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You’ve stocked your favorite spirits, mixers, and garnishes together and gathered your essential glassware. But before you start shaking that ice, make sure your home bar has the tools you need. Here’s a list of the Best Bar Tools and Equipment that covers the basics and beyond for every level of home mixologist, many of which I use in my own kitchen. Plus, discover my tips for common kitchen tools that double for cocktail-making!
Your home bar may be wildly different than someone else’s, because it’s all about personal taste and cocktail preference. But when it comes to the hardware, well, a fully-stocked bar is only a bunch of bottles without the proper tools for mixing that drink.
You can start off with a basic bar toolset and then graduate to fancier items for specialty cocktails when you’re ready. Pick and choose exactly what you need based on the drinks you actually make, and leave the rest. And don’t forget, you already plenty gadgets in your kitchen that work for cocktails, so put those to use!
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Best Kitchen Tools for Cocktails
There is a lot of overlap between kitchen tools and bar tools. For example, you don’t really need a jigger when you have a small liquid measuring cup (but you might want one anyway, and that’s okay!).
Here are some common kitchen tools that will make Happy Hour easier (and you might already have them):
- Paring knife
- Vegetable peeler
- Citrus zester
- Citrus juicer
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
- Ice cube trays
- Small strainer
And, there are common kitchen tools that can double as bar tools:
- Handle of a wooden spoon as a muddler
- Any long spoon as a bar spoon
- Meat tenderizer as mallet for ice
- Any glass as a mixing glass
- Mason jar with lid as a cocktail shaker (just don’t add anything carbonated!)
Meggan’s Top Picks for Bar Tools and Equipment
1. Best Cobbler Shaker: Etens Gold Cocktail Shaker
I own several cocktail shakers, and you can learn all about my favorites in my roundup of best cocktail shakers post. A good cocktail shaker is important if you like any ice-cold cocktails served up in a glass, like Gimlets or Hemingway Daquiris. This version is popular among home mixologists because it has a mixing cup and built-in strainer on top (and a cap to seal it all in).
2. Best Boston Shaker: Homestia Gold Boston Cocktail Shaker
The choice of professional bartenders everywhere, a Boston shaker is simply two metal cups that fit inside each other, forming a seal that’s easy to open after shaking. It takes a little more coordination but allows for extra showmanship if you’re mixing for a tiny crowd, and I love this gold option.
3. Best Cocktail Shaker Set: Homestia Gold Cocktail Shaker Set
There are cocktail shaker sets for sale that include extra tools such as a jigger, bar spoon, a muddler, a strainer, and even bottle toppers, so that might be a fun way to get started if you don’t know exactly what you want. Usually, they are a great value for what you get vs. buying items individually. I use — and love — and it comes with all your necessary tools for the bar.
4. Best Hawthorne Strainer: Thirsty Rhino Hawthorne Cocktail Strainer
This Hawthorne strainer is made from food-safe stainless steel to resist rust while looking great. But, the true beauty of a Hawthorne strainer lies in the coils: These tightly-wound pieces of wire hold back ice from the glass ensuring only your cocktail sails through. A set of prongs hold the strainer in place and it fits snugly into any shaker or mixing glass.
5. Best Julep Strainer: A Bar Above Professional Bartender Julep Strainer
This Julep strainer is made from food-safe stainless steel so it resists rust cocktail after cocktail. Its oblong shape fits over any mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Although it was designed for Mint Juleps in particular, it works well for stirred cocktails, too, such as Whiskey Sours.
6. Best Conical Strainer: A Bar Above Professional Bartender Fine Mesh Sieve Strainer
This stainless-steel strainer is rust-proof, and the conical shape means your favorite cocktails can be strained even faster. You can also use the strainer to dust cocoa powder or powdered sugar on your cocktails, and you can put this stainer to use elsewhere in your kitchen.
