Making cocktails at home can seem overwhelming but it’s actually possible to get started with just a few basic cocktail tools. Below are the tools that I use most often to create impressive cocktails at home. I recommend starting with the basics and then slowly expanding your collection based on your personal taste.
Disclaimer: Once your friends find out that your new hobby is drinking fancy cocktails on your couch, you can expect uninvited guests regularly.
If you want to start making cocktails at home, these are the most basic tools you need to get started.
Cobbler Shaker: A cobbler shaker is the basic all-in-one cocktail shaker consisting of a cup and straining lid. This is the best type of shaker to start out with. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require any additional tools. You will use a cocktail shaker for drinks with citrus, egg white, juice, etc.
Double-Sided Jigger: Choose a 2-sided jigger with multiple measures. Mine measures 1 1/2 ounces on one side and 1/2, 3/4 and 1 ounce on the other. Using shot glasses and tablespoons gets old quick. The other option is a small liquid measuring cup with ounces. Just make sure it goes as low as 1/2 oz.
Muddler: Grab a wood or steel muddler with a club-like shape. This is especially important if you like fresh fruit and herbs in your cocktails.
Citrus Press: Fresh citrus truly upgrades a cocktail and a hand citrus press is the best for when life gives you lemons.
Don’t throw any of this stuff away. You may need it to make a cocktail!
Sharp Knife: Booze + citrus + a dull knife = disaster. Chef’s knife, paring knife, nakiri knife (one of my personal favorites), it doesn’t really matter just as long as it’s sharp!
Peeler: Use your veggie peeler to prep your fruit/veggies and for garnish stuff.
Blender: I’m sure you already have a blender handy to make your green smoothies. You will also need it to make your boozy slushies and frose. All joking aside, I use my blender often.
Once you are making cocktails more regularly, add these items to your toolbox slowly based on your needs.
Hawthorne Strainer: This basic strainer with a coil is used to keep ice, muddled fruit and herbs out of your cocktail.
Bar Spoon: A bar spoon is basically a little spoon with a long handle so you don’t have to stick your fingers into your stirred cocktail.
Mixing Glass: Cocktails that are made entirely (or almost entirely) of liquor, should be stirred. In addition to looking pretty on your bar cart, a mixing glass is helpful for making these stirred cocktails. A pint glass is a good alternative in the meantime.
These items are never really necessary but can be nice to have if you really want to impress your friends.
Fine Strainer: A fine strainer is used to double strain cocktails and keep out small bits of herb and pulp that get past a hawthorne strainer or built in strainer. This is just a nice to have but definitely not a necessity for cocktails at home.
Boston Shaker: Boston shakers are the 2 piece shakers you see at most bars consisting of a large metal tumbler and a smaller second glass or metal cup. They take a little more expertise because you need to get a tight seal to prevent a mess.
Lewis Ice Bag: Used for taking aggression out on your ice. If your freezer doesn’t bless you with crushed ice, use this fabric bag with a mallet or meat pounder to crush it by yourself. You’ll use crushed ice when you’re making tiki drinks and juleps.
Ice Cube Molds: Large ice cubes are great if you are a whiskey sipper or enjoy straight drinks. You can use smaller cube molds to make juice cubes, cubes with flowers and other fun touches.
And that’s it! If you need a cocktail to start with, I love this Cucumber Bee’s Knees.