The 7 Must Have Beginner's Bar Tools
I'm a beginning mixologist. Like very beginning. I'm pretty sure I don't even have all the 'right' tools but I've been able to get by. However, there are a few that I would recommend just to make your life easier, and they'll probably make your drinks better too:)
Let me first say that by hanging out with me here on the blog, you are guaranteed to look like you know your way around a cocktail because I am guaranteed to make all the mistakes for you in advance. Learn from my mistakes friends. Like the time I tried to mix a drink in a shaker that included a carbonated beverage. Don't do that. Pro tip: Top your drink off with the carbonated beverage, don't add to the shaker.
So, tools. Here are the basic things that I think you'll find helpful in your bar:
(Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive compensation. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and as always I only recommend products I trust!)
This is a great tool to add bubbles or frothiness to drinks that are made with fruit juice. One of my favorite drinks, the Red Crown, adds egg whites to the ingredients in the shaker for a velvety foam on top. It looks pretty too:) My shakers are pretty basic like this one here although I am secretly coveting this rose gold one because ROSE GOLD y'all.
2. Long Stir Spoon
If you're building a drink with a carbonated beverage, you don't want to lose the carbonation because of too much stirring. In otherwords, less handling is key. Once you have your ingredients (including ice) in your glass, top off with your carbonated beverage and give a quick gentle stir.
3. Cocktail Strainer
This is one of the last things I purchased but probably should have been one of the first. You'll need this after you mix your drink in the shaker. When you pour into the glass you don't want the fruit, seeds, or any other solids to pour along with it. Or maybe you do but remember what your Mom said would happen if you swallowed a fruit seed?
Maybe someday I'll upgrade to a fancy juicer but for right now these two work for the basics. The handheld juicer is perfect for fruit like lemons and limes. I use the electric juicer for larger fruit like grapefruit and oranges.
A muddler is great for herbs and fruit. Gently muddle the herbs (kind of like bruising) to release flavor or use the sharper edge to break down fruits and berries or the like. One of my favorite things to drink is ginger beer with a little muddled mint - simply muddle the mint in your glass, add some ice, add the ginger beer. This is one of my go-to drinks when I'm out and there's nothing on the menu.
When I was drinking Stoly martinis and Black Russians on the regular I might have rolled my eyes at you if you suggested measuring the alcohol while making the drink. But alas, unless you're an experimenter/go with the flow/don't follow instructions person like me, it's probably a good idea to measure your ingredients. Sometimes when you're adding ingredients like simple syrup measuring is good. And note, your Seattle Supersonics shot glass you've been saving since 1982 will do the trick but a jigger is better for accurate measuring.
7. Your favorite glassware
It doesn't have to be fancy or trendy, just clean:) Part of what makes your drink special is how it's presented. Nothing says "grown-up soft cocktail" like a pretty glass with some garnish. These silver rimmed glasses from World Market are some of my favorites. Simple with a touch of elegance.
For some soft cocktail recipes to test out your new tools on, be sure to check out my recipe page - fun, grown-up non-alcoholic cocktails that you're going to love to drink and serve.