We’ve all visited somewhere that has served a cocktail, and much like a food recipe, we’ve asked how it’s made so we can recreate it at home. Having the correct ingredients is only part of the process, the tools of the trade are the key to success.
Essential Tools for a Cocktails at Home
We’ve put together a list of the essential bar tools needed to perfectly create your own cocktails and bartend at home like a pro.
Measure it: why use a jigger?
These are arguably the most important piece of your mixing arsenal. You won’t find a single cocktail where you won’t need to measure your ingredients. Whilst cocktails are usually measured in terms of parts relative to its glass, jiggers are a great way to ensure you aren’t free pouring and allow you to perfect your creations and consistently recreate the flavour you love.
If you visited all the gin joints in all the towns… you’ll find a jigger in each of them, demarked in either ml or oz depending which side of the Atlantic you are drinking. Exclusive to Urban Bar is the smooth modern Aero Jigger but also available are classic styles with handles and banding if you are after more of a vintage vibe.
Shake it: which cocktail shaker is best?
Not every cocktail needs a shake, but the cocktail shaker is certainly the iconic item of the best cocktail bars around the world and fits in nicely at home too.
Shaking a drink is more than just a cool move to have when making a drink.
Blending flavours together is essential for cocktail success. A shaker is particularly beneficial when using thick non-alcoholic ingredients such as fruit juices, cream liqueurs, or eggs. With ice, using a shaker not only chills the drink but it also importantly dissolves the ice to dilute the drink, again a key part of creating the correct balance and blend of flavours in a cocktail. Finally foam. For anyone partial to a Whisky Sour or similar, then it’s a shaker you’ll need to aerate the drink and help create the creamy froth on top.
There are various decorations, designs and finishes available to suit your personal style, but essentially there are two main types of shaker. The Three Piece Strainer which has a built-in strainer or, the Boston Shaker ( aka Tin on Tin) which is in two pieces and can make larger cocktails but will need a separate strainer. It does come down to personal preference but have no doubt, there is a shaker to meet everyone’s taste, here are just a few of the models we offer at UB to whet your appetite
Stir it: why bother with a bar spoon?
Well for Bond fans, the Martini would spring to mind as a drink needing a stir, but there are lots of cocktails that aren’t shaken but stirred and for these drinks, this long-handled bar spoon is a mixologist’s secret weapon.
Essentially, stirring is best when you need to create some chill but don’t want to dilute the blend too much – hence ideal for a Martini or perhaps a Whisk(e)y cocktail, Negroni or any drink served on the rocks.
The long handle allows the spoon to fit effortlessly amongst the ingredients in glasses or mixing vessels to spin the ice. Whilst the spoon end is great for measuring with it’s one teaspoon bowl, the bar spoon comes has more tricks and comes into its own for layering ingredients by pouring down the length of the spiralled stem, or when used for muddling sugar, soft fruit or herbs. If you are on the journey from home bar enthusiast to bar pro, it’s time to ditch the kitchen spoon and invest in a bar spoon.
Hawthorne, Julep or Fine Strainer: what is the difference in cocktail strainers?
Now you’ve shaken or stirred up your creation, a strainer will finish up your homemade cocktail and eliminate the ‘bits’, allowing you to pour feely into your prepared glass without worrying about leftover ice or fruit pieces.
Developed as crushed ice became commonly available in bars, the original Julep strainers were used essentially to keep the ice from your drink or spilling over whilst the generous holes allow the drink to flow smoothly. They look stylish and Juleps are always part of a professional bar perfect to use with a mixing glass but really a Hawthorne strainer is the go-to if you had to buy just one style for your at home cocktails.
Hawthorne strainers with their comfort fit spring and in-built strainer generally work for both shaken and stirred drinks as they fit typically across both the top of a tin to pour out a shaken cocktail, or a mixing glass to pour out a stirred drink.
If you consider yourself aficionado, then maybe it’s time to invest in a fine strainer. Often seen in bars being used in combination with a Julep or Hawthorne, a fine strainer catches that very smallest piece of ice that may further dilute your creation once poured.
Whilst these are not essential, these few extra bar tools are nice to have and will certainly help you to create professional cocktails at home.
A Mixing glass
Used for stirred cocktails comprising of more spirit and less fruity mixer, the mixing glass is designed to max the chill from the ice into your drink and dilute to perfection. Ranging from 60cl to 1 litre, in our store, this classic bar tool can help unleash your creativity in building grander cocktails, or simply enable you to crank up the volume and become a sublime host if pouring en masse.
A Bar Knife
It may be too soon for an ice-carving blade, but having a nifty bar knife will help you perfectly par your citrus fruit, elevate your garnishes and generally turn those tasks into treats, bringing a whole new level of joy to your cocktail making at home. A small investment goes a long way and look no further than our Coley Cocktail Bar Knife if you are after stunning aesthetics and an ergonomic design.
Ice Cube Trays
Few cocktails don’t need ice. As it melts it becomes part of the mix so it deserves some attention if your homemade cocktails are going to match the pro’s. Whilst ice is relatively easy to get a hold of from your local shop, having your own prepared ice, which is all the same size, can really help when learning to measure and create your cocktails to perfection.
There are of course, the extra-extras which make a bustling barmen work with efficiency and finesse: pourers, tongs, zesters and squeezers – not essential but ideal gifts for the home bar enthusiast and will help perfect any homemade cocktail.
There you have it, the bar tools you need to mix your own cocktails, and some extras to help you on your way to becoming a master yourself. If this has got you thinking about what you can create, check out our barware range; we offer only the best, ask the experts!