Just as a scientist needs his apparatus, a bartender needs his bar tools to properly make the best concoctions in a clean, safe, and efficient manner. Some of them are always used, while others are used occasionally for certain drinks.
Whether you want to set up a small home bar or work in a fancy restaurant, these bar tools are essential and must always be present, especially the basic ones. Here are the indispensable bar tools that you need for your bar.
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Mainly made of metal, cocktail shakers are cylinder-shaped containers used to mix alcoholic beverages with other drinks and ice. The primary purpose of a cocktail shaker is to make the beverage cold as it is being shaken. Here are the four types of shakers to choose from:
Mostly used by professionals, the Boston shaker comes in two parts: a mixing glass and a larger tin container. The two glasses perfectly fit to have an airtight seal when mixing, preventing your cocktail from spilling. As practical and durable as this shaker is, it also requires great skill, especially when separating the two glasses.
2. Tin on tin
This is very similar to the Boston shaker because it also comes with two glass-like containers, only that they both are made of tin, hence the name. The tin on tin is easier to use than a glass on tin shaker because the container won’t crack when you separate them. This shaker is advised to be used when mixing egg whites in your cocktail.
And because both containers are made of tin, the drink will cool much faster, providing a better seal. The only downside is that you won’t have a visual of the drinks that you’re mixing as a Boston shaker would.
The cobbler contains three parts: a large shaking tin, a tightly fitted top with a built-in strainer, and a cap to cover the top. It may be less noisy, but it still has cons.
For instance, when a cocktail is shaken, the lid can contract, making it sticky and difficult to remove. And while it already has a strainer, it is not adjustable and not very fine, so your cocktail can still have pulp or ice traces.
But still, it is an excellent shaker to use, especially when you’re a beginner and want to practice your mixing skills. As a treat, the cap measures exactly 1 ounce, so when you misplace your jigger, you can use this handy feature instead.
Also called the French shaker, this one also has two compartments: a metal bottom container and a metal cap. The Parisian shaker has the most appealing design, and it even comes in sophisticated colors. However, it doesn’t have a built-in strainer like the cobbler so you need to have a separate strainer around your kitchen.
It also has excellent thermal conductivity as it is made of metal. However, despite its design and other pros, it is not as effective as the Boston shaker.
Strainers are used to pour over the drinks into the glass to catch any unwanted particles such as pulp or tiny ice pieces. It ensures that the cocktail is smooth all the time. Like the shaker, strainers also come in different types.
Most cocktail shakers don’t have built-in strainers, so they have to be purchased separately.
Perhaps the most widely-used strainer, the Hawthorne strainer is also the most complicated looking. It contains a metal disc with perforated holes and an attached handle, stabilizing prongs to keep it in place on top of a shaker tin or glass, and a metal spring aligned on the disc that catches any solid particles when pouring a drink.
This strainer complements the Boston shaker because the metal spring perfectly fits the rim of the tin or glass due to its adjustable feature. It comes in different styles, but they all have the necessary parts.
However, this strainer can be challenging to clean because of the spring and is easily damaged when not used or stored correctly.
A julep strainer looks like a slotted spoon but not as shallow and has a shorter handle. It has a round and shallow container with tiny holes that catches the solids. It’s not as effective as the Hawthorne and the fine mesh strainer because the only factor that prevents unwanted particles from your drink is the holes.
This is typically used with a mixing glass and for straining stirred drinks. It is used by placing it over the glass’s mouth with the shallow part facing down and held with your fingers’ pressure. It is durable and easy to clean but can’t strain very tiny particles.
Among the other two, the fine mesh strainer is the most effective when filtering your drink. It’s like the strainer that you see in the kitchen, only smaller.
It helps the other strainers catch all the tiny bits of fruit or ice that you don’t want in your drink. It comes in different sizes, and they’re relatively cheap. When you use it, hold it beneath the first strainer to thoroughly filter the liquid.
Cocktail jiggers are small hourglass-like devices made from stainless steel used for measuring purposes in mixology—the standard jigger measures 1 oz. on one side and 2 oz. on the other.
A single jigger is a simple measuring tool that has a single bowl used to hold the liquor. It looks simpler than the double jigger, which has two sides.
