Whether bartending is your full-time job or just a hobby, it’s important to have all the right tools to make the magic happen. The art of mixology has been around for centuries, and it is a practice learned and perfected in different ways all around the globe.
Mixology requires people to be detail-oriented, precise, and personable. It’s a business that relies on quality and hospitality. Mixology is not for the faint of heart, either. To be a great bartender, you have to memorize lots of different drinks and recipes and know them on the spot. Despite the work and energy that go into it, though, bartending is one of the most fun and rewarding jobs or hobbies you could have.
Having the proper tools can help you on your mixology journey. Whether this is a career or not, you need the right tools at your disposal. If you are looking to jumpstart your bartending experience, here are 30 of the essential tools you need to make it happen.
If bartending and mixology is a hobby for you, a home bar may be the way to go. Start with the basics and work up from there. You don’t need all the bells and whistles to make a good cocktail, but you do need some basics.
What better way to learn bartending than in the comfort of your own home? Here are 15 home bar tools you need to make some darn good drinks.
1. Cocktail Shaker
No bar is complete without a cocktail shaker, even a home bar. Shaken, not stirred, please.
2. Cocktail Strainer
If your shaker doesn’t automatically come with a strainer, you will definitely want to purchase one. Strainers help get all the leftover seeds, pulp, and ice cubes out of your finished cocktail. This helps with the overall texture and flavor of your drink.
Even for a home bar, jiggers are essential for measuring out the different liquors and syrups for your cocktails. There is no judgment here if you’d rather measure with your heart, but jiggers are great if you like to be precise.
If you prefer frozen or blended drinks, you need to have a blender behind the bar. We highly recommend keeping one of these around when you feel creative.
5. Cutting Boards
Here at Ohza, we love adding the extra cherry on top… literally. If aesthetic is your thing, garnishes are the way to go. Cutting boards are the perfect tool to do that. Keep a separate cutting board at your home bar, so you’re not scrambling for one when the time comes.
Going along with the cutting boards, it’s a good idea to keep some small knives around specifically for cutting up fruit for garnish.
6. Ice Bucket
This is an essential when you are hosting. Lukewarm cocktails aren’t the most appetizing.
7. Shot Glasses
No party is complete without shots. Keep some shot glasses ready to go for the party people in your life.
Sometimes your cocktail just needs a little extra zest. A zester is a great way to get some extra natural flavor into your drink.
If you are looking to decorate the rim of your glass, fruit zest is a fun way to do that. No matter how you use it, it’s wise to keep a zester on hand for whatever may come up.
9. Bar Spoon
Even though we love shaken cocktails, it’s okay to show stirred cocktails some love too. Having a bar spoon can help disperse all the flavors throughout the glass. Plus, it makes you look pretty professional when you use it.
10. Glass Racks
If you want to make your home bar look professional-grade, invest in some glass racks to hang your glasses from. This is a great way to free up some bar space for entertaining in your own home.
Since home bars are often slower-paced and a little more intimate, you can take your time when making garnishes. A peeler will come in handy for making lemon or lime twists.
12. Bar Tongs
If you have a small ice bucket ready on your home bar counter, you need some bar tongs. Bar tongs are also helpful for small garnishes and help you stay clean and organized when hosting.
Funnels are a great tool to have if you dabble in making your own flavored syrups or like to decant your spirits. Funnels help keep the liquids from spilling all over your bar counter.
14. Can Opener
Some cocktails require ingredients that come in cans. Options like coconut cream, canned fruit, and other canned items require the use of a can opener.
Thankfully, you should already have one in your kitchen, but if not, definitely invest in one.
15. Citrus Squeezer
There are few things better than fresh-squeezed juice for your cocktails. Citrus squeezers are the most convenient way to get fresh-squeezed juice.
If bartending is more than a hobby for you, you may need some more in-depth equipment and tools. If this is something that you want to pursue, it’s important to have everything you could need to get the ball rolling. Here’s how to do it and do it right.
1. Bar Mats
If bartending is your full-time profession, you probably want to keep your workstation neat and orderly. One of the best ways to do this is with a bar mat.
These mats help protect the surface you are serving drinks on and provide drainage for any spilled drinks. It’s a great way to keep your area spick and span.
2. Bottle Opener
While you probably will spend the majority of your time shaking cocktails and pouring from taps, some people may just want an old-fashioned bottle of beer or cider. Keep a bottle opener around for this specific clientele, no matter what they are drinking.
When opening corked wine bottles, a corkscrew will save you some headaches. Professional corkscrews slide right into the cork and help extract the cork without damaging it.
A lighter is a good thing to keep on hand behind the bar, even if you’re not a smoker. Lighters are great to have if you want to light up shooters or smoke fruit zest for a smoky cocktail.
A citrus squeezer will work just fine for a home bar, but if you are in an immersive full-time bartending position and need to whip out fruit juice drinks in a jiffy, invest in an electric juicer. You’ll be able to serve up drinks much faster.
8. Cocktail Rail
A cocktail rail is the metal rack that holds the frequently used liquors and mixers used by bartenders behind the bar. One of these will help your bar space feel more organized.
9. Speed Pourers
The spouts found on the end of bottles in bars are called speed pourers. They regulate the flow of liquid coming out and help you eyeball your free poured measurements. They are a lot quicker and more convenient than jiggers in a professional bar environment.
10. Ice Maker
Most cocktails are over ice, are shaken with ice, or are blended with ice. In a commercial bar setting, you need to have ice.
Having an ice maker installed behind your bar will guarantee that there will always be fresh ice ready to go for your clientele. This is a must-have upgrade that will save you time and give you the freedom to spend time at the bar with your regulars instead of running back to the kitchen for fresh ice.
11. Soda Gun
A soda gun can stream any soda you have loaded and ready to go. It can really help broaden your drink variety without having to crack open can after can.
12. Trash Bin
It seems self-explanatory, but trash bins are essential to keep behind the bar. You need a designated place away from customers to store unused fruit, fruit peels, straw wrappers, and anything else overlooked. It helps keep your station clean and sanitary, which is crucial to an industry like bartending.
13. Glass Rimmer
If someone is ordering a fancier cocktail, they might want something around the rim of their glass. A glass rimmer can help save you time and energy.
Glass rimmers have multiple small, shallow plates that allow you to have your rimming ingredients ready to go when you need them. It saves you time, so you don’t have to get out a plate to rim a glass every time.
14. Liquor Shelves
Most bars have their liquors elevated on shelves, almost like they are on display. They are sometimes lit up with LED lights so customers can see exactly what is being served. Utilizing these shelves is another easy way to keep your bar organized and clean.
15. Glass Washer
Don’t feel like scrubbing each glass down at the end of the day? We wouldn’t either. An electric glasswasher can help cut down on your cleaning time at the end of the day. This can help you clean your glasses quicker and more efficiently.
A good muddler is a crucial tool to keep around as a professional bartender. Muddlers bring out the aromatics of spices and herbs that you might be adding to your cocktails. It helps infuse these flavors into the drink, which helps provide a deeper flavor experience for the person drinking it.
If you love coming up with your own cocktail concoctions, you’re going to need some serious tools to get the job done. The tools listed above will help you level up your bartending game so that you can impress all your guests.