mixing, shaking and stirring up delicious cocktails, you can begin to add to your bar cart. From wine stoppers to citrus juicers, there’s a nearly endless number of tools and equipment you might buy, but keep it simple at the start.