A double jigger looks like an hourglass with both of its sides having two different bowls. Each side can hold 1 oz. and 2 oz. respectively. This is the type of jigger that is used in most bars.
10. Japanese Jigger
A Japanese jigger has an angular design compared to a double jigger. The design makes it easier to have a precise measurement. Because of its sleek style, it is easier to pour.
Bar spoons are what you use to stir your drinks. They are like regular spoons but have longer and slimmer bodies, and the end has a variety of styles.
The European has a long fully twisted with its end looking like a disc. It can be a substitute to a muddler and can also be used as a drink layering tool. It is sturdier because it is designed to muddle ingredients with its unique feature. Moreover, it is excellent to use when you’re working with tall glasses.
Dubbed as the basic bar spoon, the American has a simple but functional design. Its stem is also twisted but only in the middle part and it is instantly recognizable because of its iconic red rubber tip, which is to provide comfort to the bartender’s hand when stirring.
This one has a longer and slimmer stem and has the most elegant look. The end can either be a teardrop-shaped tip that provides more weight for better stirring or a fork that can be used to pick up fruits for muddling.
Drinks wouldn't be complete without their containers since it’s also a matter of presentation. Many types of glasses are typical for specific beverages. The following are the commonly used glasses in bars.
A tall glass can store 8-12 oz. of liquid and measures 3 inches diameter by 6 inches in height. It is used to serve mixed drinks like tequila sunrise and long island iced tea.
This glass is similar to the highball, only taller and slimmer at 2 1⁄2 inches diameter by 6.75 inches in height, and can contain 10-14 oz. of liquid. It is also used for mixed drinks such as Tom collins.
A short glass with various designs containing 6-10 oz. of liquid and measures 3.5 inches in height and about 3 inches in diameter. It is also called old-fashioned glass or lowball glass and is typically used to serve whiskey or scotch with ice.
It looks like a small stemmed bowl used to serve cocktails like aviation or daiquiris, though initially coupe glasses were used for champagne.
Take the coupe glass but replace the round bowl shape with a triangular bowl, and you’ll have the martini glass. Martinis are ideally served with an olive on a toothpick.
The margarita glass is a variation of the coupe glass with two curves used to serve margaritas and even shrimp cocktails.
A fancy-looking glass that is slim and is used for champagne and mimosas. It can hold 6-10 oz. of liquid, and its stem allows the drinker to hold it without affecting the drink’s temperature.
21. Shot Glass
A tiny glass designed to allow the drinker to consume the drink in one gulp is called the “shot”. It can hold 0.8 - 1.70 oz. of liquid and has several varieties like the shooter. It can also double as a jigger.
22. Paring Knife
A small knife with a short blade is used to cut fruits for garnishes.
23. Cutting Board
A durable board made of either wood or plastic. Its surface is used to cut fruits and other ingredients.
A tool used for extracting the zest of citrus fruit to be used as additional aroma, flavor, or garnish. It is also helpful when grating spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. There is a variant called the channel zester, which is used to zest twisty peels of fruits.
Featuring a sharp and stainless steel blade, a peeler is an essential bar tool designed to remove fruit skins.
Toothpicks are either made of bamboo or other types of wood. They are used to stick fruits or olives placed on top of some cocktails.
Some drinks are more on the sweet side and require whipped cream. You can always use a store-bought whipped cream bottle, but a dispenser looks more professional and allows you to make your own cream mix.
It’s one of the complicated tools used in bars, and it works by using small chargers filled with compressed nitrous oxide to aerate the cream and will eventually create a foam.
Other Bar Tools
28. Mixing Glass
A glass that is usually patterned and sturdy and has a spout that allows better pouring of drinks and prevents spilling them. It is used as a vessel when you’re muddling ingredients and mixing in some liquor or spirits.
29. Wine Key
A wine key is a three-in-one tool based on a German innovation in the 1880s. It consists of a knife to cut the foil of a wine bottle, a corkscrew to remove the cork, and a bottle opener. Sommeliers prefer it because it is easy to use, convenient, and effective.
30. Speed Opener
A speed opener is a flat stainless steel bar tool with two holes on each end. It is intended to open beer bottles and allow the bartender to perform tricks and showcase his skills. It is small enough to be put in your pocket or even on a belt magnet.
