10 Essential Home Bartending Tools

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It can be pretty daunting stepping behind the bar for the first time, which is why getting familiar with the tools for bartending is an important first step. If you’re up for the challenge of making wonderful cocktails that will impress your customers, it’s time to understand the equipment that will get you there! Award-winning bartender Charlie Ainsbury is here to help in this online lesson. His cocktail creations have been praised around the world and with over a decade of industry experience, he is well-versed in all the different tools of the trade.What you’ll learn in the Essential bartending tools lesson The essential bartending tools for cocktail making The variations of these tools and the different ways to use them Who the Bartending for beginners course is for Servers and beginner bartenders, sharpen your skills behind the bar with pointers from the world’s best!

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Cocktail Recipe Lingo

There are a few terms you'll regularly encounter when browsing cocktail recipes:

Mixers: Any ingredient—often nonalcoholic—that is added to a mixed drink. For example, syrups, fruit juices, bitters, sodas, etc., are all mixers.

Dash and Splash: The smallest measurements found in a bar, these are often used interchangeably for ingredients that are mere accents in a drink. For example, "add a splash of lemon juice" or "a dash of bitters."

  • The exact measurement of either a dash or a splash is not important. Technically, a dash is 1/32 of an ounce, but who's going to take the time to measure that?
  • A dash is typically smaller than a splash and used for ingredients like bitters that have strong flavors.
  • Depending on the ingredient, your splash may be larger or smaller. For instance, a "splash of soda" is likely more than a "splash of lime juice."

Garnish: Often a fruit, such as a cherry or an orange slice, a garnish is used to adorn a drink and add to its visual appeal. Some garnishes also add hints of flavor.

Drink Presentation 101

The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

Cocktails are supposed to not only taste great, but they should also look good. Small things like choosing the right glass and garnish will step up the look of every cocktail you make. 

There is not a one-size-fits-all glass for drinks, and different styles of drinks require different styles of glassware. You don’t need to stock every style. Instead, base your decisions on the types of cocktails you like to mix up most often.

Once you have the glasses, you will want to properly prepare them for your cocktails:

  • How to Chill a Glass: Every cold drink should go into a cold glass. Taking the time for this simple step is one of the tricks to getting your cocktails to taste like those of a professional bartender.
  • How to Rim a Glass: Do you enjoy a little salt with your margarita? Whether it’s sugar, salt, or some other flavoring, adding a custom rim to any glass is simple and enhances the experience.

7. Bar Trolley

Home bars were once relegated to window ledges or hidden away in kitchen cupboards. No longer. Thanks to the recent revival of the bar trolley, we have our bottles and home bartending tools proudly on display. For a stylish, modern version of the bar trolley, we love this West Elm model. If you’re up for a spot of antique hunting, meanwhile, Etsy and Ebay also host their share of retro finds.

3. Mixing Glass

For stirred drinks, a mixing glass should be your vessel of choice. The classic Japanese-made Yarai model is the pick of bartenders around the world for its durability (and aesthetics).

Best stepped jigger

Cocktail Kingdom Stepped Copper Jigger $35 $35 This fancy-looking jigger combines the functional appeal of the OXO measuring cup (it’s basically a cup that grows wider to accommodate different amounts of liquid) with the aesthetic appeal of a classic bar tool. It also makes measuring a snap: “This handy measuring tool is super-easy to use and enables the imbiber to essentially build all the ingredients of a drink in one go,” says Confrey. $35 at Cocktail Kingdom Buy

Best collins/highball glasses

Cocktail Kingdom Buswell Collins Glass, 12-Ounces, Set of 6 $20 Though it’s easy to want to get a different type of glass for every type of drink you make, that’s really unnecessary when you’re first starting out. According to Simó, “You can make 90 percent of drinks into a good, all-purpose cocktail glass like a rocks or a collins glass.” (While this section contains our bartenders’ favorite glasses, if you want to shop around, you can find most of these styles at various price points in our list of the best drinking glasses.) A collins — or highball — glass is the one that looks like a chimney, and generally you’re looking for something that’s about 12 ounces, like these collins glasses from bartender-favorite brand Cocktail Kingdom. “You don’t want a 16-ounce Collins glass because you’re going to be hammered after your second Tom Collins,” advises Simó. $20 at Cocktail Kingdom Buy

Learn More

Learn more about mixology from award-winning bartenders. Refine your palate, explore the world of spirits, and shake up the perfect cocktail for your next gathering with the MasterClass Annual Membership.

Where To Buy Your Bartender Tool Kit?

There’s plenty of places where you can buy bartender tools. If you’re just a beginner, it’s wise to just use what the bar can provide. Buy a bar blade, some lighters, and bring some pens. But don’t buy everything I listed above off the bat. As you get more comfortable with your craft, and really want to spend time to excel as a bartender (not just as a part-time employee), it’s definitely worth investing in your own kit.

First and foremost, look into buying kits from a local retailer. Retailers that specialize in kitchen and bartending supplies, usually store quality items. If you’re searching for bartending tools online, make sure you do your research. The following online retailers are where you should look:

This brings me to my final piece of advice on kits. When you’re investing in these bar tools & equipment, it’s always best to shoot for the higher quality items. Trust me. Instead of buying the bartending kits that go for only $15, go for the kits that are priced around the $100 mark.

If you do so, these tools will last you an entire lifetime. The quality bartender tools will feel more comfortable in your hands. They will be sturdy. They won’t break. And they won’t tarnish.

But with that said, if you’re low on cash and need to practice immediately, go ahead and get that $15 kit. You can always invest in better equipment down the line – after you’ve earned a couple paychecks.

Lynnette Marrero Ryan Chetiyawardana

World-class bartenders Lynnette and Ryan (aka Mr Lyan) teach you how to make perfect cocktails at home for any mood or occasion.

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