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The essential tools any bartender should own

19 December 2018 / By Matthew Thirst

Empower your bartenders with the skills and tools they need to create the perfect drink.

Whether you are a full-time bartender or an aspiring mixologist, there are a few essential tools you need to know about and ideally should have at hand if you want to look the part and create high-quality cocktails.

Remember, cocktail making is an art, and all good artists need to ensure they have the right tools for the job. That is why we have gathered a list of the most important equipment you need in order to create a killer cocktail and keep your guests coming back for more.   

1. Shakerbar tools

If you are familiar with any popular cocktail recipes you have most likely come across the instruction to shake your ingredients using a cocktail shaker. The reason for this is to quickly and efficiently mix the ingredients and ice together to create a refreshing blend of delicious flavours. A sign of a well-shaken cocktail is a layer of froth in drinks made using dairy, or a fine layer of ice shards on top of a clear cocktail.

There are various types of shakers on the market. The two most common types include the Cobbler Shaker and the Boston Shaker

Cobbler Shaker

The Cobbler shaker is a 3 piece cocktail shaker which includes the base, built-in strainer and the lid. Cobbler shakers tend to have a smaller volume than a Boston shaker, meaning they are better suited to shaking single drinks, and therefore a great tool for home bars and beginners.

Boston Shaker

This shaker consists of 2 parts; a metal tin and a glass cup. You will also need to use a hawthorn strainer to place inside the stainless steel tin to strain out ice shards, pips and pulp from your cocktails. With a larger volume than the cobbler shaker, more than one drink can be shaken at once. Making this shaker the better choice for the professionals and for the bar scene.

Shaking a cocktail is also a simple way to show off your skills to guests/clients or a potential employer. So come on, shake it like you mean it.

2. Jigger

Unless you have mastered the art of free-pouring, a safer bet would be to use a jigger. A jigger is a very important measuring tool used to ensure you have the right ratio of mixers and spirits to create a well-balanced drink. According to The Hour Shop, “Jiggers are to cocktails what measuring spoons are to baking: a basic necessity.”

3. Bar spoon

Shaken or stirred? What’s the difference and when should one stir a drink? Some people shake when they should stir, and it changes the entire texture and mouthfeel of the drink. Shaking adds air, which leads to foam. Usually, the rule of thumb is that if there’s something other than alcohol in the drink, you shake it, with the exception being a drink consisting of soda, tonic or sparkling wine – which should be stirred.

According to an article by Winemag, “stirring is more gentle—a technique intended to delicately combine ingredients and minimize dilution. Use a long-handled bar spoon and stir the drink in circles. Around and around, not up and down. And keep in mind that it takes longer to chill a drink by stirring than by shaking.”

Another reason one would use a bar spoon is to layer drinks, spoon in ingredients (like sugar), and occasionally for measuring small amounts of liquid.

4. Cocktail Strainer / Bar strainerbar tools

After you have stirred up your Manhattan and given that Cosmo a good shake, the next step would be to use a cocktail strainer in order to remove any solid materials you don’t want floating around in the final cocktail such as ice, bits of fruit, torn herbs and other solids. A Cocktail strainer is used to create the perfectly smooth and clear drink.

There are 3 main types of strainers, each of these can be used in different situations so it’s always helpful to know when to use them how to do so correctly. According to the Cocktail Novice “Traditionally, the julep strainer is used when straining a cocktail from a mixing glass, and the Hawthorne when straining from a mixing tin. The fine mesh strainer is there when you need a little extra help creating the smoothest possible finish.

5. Muddlerbar tools

Lastly, we have the muddler, the muddler is that perfect tool a bartender uses to press down on fruits, spices and herbs to extract juices and release the flavours and aromas that make a cocktail so delicious. The muddler is used to make some of the most popular cocktails, including the ‘king’ of muddled drinks – the mojito, the Caipirinha and Juleps.

Add knowledge to your toolbox

Tools are nothing without the right skills behind them. If you see mixology as art and want to be taken seriously as a bartender, join our Thirst Bar Academy, where you will learn everything there is to know about bartending.

Thirst Bar Academy courses range from short courses that teach you everything you need to know to start working a shift behind the bar of your local watering hole, to more intricate curriculums for more experienced bartenders that are ready to take on the international bar scene. Our courses have all been designed by in-house professionals with many years of international experience.

Are you ready to take your skills up a notch? Grab your tools and let’s get shaking!

About The Author

Matthew Thirst