31. Foil Cutter
When you’re opening a bottle of wine, you’ll get the job done easier and faster with a foil cutter. It has a blade that runs around the foil creating a slit when you rotate it.
Ice is crucial in drinks because they provide a refreshing factor. To keep everything clean and safe, you must use an ice scoop or tongs to pick up ice from the bucket and transfer them to the glass or shaker.
Some drinks are better off with fresh ingredients. And you can do this by extracting the flavors and aroma of mint leaves or citrus with a muddler. These look like pestles and are intended for mashing.
They vary in materials such as wood, plastic, or stainless steel. Some also have a rounded tip, while others have ridges or teeth that better extraction.
34. Citrus Squeezers
Sure, you can squeeze a lemon with your bare hands, but it wouldn’t be so sanitary, and your customers don’t want to see that. Using a lime squeezer allows efficiency and cleanliness that extracts juice to the last drop.
35. Absinthe Spoon
An absinthe spoon is a perforated spoon with unique and attractive designs intended for dissolving sugar in a glass to counteract its bitterness. The spoon is flat, and it is rested horizontally on the rim of the glass, with a sugar cube placed on top of the spoon’s slotted part.
Absinthe is then poured over the sugar cube, followed by iced water that will eventually dissolve the sugar.
We’ve already discussed the wine key that features a corkscrew. So, what is this butler’s friend corkscrew used for? It is actually for removing fragile vintage corks, and its prongs ensure that no fragments of the cork will mix with the wine.
You use it by inserting the prongs in between the cork and pull it with a twisting motion, and the cork should be out smoothly.
There will be an instance that a bottle of wine or champagne won’t be finished. To preserve its flavor and aroma, there is a need for wine stoppers attached to the bottle’s opening and tightly seal it.
38. Bar Towels
No one likes to see a messy counter, and even if you have bar mats, there would still be traces of little spillings on your surface. To keep your area clean, you’ll need to wipe any unwanted liquids with bar towels. These are also helpful in wiping your glasses to keep them shiny and dry.
39. Bar Mats
Bar mats are necessary in bars since these protect your bar surface from spills and keep glasses and other tools in place. They are mainly made of rubber or silicone, making them slip-resistant. They also help in maintaining cleanliness on your counter by containing spilled liquids.
40. Can Opener
Some ingredients are stored in cans, such as cream of coconut or pineapple slices. So naturally, you’ll be needing a can opener to open the cans safely and efficiently.
A familiar kitchen tool that is also helpful in the bar, the funnel is a cone-shaped bar tool with a narrow stem at the cone’s tip to channel liquids like syrup into bottles. They can be of plastic or stainless steel and prevent you from creating a mess when transferring liquids.
42. Glass Racks
Where else would you store your glasses other than racks, right? These can be considered a piece of furniture in your bar to store and organize bar glasses neatly.
They can vary in size and material, but most are made from durable wood. Most glasses with stems and bases like wine glasses or flute glasses are hung from the racks to save space and easy access.
43. Glass Washer
If it’s a busy day at the bar, you would typically clean up simultaneously while preparing drinks, but you don’t want to get stuck washing the glasses, right? This is where the glass washer comes in handy.
The glass washer is a piece of electrical equipment with multiple brush heads or bristles that rotate when turned on. The bristles ensure that even the glasses’ toughest stains are removed and reach the glass’s bottom.
44. Ice Maker
Drinks are so much better when they’re cold, and one way to make this happen fast is by mixing them with ice.
An ice maker is a reliable machine that produces ice in no time, so you’ll have an endless supply, and so your operation won’t be interrupted because you ran out of ice. It is one of the larger investments, but it is worth it.
We’ve already established the citrus squeezers, but other fruits are not compatible with them, such as mango or pineapple.
Some customers prefer to have fresh fruit juice in their drinks and to save time and effort. A juicer extracts fresh juice from large fruits, especially beneficial when you need a big batch.
The best blenders incorporate all the ingredients better into one drink than just mixing them with a shaker. If you want to save some money, a blender can also double as a juicer, but the juice will be chunkier, so you need to strain it first.