7. Best Mixing Glass: Mixologists Cocktail Mixing Glass
Add an extra touch of loveliness to your cocktail setup with this 17-ounce cut-glass mixing vessel. The 1/4-inch thick walls make it feel sturdy in your hand, and a spout on one side makes pouring smooth. I use this mixing glass and find that works great with a bar spoon and a Hawthorne strainer.
8. Best Bar Spoon: Homestia Silver Bar Spoon
This is a terrific multi-tasker. The long, twisted handle twirls the spoon in the ice as it runs along the rim of a mixing glass. But it’s also a life-saver for fishing olives or cherries out of a narrow jar. You’ll use it more than you think, especially if you like Dirty Shirleys.
9. Best Jigger: Briout Double Gold Cocktail Jigger
Indispensable and so much better (and more accurate!) than a shot glass, this jigger is made from high-quality stainless steel. Official jiggers like this one measure 1 ½ ounces on one side and 1 ounce on the other. This version also has several markings for other capacities just in case you need it. Choose from silver, gold, rose gold, or black, and all of them around 6 bucks.
10. Best Measuring Cups: OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set
For measurements larger than a jigger, these are my all-time favorite liquid measuring cups. I love how convenient it is to view the measurements from above instead of from the side (it’s the little things in life). Buy them for your home bar, but use them for everything else in your kitchen!
11. Best Corkscrew: Evriholder Winged Corkscrew
A must-have for opening bottles of wine or beer. I like this one because it’s inexpensive yet functional. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done, and that’s really all I want from my corkscrew.
12. Best Lemon Squeezer: IMUSA Yellow Lemon Squeezer
If I’m only making a couple of drinks, I’ll use a hand-held lemon squeezer, a simple and inexpensive option for extracting fresh citrus juice. This one is cheap but works great. If you don’t love the yellow color, it comes in green and orange, too.
13. Best Electric Juicer: Cuisinart Pulp Control Citrus Juicer
If you visit Margaritaville often, consider investing in a tabletop electric juicer. I have this model by Cuisinart and I like how it scraps every last bit of juice out of the citrus while controlling pulp. It automatically changes the direction it spins which helps with the extraction process. The unit itself is compact, easy to store, and easy to clean.
14. Best Peeler: OXO Good Grips Y-Peeler
Whether you’re zesting citrus for an Aperol Spritz or shaving chocolate curls for a Mudslide, (like the photo above), a Y-shaped vegetable peeler is an excellent tool for cocktail time. This version from OXO is my long-time favorite and yields fat, wide, yet beautifully sheer pieces of peel. You’ll find yourself reaching for it every time you need to peel potatoes or carrots, too!
15. Best Citrus Zester: OXO Good Grips Citrus Zester with Channel Knife
This handheld citrus zester has a built-in channel knife for making little strips of peel for a twist or other garnishes. I love the soft grip handle and the blade always stays sharp. Pro Tip: To make picture-perfect citrus twists, pin your zest peel round a straw until it holds the shape.
16. Best Microplane Grater: Deiss PRO Lemon Zester
A micro grater is handy for grating cinnamon, nutmeg for Eggnog, or other spicy ingredients over a drink. And, you can use it for zesting lemons and limes for DIY Margarita salt. Honestly, this grater is good enough for a spot in your kitchen drawer, and you’ll probably use it more for your regular cooking than you will for cocktails. And that’s fine with me!
17. Best Ice Cube Trays: Kitch Large Cube Silicone Ice Tray, Pack of 2
When it comes to ice cubes, there are so many fun shapes and sizes: Spheres, colossal cubes, sticks, and more. I look for silicone ice cube trays because they make popping out the cubes a breeze like these large ones. Pro-tip: Stay away from freezable rocks or liquid-filled plastic shapes that claim to keep your cocktail cold without dissolving it. No one needs chemicals in their Tom Collins.
