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Essential Bar Tools: A Guide to Building Your Home Bar

If you love to entertain guests at home or simply enjoy a good cocktail, it’s important to have the best bar tools for crafting drinks. From a cocktail shaker to a muddler, there are various bar tools that can make your home bar experience more enjoyable.

Cocktail Shaker

A cocktail shaker is one of the most important bar tools you need for a home bar. It’s a container used for mixing and shaking cocktails. The shaker’s parts depend on the type of shaker it is: a cobbler shaker includes metal container and a lid with a strainer built-in, while a Boston shaker is two tin cups (or one tin and one pint glass).

A shaker is typically used to shake drinks that contain ingredients that don’t mix easily with each other, like juice and alcohol. Cocktails you’d mix with a shaker include a Margarita, Long Island Ice Tea, and Whiskey Sour.

  • Boston Shaker – One of the more popular shakers is the Boston Shaker, made up of a larger metallic tumbler and a smaller tin or pint glass. It can contain larger quantities of liquid compared to other shakers like the cobbler. Since there are only 2 cups, you do need a separate strainer with this style of shaker.
  • Cobbler Shaker – Consisting of a metal container and lid with built-in strainer, the cobbler shaker is a three-piece bar tool that has a slightly smaller capacity than the Boston shaker. Despite its size, it’s still suitable for most drinks and is a popular choice due to its ease of use. The best part? You don’t need any additional tools to strain your drink, although the included strainer is small and may clog easily– so you may want a separate strainer as well.

Cocktail Strainer

This is a tool used to strain the liquid from the shaker, separating the ice and any other solid ingredients.

There are two main types of cocktail strainers: the Hawthorne strainer and the Julep strainer.

Hawthorne Strainer

This strainer is the most common type of cocktail strainer and features a metal disc with four to six round or rectangular holes and a tight coil. It’s designed to fit into the top of a Boston shaker and sit on top of the shaker tin while being held in place by its spring-loaded coil. This allows you to easily pour your drink from the shaker into a glass without spilling any of the ice or other solid ingredients.

Julep Strainer

This is similar in function to a Hawthorne strainer but features a disc with several holes. This strainer is specifically made to fit into a mixing glass and remove solid components like muddled fruits and herbs from a spirit-forward, stirred. The holes keep out more of the solid ingredients while still allowing liquid to pass through without too much resistance. It’s especially useful when making cocktails like a Mint Julep or a Mojito.


A muddler is a tool used to mash ingredients, typically fresh herbs, fruits, and spices, in the bottom of a glass or shaker. Muddling releases the oils and juices from the ingredients, which can then be mixed with other ingredients to create a cocktail. Muddlers come in various shapes and sizes, with the most common being a wooden or stainless steel rod with a flat end.

Additionally, it can be used to create crushed ice. Simply place the muddler in a glass and press down with the flat end to produce the desired texture for your cocktail; you can also put the ice in a plastic bag and crush it with the muddler. Muddlers are an essential tool for anyone looking to make classic cocktails like Mojitos, Caipirinhas, Mint Juleps, and more. With the right muddler and a few key ingredients, you can make sophisticated drinks right at home.

Cocktail Jigger

It’s also important to have a jigger on hand when crafting drinks. A jigger is a small tool used to measure liquid ingredients for cocktails. This small device has two cups, one at each end, in various sizes, which allows you to accurately measure out equal amounts of liquid in one step. Some jiggers come with markings for easy measuring and can help you make the perfect cocktail. With improved accuracy and consistency, your drinks will be better than ever.

Mixing Glass

Usually constructed of glass with a spout to facilitate pouring, mixing glasses are ideal for blending cocktails that do not need aeration like shaking provides; usually the cocktail is spirit-forward, and all the ingredients have the same density, so they only need to be stirred to blend in a balanced way.

Cocktails that you would stir in a mixing glass are typically served without ice, such as a Martini, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or Negroni.

Mixing glasses are also really pretty on any bar. To use them, pair them with a bar spoon and julep strainer. When making stirred cocktails, the bar spoon provides resistance to the stirring action. The julep strainer allows you to effortlessly strain out any solids that may have been included in your recipe.

With this combination of tools, a skilled bartender will be able to whip up any stirred cocktail with ease and sophistication.

Citrus Juicer

This is used to squeeze juice from citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges. Freshly-squeezed citrus juice is a main component in a number of cocktails, and a citrus juicer can come in handy, saving you time and energy.

Citrus juicers are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, ranging from handheld squeezers to models that sit on your countertop.

When it comes to barware, it’s essential to invest in quality tools that will last a long time. Stainless steel barware is a popular choice because it’s durable, easy to clean, and doesn’t rust or corrode. Other materials like copper and glass are also popular and can add a touch of elegance to your home bar, although they can be harder to maintain.

Having the right bar tools can make all the difference in creating delicious cocktails at home. From a cocktail shaker to a muddler, each tool plays a unique role in the cocktail-making process. Investing in high-quality barware can ensure that your tools last a long time and make your home bar experience more enjoyable. With the best barware, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master mixologist in the comfort of your own home.

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