47. Liquor Shelves
If you have frequented a bar, you may notice that the liquors, spirits, and mixers are displayed neatly stacked on shelves. This is another bar furniture that helps organize your drinks and for easy access and keeping the area clean at all times. Sometimes, shelves are adorned with LED lights to accentuate the precious alcohols.
48. Ice Molds
These are containers made of silicone used to make ice with unique shapes like the spherical ice for whiskey.
When a drink is ready to be served, it usually comes with a napkin and sometimes a straw or a stirrer. Having a caddy keeps these items organized and gives you easy access.
Flaming drinks provide theatrics, so you need matches or a lighter to pull it off. One example would be a scorpion bowl in which the middle is filled with alcohol, mostly rum, and is lit on fire.
One of the trends in the cocktail world is having clothespins clip garnishes like mint leaves, blossoms, or lemon peels in the rim of the glass.
It doesn’t add any flavor to the drink because the garnishes are more likely hung out, but it’s undeniable that they make the beverage look aesthetically pleasing.
52. Fruit Tray
Don’t leave your fruits hanging around anywhere. After all, they’re one of the crucial ingredients in drinks, so store them in a lovely fruit tray to secure and keep them in place.
53. Glass Rimmer
Ideas for glass rims are sprouting, and you’ll need to keep up with them. To help you execute it quickly, you can use a glass rimmer. They are multiple shallow plates with the ideal glass size that allows you to have your rimming ingredients ready beforehand.
Standard rims are used to apply salt and sugar. The rimmer saves you time without having to get a plate and layout sugar or salt every time someone orders a margarita.
How Do You Use Bar Accessories?
If you aspire to be a bartender, one of your responsibilities is to understand how your equipment works and maintain them.
Some bartenders have already mastered their craft and just tend to have fun with what they’re doing and impress people at the same time. Some tools are easy to use, while others need some practice. Bartenders undergo training so they can do their work efficiently and correctly.
What Do Bartenders Use to Mix Drinks?
Mixed drinks make use of two or more ingredients, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Some prominent examples include Moscow mule, Bloody Mary, Tequila Sunrise, Martinis, Piña Coladas, Gin and Tonic, Whiskey Sour, Margaritas and more. They require bar tools that ensure that all elements are incorporated well into a single iconic concoction.
You need a shaker, bar spoon, jigger, strainer, and muddler to make these cocktails. Some mixed drinks like piña coladas are often blended, so you’ll need a blender. In contrast, other beverages don’t require a shaker because you can make them by merely stirring the ingredients.
What is Needed Behind a Bar?
When you go to a bar, you probably wonder what goes on behind the scenes. You can see the liquors, mixers, and spirits displayed, but some things are not visible.
For instance, a bar sink is usually situated under the counter where the bartender washes his hands and others that need washing. Along with this, there are cleaning supplies stored to keep the area always clean. As always, sanitation is vital in every eating or drinking establishment.
Another thing that helps maintain safety is rubber floor mats. Bartenders tend to move around a lot, especially when grabbing liquors or getting tools to prevent them from slipping, so they layout rubber mats.
Furthermore, you must have bins in a place where you throw unwanted things like peelings, which should be placed in a discrete area to prevent contamination. And of course, most of your equipment will be located behind the bar, especially the ice maker and the soda gun.
Many bar tools and equipment are needed to get a bar fully equipped and functioning. Setting up a home bar can be easier but daunting at the same time if you don’t know how to pick the right tools and equipment.
One piece of equipment that every home bar owner will surely love is the Drinkworks Home Bar. This one piece of equipment will make cocktails in a breeze, literally without breaking a sweat. Just plug it in and drop it in the drink pod, and you’re good to go.
However, if you want to mix your cocktails, you need at least the essential bar tools. To serve fantastic cocktails, you should know the right kind of glass. Try also these cocktail recipes to make a good start with your home bar.
Bartending requires skills and knowledge about how to handle the right tools and equipment. With practice and dedication, bartending will come easy and turn out to be a cool profession.
By showing all these bar tools and equipment, we hope you were informed on the essential things that you’ll need should you decide to make bartending a full-time profession. Good luck on your journey!
Did we miss anything on the list? Let us know in the comment section below.