In my cocktail classes, I always stress that if you can follow a cookie recipe, you can make cocktails! Mixology is the liquid element of the culinary arts so everyday kitchen appliances are commonly used, especially for homemade ingredients. Still, for properly executing cocktails, these are some essential tools to have in your home bar:
Paring knife and cutting board – Keep a designated bar set for cutting garnishes or halving lemons and limes for juicing when entertaining at home, or on a picnic.
Citrus press –This handheld device is essential for easily squeezing fresh juice for a cocktail. To use it, slice the fruit in half, place the cut-half down (where the holes are) then squeeze it directly over the mixing glass.
Jiggers – These measure liquid in fractions of ounces. The most commonly found jiggers are metal and look like two cones connected back to back, with one being larger (usually twice the size) of the smaller one. Cocktail recipes call for varying amounts so it’s helpful to have a few sizes such as ½ : 1 ounce, ¾ : 1 ½ ounces; and 1:2 ounces.
Muddler – These long pestles are used to squash fruit, vegetables and herbs in the bottom of the mixing glass, thereby releasing their juices, oils and flavors.
Bar spoon – This long-stemmed spoon measures about ¼ ounce, and is used stirred drinks (ones that are all spirit such as the Martini, Manhattan, Negroni, etc).
Mixing glass – This is a wide-mouthed glass in which cocktails are stirred. They can be a simple pint glass or a decorative, ornate vessel.
Cocktail shaker –During Prohibition, a myriad of “disguised” cocktail shakers were shaped to look like art so as not to rouse suspicion that alcohol may be consumed on premises. Antique shakers are interesting conversation starters, and wonderful gifts for weddings and birthdays. Professionally or practically speaking, though, the Boston shaker is a great choice. This is comprised of a pint-sized mixing glass, which can also be used on its own for stirred drinks, or in conjunction with the slightly larger tin cup for shaken drinks.
Strainers – there are 2 main kinds of cocktail strainers: The Hawthorne strainer is used in conjunction with the metal part of the Boston shaker. It has a coil around the perimeter, and holds back ice and other particles when straining into the cocktail glass. The Julep strainer is slightly cupped, round, and dotted with holes through which liquid flows. Usually used for straining stirred drinks from a mixing glass, it gets its name from when people used them to hold back crushed ice while sipping Mint Juleps.
Zester – These are mainly useful for garnishes, which are visual, aromatic and flavorful drink enhancements.
Ice Scoop – Even for home parties, this useful tool is easier to use than prongs or spoons, and more sanitary than – ick – your hands.