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The Home Bar Toolkit


Bartending is like pretty much everything else in life. You get better results when you use the right tools. Here’s the rundown on gadgetry for the well-equipped home bar:


  • Jigger: A jigger lets you measure cocktail ingredients accurately for a consistently balanced taste. Most jiggers (or measuring glasses) have a half ounce measure on one side and a two ounce measure on the other.
  • Shaker: The Boston shaker (with pint glass) is the shaker of choice for professional bartenders. A standard cocktail shaker works just as well for your home bar. Plus it looks cool.
  • Hawthorne Strainer: You usually use a Hawthorne strainer with a Boston shaker. It keeps ice in the shaker while allowing fruit pulp to pass through.
  • Cutting Board and Knife: You’ll want to prepare your garnishes and have them set to go before the party. But a cutting board and knife come in handy if you start to run out.
  • Bar Spoon: Have one ready for layering, stirring, and pulling cherries and olives from jars.
  • Muddler: Use it for mashing fruit or mint leaves into the bottom of a glass.
  • Corkscrew: If you serve a lot of wine, a winged corkscrew makes it easy to get those bottles open.
  • Ice Bucket: No matter how small the party, you’ll need LOTS of ice. A good ice bucket keeps ice from melting. And it’s indispensible if you’re bartending outside.


  • Blender: Make sure it can crush ice!
  • Bottle Stoppers: Especially useful for maintaining the bouquet in wine
  • Julep Strainer: This smaller strainer is ideal for straining into narrow glasses.


Bartender’s Tip: Try chilling your glassware in the freezer, or by filling with ice cubes, before use. Always hold glassware by the base or stem to avoid leaving finger marks.


  • Martini, or Cocktail Glass: Martini glasses have a chic, slender stem that lets guests hold their glasses in an elegant movie-star manner, without warming the drink.
  • Old Fashioned Glass or Rocks Glass: Short and sturdy with a heavy base, it’s the quintessential tumbler for whiskey and drinks served on ice.
  • Highball, or Collins Glass: Taller than a rocks glass, the highball is used for drinks with larger amounts of mixer, such as a Scotch and Soda.
  • Wine Glass: The long stem on a wine glass keeps chilled wines from getting warm, and the bowl shape of the glass concentrates the wine’s flavors or “bouquet.” Red wine glasses typically have a larger bowl than white wine glasses.


  • Champagne Flute: The narrow shape helps keep the carbonation in your bubbly.
  • Snifter: Usually used for serving brandy, the bulbous shape concentrates the aroma.
  • Pint Glass: A classic for beer that’s also useful for serving low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks. A must-have if you’re using a Boston shaker.
  • Shot Glass: A thick-walled glass for serving shots or spirits.




Remember, any cocktail is best enjoyed in moderation, and only by those of legal drinking age.