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Bar Basics: The 5 Essential Home Bar Tools

by Chris Harrison 3 min read

The 5 Tools Every Home Bar Needs

Gathering all the right tools for your home bar can be overwhelming. There seems to always be a new specialty tool - different types of spoons, strainers, and even tweezers! But you really only need a few tools to start making craft cocktails at home. You can find these at your local liquor store or in our Essential Bar Kit. We suggest high-quality, stainless steel tools that are equal to what professional bartenders use.

This tool kit is just the beginning. If you're ready to go all-in and build your own home bar, check out this great DIY guide by Adriana Lopez.

#1 The Jigger

The most important tool in your bar!

You've probably seen the double ended jiggers with that measure out a shot on one side and a half shot on the other. For craft cocktails, we prefer a graduated jigger for more precise measurements. This stainless steel version will has both ounces and milliliters visible.

The jigger is part of our Essential Bar Kit.

#2 Shaker Tins

Simpler and easier to use compared to the Boston shaker.

There are a range of shakers out there - a three piece cobbler with a strainer built in, a Boston Shaker which is one metal tin and one pint glass. We're partial to using two metal shaker tins - one 18 oz and one 28 oz. Not only will this type of shaker get your cocktail the coldest, but the 28 oz tin can double as a mixing glass for stirred cocktails. No home bar is complete without this tool! Be sure you look for shakers that have weighted bottoms - this adds strength to the build and gives a solid base for the ice to slam into!

Shaker tins are part of our Essential Bar Kit.

#3 Hawthorne STrainer

The all purpose strainer.

Like shakers, there are a few types of strainers, each traditionally used for different styles of drinks. The Hawthorne Strainer, featuring a large coil spring, is designed to strain shaken cocktails. The coil, when pressed, cinches down to help filter out any ice shards or citrus pulp that was in the cocktail. It also helps aerate the drink which you'll want for a shaken cocktail. Frothy marg anyone?!  A julep strainer is the other main style, and it's a better option for stirred cocktails, but the hawthorne can do the julep's job without issue. Don't ask a julep strainer to pull duty on your shaken cocktails, though!

A Hawthorne Strainer is part of our Essential Bar Kit.

#4 Barspoon

For measuring and stirring.

This tool actually has two essential functions. Most obviously, it's designed to easily stir cocktails in your mixing glass. It's length allows for better ergonomics, relative to any old teaspoon you have laying around. Importantly, a "barspoon" is also a unit of measurement in drinks recipes. The spoon volume varies a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it usually holds about a teaspoon of liquid, perfect for more potent liqueurs and syrups. We'll often call for barspoon measures of our gum syrups!

The barspoon is part of our Essential Bar Kit.

Barspoon

#5 Citrus Juicer

Always use fresh citrus juice in your cocktails!

Also known as an elbow juicer, this hand-held tool fits half a lemon or lime at a time and will strain out seeds and large pieces of pulp. A hand juicer isn't an essential tool, but it is one of the most useful ones to have on your bar. We recommend an enamel or stainless steel one. Don't skimp on quality - these juicers receive a lot of torque and the cheaper ones are known to break regularly. 

We like this stainless steel juicer by Zulay Kitchen

Citrus Juicer

Ready to put those bar tools to use?

Check out our cocktail recipe collection with over 400 recipes!


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