Get the Kitch Large Cube Silicone Ice Tray:
Get the Glacio Large Ice Sphere Mold:
18. Paring Knife: Victorinox Swiss Classic 3.1-inch Straight Edge Paring Knife
This is my long-time favorite paring knife because it is sharp, long-lasting, easy to handle, and inexpensive. I found the Victorinox brand because Cook’s Illustrated always recommended their chef’s knife. I looked into other knives by the brand and loved this paring knife (and I always buy it in a set with a small serrated knife and tourné, aka “bird’s beak”).
Victorinox Swiss Classic 3.1-inch Straight Edge Paring Knife:
Victorinix Swiss Classic 3-Piece Paring Knife Set:
19. Best Cutting Board: Stanton Trading 6″x9.5″ White Plastic Cutting Board
Find a small, good-quality cutting board keep it in your bar cart so you’re always prepared and your drink never smells of raw garlic. I prefer plastic cutting boards over wood for food safety reasons and because they are dishwasher-safe. This mini cutting board is inexpensive yet extremely sturdy, and it’s one of my go-to tools for all kinds of kitchen tasks.
20. Best Mallet and Ice Bag: Wood Hammer and Lewis Bag for Crushed Ice
If you love crushed ice in your Mint Julep, this should move to the top of your want list. A triple-stitched, heavy-duty canvas bag and hardwood mallet do the job nicely, without a mess. Used by bartenders as far back as the 19th century. This set comes with a sturdy scoop and set of tongs, too. Pro-tip: Don’t mix the drink with your crushed ice. The chips are for finished cocktails only.
21. Best Muddler: Fletcher’s Mill Sold Wood Cocktail Muddler
Love Mojitos or a classic Old Fashioned? Get a smooth wooden muddler, which bruises mint, crushes sugar cubes, and mashes fruit into flavorful oblivion. Sometimes muddlers come in cocktail shaker sets, so double-check whether you already have one. If not, I love the feel of this solid, hand-crafted muddler made with sustainable wood.
22. Best Ice Bucket: Mr. Ice Bucket 3-Quart Brushed Gold Ice Bucket
I love gold bar accessories (because my bar cart is gold), but you should buy one that fits your personal style. The one I chose has stainless steel on the inside, but the double insulation outside prevents condensation. Also, consider the size: If you’re using it to serve ice, 2 or 2 ½ liters might be fine. If you’re hoping to chill a bottle of champagne in it, you’ll want at least a 3-liter capacity. Look for one that is easy to clean, and consider whether you want a lid or tongs to come with it.
Get the Mr. Ice Bucket 3-Quart Brushed Gold Ice Bucket:
Get the Godinger Dublin Ice Bucket:
Get the La Jolla Rattan Ice Bucket:
23. Best Ice Scoop: New Star Foodservice 12-ounce Stainless Steel Scoop
Great for the at-home bartender or party guest, this aluminum scoop keeps ice hands-free and clean. Many scoops are made with aluminum which can be hand-wash only; I like this one because the stainless steel is sturdy and is dishwasher-safe. Not just for ice, you can use this scoop with snacks like Chex Mix, Puppy Chow, and popcorn, or get different sizes to use with your baking dry goods like flour and sugar.
24. Best Tongs: True 6-inch Stainless Steel Ice Tongs
You can get really fancy with tongs, but these little silver ones certainly get the job done. Before you buy them, double-check whether you already have some on hand from a cocktail shaker set or ice bucket (sometimes they include tongs).
Get the True 6-inch Stainless Steel Ice Tongs:
Get the Sizikato Stainless Steel Chicken Feet Tongs:
25. Best Bottle Pourers: Stainless Steel Bottle Pourers
Made out of metal or plastic, these pour spouts fit tightly into the mouth of any liquor bottle and make pouring faster and easier. They’re great for high-volume parties and events, but should be removed from the bottle when the party is over. Plus, there’s a little brush to keep it clean!
