Over the course of the years, I’ve had lots of friends enjoy hanging out and drinking cocktails in my home. When you’ve been dabbling in cocktails as long as I have you tend to collect a lot of tools. I believe the form and function of using the proper tools is important. First, to make a balanced cocktail, you need to carefully measure ingredients and carefully pour the drink into the glass. Second, you want your guests to feel like they are getting something special in that glass and it was prepared using the best tools.
The good news is that you can have a very well stocked tool kit for home cocktails for very little cash. Since we’ve just passed Black Friday and retailers were trying their best to separate you from your wallet, I decided to chronicle my favorite basic bar tools in the next several posts. While some of these won’t be the cheapest option, in my opinion they are the best for the money and won’t require a loan or selling your first born child to the credit card company to own. These tools are everything you need to make just about any cocktail.
First, you have to have mixing tins/shakers. Many times you see what’s called a Boston Shaker which usually consist of a pint glass and a larger tin which fits snugly over the pint glass. You can stir drinks in the pint glass and use both pieces to shake. The downside to this set-up is two fold. First, glass is not a good conductor of heat. It takes a lot more thermal energy to cool down the glass than it does other materials. Second, pint glasses have a tendency to break. I prefer all metal Boston Shakers. Using all metal solves both problems with glass. Metal is a great conductor of thermal energy meaning your cocktail will get cold faster. Plus, metal doesn’t shatter. These are my metal shakers.
I like having various sizes. From left to right, each tin works with the next size down. The largest set is good for making 3 or 4 cocktails at a time while the smallest set is perfect for serving one cocktail to a guest. I have purchased tins from BarProducts.com and found them cheap and very dependable.
The second basic tool you need is a jigger. You can find these at almost any kitchen store, restaurant supply depot, or in your grandmothers cabinet gathering dust. For my money, the best jigger on the market is the Oxo Steel Double Jigger.
As you can see, this jigger has a non-slip grip in the middle which is great when your hands are wet or sticky. The bigger bowl holds 1.5 ounces and the smaller bowl holds 1 ounce. But what really sets this jigger apart is the gradients inside each bowl.
For about the same price as the Oxo jigger you can get stainless steal jiggers with each bowl a single volume. Similar to these:
These are good jiggers and meet the form and function of your tools. However, I’m lazy and don’t want to wash more than I have to and only using one tool instead of multiple fits the bill for me.
The third tool you need is a good muddler. For my favorite muddler, see this post on the PUG! muddler.
The last tool I’ll cover in this post is the all important cocktail spoon. Cocktail spoons are a bit different than a normal spoon in that the are long and contain a shallow bowl at the end. Some bar spoons have a fork or a muddler on the other end. These are the two spoons I use most often.
The brand of spoon on the left has been lost to memory, the spoon on the right is a ProStirrer by Uber Bar Tools. Each of these spoons is weighty and feels good in the hand. The ProStirrer has a muddler on the end, although I find it works much better to crack ice cubes than muddle. One thing to notice about both of these spoons is the lack of a red plastic cap on the end. My experience has been the cheaper spoons, usually the ones with the red tip, are flimsy tools not worth wasting your money on.
There you have it. My favorite shaker tins, jiggers, muddler & spoons. Next time, I’ll cover strainers, ice cube trays, peelers, and one special tool I think every home bartender should utilize.
Do you have any favorite bar tools? Leave a comment and let us know what and why.