At Cheeky we're often asked what bar tools to stock at home. The answer greatly depends on you!
What are you looking to do?
Want to execute great drinks at home?
Looking to make better libations for your boo on date night?
Looking forward to celebrating with friends and showing off some new cocktail skills?
What type of drinker are you?
Do you typically veer towards refreshing, bright, and crushable drinks or bold but smooth sippers?
Not Sure? A little bit of everything? Need a drink?!
Don't worry. We put together this short guide to help you regardless of whether you're looking to make great drinks in large quantities or just what you need to make a consistent and delicious drink at home every time.
Basic Bar Tools and When & How to Use Them!
You only need a few tools in your kit to make an endless variety of cocktails. Here is what we like:
image: footed tin-on-tin shaker by crafthouse
We Use Shakers to make all kinds of refreshing cocktails including Daiquiris, Margaritas, and Whiskey Sours
The “Tin-on-tin” is an all metal variation of the classic Boston Shaker, a two-piece cocktail shaker comprised of a metal 28oz tin and a 16oz/Pint glass.
We love the tin-on-tin because there’s no risk of breakage and you still have the benefit of a large vessel to shake multiple drinks in! Classic, easy to store, unbreakable! A triple threat!
Who Should Get A Shaker? If you frequently lean towards bright citrusy drinks, this is for you.
Why? Juice is an essential element in many classic cocktails that has to be b-armed into harmonizing with the other ingredients. A tin shaker set allows you to create the good hard shake you need to properly emulsify your ingredients to their perfect texture and consistency
Cheeky Tip: Look for tins with weighted bottoms, as these offer better balance and stability during use. Also, always pour ingredients into the smaller tin.
Want to know more about how to use your cocktail shaker? Watch Cheeky Aaron show you how to make and shake a drink!
Stirred drinks are enjoyed for their silky texture and long lasting sip-ability. Think Manhattan, Rum Old Fashioned, Gin Martini.
Though a standard pint glass will work just fine, a larger mixing glass will hold several cocktails at once making it easy to execute stirred drinks quickly for medium sized gatherings. One well chosen mixing glass can go a long way towards finessing the perfect stirred cocktail.
Cheeky Tip: There are a range of styles, sizes, and price tags to consider here. At Cheeky we like a medium to large sized mixing glass to accommodate various sized groups. Also, we like one that is bottom heavy with a sturdy lip so our work and cleanup is easy and breakage is never a problem.
JIGGERS A bartender's best friend when it comes to accurately measuring ingredients quickly and efficiently. Often hourglass shaped, jiggers come in various sizes, usually with etched inner walls noting smaller measurements. Every bartender will have an argument for why they prefer one jigger over another but a home bar shouldn't need more than one.
Cheeky Tip: Regardless what jigger you choose, become familiar with where its measurement lines are and try to keep the jigger as upright as possible so your pours are correct.
Cheeky Tip Bonus: Even the most carefully executed drinks are off sometimes; tasting a drink before you serve it gives you a chance to correct any imbalance easily with a touch of this or that. Do an abbreviated stir or shake to incorporate extra ingredients and check again before serving up!
Long-stemmed, often spiraled or with smooth cylindrical shafts, bar spoons are designed for effortless drink stirring with as little agitation to the ice as possible for a smooth textured drink.
The spoon itself can be used to measure smaller portioned ingredients, some have end caps for muddling or are forked for hands-free garnishing. A bar spoon is the perfect companion piece to a mixing glass.
Cheeky Tip: Not all bar spoons are made equal and cheaply manufactured ones don't necessarily have the balance, weight, or smoothness to justify any savings. If this is the case, you'll simply never use it. When possible, buy in person and see what feels best in your hand.
Strainers: Here are the 3 Main Types and When & Why to Use Each
Hawthornes - With perforated holes and tightly wound coils, these are great for sifting out the solids in shaken drinks such as pulp, egg white, and bits of herbs. They are the sidekick to your shaker tins and the easiest way to strain your cocktails neatly and efficiently.
Cheeky tip: Try to purchase in person with your shaker to be sure the size matches the diameter of your tins. The strainer should do the work for you, easily holding all the ice back to ensure a smooth flow of the cocktail without slopping around the sides.
Juleps - Essentially large slotted spoons, julep strainers work great for keeping the desirable silky texture of stirred drinks intact while easily holding back the ice in the mixing glass during your pour.
Cheeky tip: a Hawthorne is a possible substitute for the julep strainer but you'll have much less success the other way around.
Tea Strainer - These are used as a second line of defense for shaken drinks that have additional solids such as berries, herbs, or eggs incorporated into their make. They are used along with the Hawthorne strainer to safeguard against any undesirable solids from making their way into your glass, ensuring that you are left with only the best parts of your efforts.
Cheeky Tip: Though it might seem fussy, this mesh strainer can do wonders for your finished cocktail if you plan to shake with fresh fruit/herbs! No one likes half the drink stuck between their pearly whites, so keep those solids out!
MUDDLERS - Most well known for their contribution to the Mojito, muddlers are used to mash and extract essential oils from the skin of fruits and herbs, breakdown sugars and hard spices and juice fresh citrus right in a mixing glass or tin.
Whether shopping in person or online, source your tools from a company that specializes in barware whenever possible. They will have put in the work to source high quality products, and you're more likely to come across super knowledgeable staff.