26. Best Measuring Spoons: Rena Chris Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons, Set of 6
These are helpful for measuring out simple syrup, grenadine, and even liquor itself, especially if you don’t have a jigger or if measurements aren’t given in ounces. And as far as I’m concerned, you can never have too many measuring spoons. Personally, I prefer to remove them from the keyring so I can pull out just the one that I need. This is a simple set, but it’s made from stainless steel and has 6 sizes, from ⅛ teaspoon to 1 tablespoon, including the most underrated size, the ½ tablespoon.
27. Best Swizzle Sticks: BarSoul Stainless Steel Swizzle Sticks with Gold Pineapple Top
A small selection of swizzle sticks, drinker stirrers, straws, and cocktail picks helps everyone mix their drink between sips. This is another chance for you to get super creative or offer cocktail props on a theme. And luckily, they don’t take up too much space in your bar when party time is over. I adore these pineapple ones (they’re perfect for tropical drinks!), but I’ve found a few other fun tropical options too.
Get the BarSoul Stainless Steel Swizzle Sticks with Gold Pineapple Top:
Get the GaryVault Flamingo Cocktail Stirrers:
Get the Gary Vault Palm Leaf Drink Stirrer Sticks:
28. Best Wine Key: TrueTap Double-hinged Wine Key with Foil Cutter
Even if you already have a corkscrew, a wine key is always nice to have. This one is sturdy, solidly-built, and will somehow wind up being used all time. It’s a bottle opener, foil cutter, and corkscrew in one, and it comes in a plethora of colors (22, to be exact).
29. Best Cocktail Napkins: Sparkle and Bash 100 Pack Fruit Cocktail Napkins
Protect wooden surfaces and hands from drips and condensation with a good set of cocktail napkins or coasters. This set has 4 different fruity designs, 25 per design, for 100 napkins total. I love the gilded edge and the bright colors, but there are lots of cocktail napkins out there, both paper AND cloth. For cloth napkins, I prefer linen, cotton, or a blend of the two instead of something synthetic, if possible.
Get the Sparkle and Bash Fruit Cocktail Napkins:
Get the Saro Embroidered and Hemstitch Cocktail Napkin, Set of 12:
30. Best Paper Umbrellas: ISUSSER Multicolor Paper Umbrellas
Little paper umbrellas are the crowning touch on any tropical cocktail, mocktail, or cupcake. They are also fun table decorations for parties on the same theme, such as my Tropical Party menu. It comes with 144 pieces that will last you a long time. Or, you can find accessory packs that include a selection of paper umbrellas, stirring sticks, and straws.
Get the ISUSSER Multicolor Paper Umbrellas:
Get the SANNIX Cocktail Accessories:
Tips for building your cocktail tool collection
- Watch your favorite bartender: Keep an eye peeled in between sips at your local bar and watch what they do, and more importantly what they use to mix your favorite drink. Bartenders love to talk shop (in fact, talking is shop) so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Bar tool set or individual pieces: Although they’re pretty, some bar sets may not stand up to rigorous use and may require special washing or handling. Check the design and construction of the set you’re considering before you buy; chances are you can get better gear for less money.
- Collect over time: Investing in quality bar tools can be done gradually—just like stocking a home bar. Buy the basics, then upgrade when your budget allows. Vintage bar utensils are also with looking into, mainly because they’ve stood the test of time.
- Express yourself: Purchase pieces that reflect your style or match your bar cart. Just like setting a table for a dinner party, a fun bar with a lot of personality is a great way to start off the night.
Why You Can Trust Us
I’m Meggan, a classically-trained chef, professional writer, and the Editor-in-Chief of Culinary Hill, a food blog visited by millions of readers every month. I’ve crafted hundreds of cocktails and other drinks, and I know what tools make the job easier and more fun. My meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. I have been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.
The Best Cocktail Recipes
Now that you have all your favorite tools on hand, let’s make some drinks! Don’t forget to grab your favorite cocktail glasses and then get mixing. Some classic cocktails you won’t want to miss include:
Prices were accurate at time of publication.
What to Buy
What to Buy
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.