"What tools do I need to make cocktails at home?"

 Photo by Madison Kay Photography

Photo by Madison Kay Photography

Glad you asked!

Turns out you don't need a lot of expensive equipment to start making great drinks at home. The tools of the trade are pretty simple, affordable and chances are you already have a few in your kitchen.

Without further adieu, here are the things you need for making craft cocktails at home...

10 essentials:

  1. Cocktail Shaker - You'll use this all the time. Really any shaker will do, however I prefer a weighted "tin-on-tin" shaker set, as do most professionals.  
     
  2. Hawthorne Strainer - Even if your shaker has a built-in strainer in the lid, you still need a Hawthorne strainer. The spring allows you to loosen or tighten your strain. This is helpful in preventing chunks of fruit or ice from falling into your drink.
     
  3. Jigger - Consistency is the name of the game, so you gotta measure everything. This OXO jigger is my favorite because it has smaller measurements etched inside.
     
  4. Citrus peeler - You probably already have one of these. Again, it's something you'll use all the time for making garnishes. Never skip the garnish!
     
  5. Muddler - To make good drinks you need to use good ingredients (like fresh herbs and berries). To properly incorporate them into a cocktail, you will most likely need to *gently* muddle them. Opt for a muddler with a flat end instead of a jagged one.
     
  6. Bar spoon - This is used for properly stirring cocktails that are primarily spirit. I especially like this weighted one for smooth stirring.
     
  7. Mixing glass - You'll need this for your Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Martinis, Negronis and other boozy cocktails. However, any mixing vessel with a wide base and pour spout should work (I used my coffee french press for a while!)
     
  8. Hand Juicer - Don't use sugary mixers or other weird ingredients (put that Red Bull away!) Craft cocktails are about fresh, dynamic flavors and ingredients, so you'll be juicing a lot of fruit and sometimes veggies! If you already have a juicer like this one, great! Even if you do, pick up this versatile hand juicer that will help you with most forms of citrus.
     
  9. Ice molds - I can't overstate how important quality ice is in making good cocktails. We'll get more into this later, but these silicone ice molds are a great place to start! You can get a set of large cube molds for Old Fashioneds or even sphere molds.
     
  10. Fine-mesh strainer - This type of strainer is used for "up" drinks (cocktails served without ice). The mesh prevents little bits of ice or other things from getting into your cocktail so it stays clear.

Useful, but you can survive without:

  1. Julep strainer - It's old-school and classy, and I honestly do use one for straining my stirred cocktails. But you can just use your Hawthorne strainer!
     
  2. Mallet and lewis bag - If your refrigerator has a "crushed ice" option, lucky you! This manual ice crushing tool is useful (especially for those tiki drinks!) but you can go without.
     
  3. Cocktail picks - They look fancy and help take your garnishes to the next level. However, they can be difficult to keep track of and easily thrown away on accident by guests.

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Once you have all your tools, jump over to the Bottles section to see what spirits I recommend!