Last month, we showed you the essential spirits and mixers you need to create the ultimate at-home bar. This month, we went to eight top bartenders and mixologists & asked them to share the equipment and gadgets they can’t work without. From soda streams and blenders to stemless wine glasses and Mexican elbows, here’s everything you need to complete your bar and pep up your at-home drinking experience.
Agostino Perrone & Giorgio Bargiani, The Connaught
As bartenders, we love glassware. There are some key glassware styles that will cater for the top drinks you might be wanting to mix at home. With coupes you can serve champagne, margaritas and manhattans. A rocks glass will work for an old fashioned, negroni, sour and any other spirits you just want to sip over ice. A collins glass will cater for long serves (normally a spirit base topped with a mixer) such as a G&T. Finally, a martini glass is a must. When not in use, display on top of your drinks cabinet as an elegant accessory.
This is a key tool for us at The Connaught as we very much prefer stirred cocktails, especially the martini, over shaken ones. The stirred drink will offer a lighter and fresher texture, and it simply matches our cocktail style better. At home, you can use your own mixing glass with a long bar spoon to mix the ingredients or make up for it by simply mixing the ingredients in the base of your shaker or in a large, tall glass.
If the space allows, a dedicated bar area with a standalone fridge for drinks ingredients certainly adds a touch of professionalism and elegance to your cocktail hour.
These come in a range of cool designs, from the traditional and sophisticated to the contemporary and edgy. Good department stores always offer a great variety of kitchen and barware so you can pick the ice bucket that matches your design taste and your home style.
For me, fresh is best when making cocktails, so you’ll need a hand juicer for your citrus and a proper juicer for other fruit and veg ingredients. This makes it way easier to incorporate cucumber or watermelon juice, which are perfect for summery cocktails.
Ice is a huge part of your cocktail, so don’t skimp on it. Good ice is key when making a cocktail, so I recommend getting some high-quality ice moulds, and get creative by adding fruit, flowers and herbs to your cubes for extra flavour.
A soda stream is very handy to make effervescent and refreshing cocktails – and it’s eco-friendly too. They are simple to use and help you play around with different infusions, as they can flavour the water with fruit and herbs before it’s carbonated.
Joe McCanta, Head Of Mixology & Education At Bacardi
I prefer using a tin-to-tin one rather than a three-piece. Three-piece shakers look good but are often fussy and the top can get stuck. My go-to spot for top-quality equipment is Cocktail Kingdom. For the shaker, I recommend the Leopold tins, which are weighted.
The most underrated bar tool is a citrus press. Make sure you spend money for a quality one as you want it to last.
Like everyone, I don’t think you can beat Soho Home for barware.
This is your measuring device. Most jiggers now come double-sided, with a 25ml measure at one end and a 50ml measure at the other. Every drink you create will be made up of different quantities of ingredients (spirits, juices, syrups, etc) and using a jigger will ensure you use the right proportions of each, making the most of their flavour and creating the tastiest drink possible.
One of these is especially important for any cocktails that include citrus or other fruit juices, syrups, cream liqueurs or sour mixes, as these liquids need a little extra help in marrying their flavours together. Gin sours and rum punches are perfect for making in a cocktail shaker. Make sure you use a Hawthorne strainer when pouring your concoction into your glass, which will stop any small bits of ice or fruit from going into your serve.
Mixing Jug & Bar Spoon
For cocktails that don’t need shaking, a mixing jug and bar spoon is the perfect way to expertly judge your dilution and flavour combinations. ‘Stirred down’ cocktails like a negroni are best made with a mixing jug and bar spoon to ensure maximum taste. Make sure you use a julep strainer this time, which will catch your ice cubes, before serving over fresh ice. Bar spoons are also great for any ‘built’ serves, like a gin and tonic – simply give your G&T a quick stir before serving to marry all those wonderful flavours and aromas.
A good set of ice tongs look great on a home bar, and give you control when carefully placing your ice (and garnish) in a glass.
Don’t underestimate the power of a decent bottle opener – a good-looking one is a must-have for any home bar.
This is the new kid on the mixology block. It’s an innovative piece of cocktail equipment that allows bartenders to make edible bubbles, flavoured mist and smoke clouds. These flavoured bubbles sit on top of drinks and are easily popped to release a scented mist that smells beautiful and infuses flavour into cocktails. It’s not cheap, but we’ve not seen anything as fun as this since dry ice had its heyday.
I suggest something like a Nutribullet. You can use it for smoothies and sauces, but it’s also perfect for making frozen cocktails.
Stainless Steel Straws
These are reusable, so better for the environment and also great for outdoor cocktail parties.
Great for quickly frothing up your morning coffee, or your whisky sour.
Keen cocktail connoisseurs might consider investing in one of these. They make it easy to bulk prep your cocktail garnishes – such as dehydrated fruit slices – and store in a jar for quick cocktails. I also always have jars of maraschino cherries and stuffed olives in the cupboard for classic, easy garnishes that also add flavour to your serves.
Stemless Wine Glasses
My glass of choice for cocktails at home – you only need to buy one set and can then use them for anything from wine to cocktails and spritzes.
This tool helps release the flavours of your cocktail ingredients. It’s essential for making a mojito or old fashioned and is used to crush (or muddle) herbs, mint, spices and fruits. Typically made of a rounded hardwood, a muddler can even be used to crack ice to help add a finishing touch to your cocktail.
While it is possible to roughly gauge quantities, to gain consistency and follow recipes, it’s vital to invest in measures for your spirits.
For nearly all cocktails, whether shaken or stirred, chances are they’ll need to be strained into the glass. As a starting point, I would suggest a julep strainer and a fine strainer; these will ensure every drink you make will be free from bits, pips and ice shards.
Lots of cocktails require the use of lemon or lime juice, and this tool will get the juice out quickly and efficiently. Cheap ones will snap, so invest in a heavy-duty alloy one.