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If you’ve ever been to a fancy cocktail bar, the thought of recreating those drinks at home may seem like a daunting undertaking. Bartenders have an array of strange and unique tools that exist only for making cocktails, and a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of how to wield them. Making cocktails at home is actually not nearly as hard as it seems, and it can be incredibly fun (and delicious). We have compiled this guide of essential cocktail tools to help dispel any confusion, and to get you on the right path to making tasty libations.

We have personally used and recommend the items listed below. Happy crafting! - Tom & Dan


The Bar Book, By Jeffrey Morgenthaler

This should be the starting point for anyone wanting to learn the proper technique for making cocktails at home. Unlike most cocktails books, which are usually chocked full of an overwhelming amount of recipes, Jeffrey instead focuses on the basics you need to assemble any type of cocktail. He does a great job of explaining the proper way to use many of the tools listed below. Required reading.


OXO Steel Angled Measuring Jigger

The first tool needed, of course, is a way to measure liquid. In this case, a jigger. Seasoned bartenders are able to pour without a measure, but many still elect to, as accuracy is important in making cocktails. The smallest imbalance can throw the whole drink off. You can’t really go wrong choosing any jigger, but we like the OXO Steel Angled Measuring Jigger. Not much to look at, but it gets the job done, and the pour spout allows for a controlled pour. If you’d like to go for something a little nicer, try the Cocktail Kingdom Japanese Style Jigger.


Schott Zwiesel Boston Shaker

There any many varieties of shakers out there, some with built in strainers, but we vote for the tried and true Boston Shaker. This is required for any drink that needs to be shaken, and the glass half can be used as a mixing glass as well. About as simple and classic as it gets.


OXO Steel Cocktail Strainer

After drinks are shaken with ice in the Boston Shaker, they need to be strained into their final vessel. Something called a Hawthorne strainer is the classic choice, and this one from OXO gets the job done, and it is hard to beat for the price.

Bar Spoon

Swissmar Stainless Steel Cocktail Spoon with Hammer

Once you have the technique down, stirring a drink is quite satisfying. This experience can be ruined by a cheap and lightweight spoon, however. This spoon from Swissmar does the trick. It’s a solid construction, and has a nice weight to it. Plus the “hammer” on the end can be used to muddle herbs, in a Mojito or Mint Julep, for example.


Neat Ice Kit

We are biased, of course, but how could we not recommend the Neat Ice Kit? It’s a great solution for the budding at-home cocktail enthusiast, as it allows you to create any ice type you would conceivably need for a cocktail. And it comes with a muddler, Lewis bag, and bottle opener to boot.


Pug Muddler

If you elect to go with the Neat Ice Kit, lucky you: a wooden muddler is included. If not, this one from Pug is a nice option. It’s hand-turned and available in a variety of hardwoods. The angled backside allows for a nice spot to rest your thumb or palm (depending how you grip) while muddling.


Sur La Table Glass Citrus Juicer

When it comes to juicing citrus fruits, some may recommend a hinged hand press, like this one. While these do squeeze juice quickly, they can be messy and are really designed for larger batches. If you are only making one or two drinks at home, as we typically are, we prefer a tried and true glass, steel, or porcelain juicer, like the one from Sur La Table. They extract the most juice from each piece of fruit, and the spout allows for quantities to be measured much easier than a hinged hand press.


Angostura, Peychaud’s, and Fee Brothers Orange

Bitters are used in countless cocktails, and these three are the essentials. Angostura and Peychaud’s are required brands, but any orange bitter will do. We like Fee Brothers; Regan’s is another good choice. The great thing about bitters is they last indefinitely if stored in a dry and temperate place. These three will keep you covered and last a very long time.


Hansen’s 8oz Cans

Tonic and Club Soda are annoying to keep on hand, because they go flat so quickly once opened. These 8 oz cans from Hansen’s are a great work around. Keep the 24 pack in the pantry, and add cans to the fridge as you need.

Simple Syrup

Simple Syrup Kit

There is no reason to buy simple syrup, as it is stupidly easy to make at home. If you would allow us, may we recommend our own Simple Syrup Kit? The bottle is super classy, with lines printed on the outside so you can make the simple syrup right in the bottle. We also found a great pour spout, that doesn’t drip or get all gummed up from repeated use. And, if you prefer to do all your shopping online, Amazon even has some nice sugars: Demerara, Turbinado, Muscovado.


Stolzle Double Old Fashioned Glass

Choosing the right glassware for cocktails is a rabbit hole that probably deserves its own guide. However, as a baseline, having a nice rocks glass (also referred to as an Old Fashioned glass) is a must. They are by far the most versatile. This set from Stolzle are durable and sturdy, and feel great in the hand. A Neat Ice cube fits perfectly inside, as well.

Non-essential but nice


OXO Good Grips Y Peeler

OXO earns the hat trick with their third appearance on this list. When adding a slice of citrus peel for garnish or additional flavor, a knife can certainly be used, but this peeler will make easier work of it.

Mixing Glass

Cocktail Kingdom Yarai Mixing Glass

If you have the Boston Shaker we mentioned above, then a mixing glass is not altogether necessary, because you can just use the glass portion of the shaker as a mixer. However, there is something to be said about using a classy, sturdy mixing glass. The two of us purchased nice mixing glasses with the classic Yarai pattern at a cool bar shop in Tokyo, but obviously we can’t recommend that for everyone. We haven’t personally used the Cocktail Kingdom mixing glass linked above, but it is similar to the ones we have. We have used this one from Sur La Table, which is cost effective, but the walls are indeed quite a bit thinner than the alternative.

Julep Strainer

Cocktail Kingdom Premium Julep Strainer, Silver Plated

The type of strainer that should be used in conjunction with a mixing glass is called a Julep strainer, which is essentially a big metal spoon with holes in it. Of course, the aforementioned Hawthorne strainer can be used, but we don’t write the rules of cocktail technique, we just report them. There are numerous cheap options on Amazon, but the Cocktail Kingdom model is a bit more robust.

Fine Mesh Strainer

RSVP Endurance Conical Mesh Strainer, 3-inch

For certain drinks, a technique known as “double straining” is desired, in which the drink passes through two strainers (typically a Hawthorne and then a fine-mesh) before pouring into the drinking vessel. Shaken drinks often call for a double strain, to make sure no pulp fragments or tiny shards of ice make their way into the final drink. This 3-inch mesh strainer from RSVP is a solid choice.