How to stock your home bar with the right tools


The right bar tools can make the difference between great cocktails and sad ones. But if you don't know a jigger from a strainer, Mixologist Allen Katz shows you which tools you should always have at your home bar.

How to stock your home bar with the right tools
  • Two items, the tall mixing glass and the metal shaker, comprise what is known as the classic Boston shaker. You can stir or shake any cocktail. And when you are shaking, make sure the metal part faces you so that if there’s an accident, you get wet, not the person you are making it for.
  • The next classic recipe tool is the jigger. They come in different sizes, from quarter ounce to two ounces, and they can be found in restaurant supply stores, specialty food stores, and bar stores.
  • Once you have shaken or stirred a cocktail, you will need a strainer. A strainer will fit comfortably into the mixing glass to help you strain into your cocktail glass.
  • Another tool you should have is a vegetable peeler or citrus peeler that costs about a dollar and give you a great tool for citrus garnish.
  • A citrus squeezer. They make different sizes for lemons and limes, and they allow you to squeeze fresh juice directly into the cocktail.
  • Next, you need a bar spoon, which can be used to measure or stir.
  • Although not as commonly used, a muddler or muddling stick is a great tool. A muddler is used to mash up fruit or mint right in the glass.

I'm Allen Katz for Before we start mixing cocktails, I want to take you through some of the elemental tools for creating a great home bar.

First and foremost, we're going to talk about shakers. These two glasses comprise a classic Boston Shaker. They fit wonderfully together and create a great seal so that you can stir or shake just about any cocktail. When you're shaking the cocktail, you want to make sure that the tin or the larger compartment is always facing you. Just in case there's an accident and it comes apart, the cocktail comes on you and not the guest that you're serving. To seal the cocktail shaker once you have the ingredients, you simply tamp down on top of the cocktail glass. To release you're simply going to give one, maybe two, swift taps to the side, and with relative ease, the two compartments will disengage.

The next critical element, the critical tool in any home bar is a measuring tool. Classically we use jiggers, and they come in various sizes ranging from quarter ounce to over two ounces. Just about any size that you'll need for classic recipes. Jiggers are very inexpensive and can be found at restaurant supplies stores, specialty food stores, and even now some specialty bar stores. If you don't have jiggers or can't find them, you can also use a classic kitchen-measuring cup, but it's just important to keep in mind that you want to measure out the ingredients as you make the cocktails. Of course once the cocktail is complete, you need to get the cocktail from the shaker into your glass, and that for that we use two different styles of classic strainers. Both fit comfortably into the mixing glass, and allow you to strain into the appropriate glass for any given cocktail.

Some of the tools that are thought to be a little more extraneous but are ideal in my opinion, are one, a simple inexpensive vegetable peeler. When we're doing citrus garnishes like lemons, it's so swift just to take the citrus peeler across the fruit and get a wonderfully fresh aromatic garnish for the cocktail. It's that simple and these cost a dollar in most kitchen stores.

Equal to the usage of citrus is a classic citrus squeezer. Now they make different sizes for limes, for lemons, for oranges, but lemon falls right in the middle range. The fruit fits right into this bottom chamber and whether over your mixing glass, into a jigger, you can simply squeeze fresh juice which is so instrumental in creating great cocktails and it's easy to watch easy to store, and should last a long time.

Next, a bar spoon, both for measuring but also for stirring cocktails. They're many classic cocktails like Manhattans or martinis that are ideally stirred rather than shaken, and this simple bar spoon is the ideal tool to use in that scenario.

Finally, and this is a fun one, we have a muddling stick or simply muddler, and this tool is based on the classic pestle as in mortar and pestle. It’s used when we're combining ingredients like fresh fruit, citrus or otherwise, perhaps fresh herbs like fresh mint. When we combine them in the mixing glass or when we extract some essential oils, or some of those important flavors. We simply use the tool to muddle or to mash those ingredients together, so that the elements combine in our mixing glass.

Those are some of the tools just to help you get started in creating a great home bar. I'm Allen Katz for

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  • Allen Katz

    Allen Katz Cocktail Expert Allen Katz is the Director of Mixology & Spirits Education for Southern Wine & Sprits of New York and the President of the New York chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild. He is Co-Founder and Vice-President of New York Distilling Company. more about this expert »

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