Now more than ever, the art of mixing a quality cocktail can seem like a daunting task. Today’s hippest bars are concocting drinks made with everything from foie gras to liquid nitrogen—and serving up hefty price tags to match. All the more reason why you should start building your home bar today.
You can forgo an extensive mixology arsenal in favor a few high-quality tools, according to cocktail writer Sarah Probst. “I personally don’t think you need a lot of fancy stuff,” she told mental_floss. Probst has experience bartending at acclaimed bars in NYC and she’s written about spirits and cocktails for Refinery29, Brooklyn Magazine and Bloomberg Businessweek. Here are the tools and gadgets she recommends to anyone looking to make bar-quality cocktails at home.
1. KORIKO COCKTAIL TINS
Even if you don’t know the first thing about mixology, shaking around a cocktail tin is the first step to feeling like a professional. Probst touts Koriko as her favorite brand of cocktail tins (otherwise known as shakers), claiming it has a tighter seal than most other brands. Spilling sugary booze all over the place because your shaker didn’t seal properly is a quick way to end a party. Buy it at Amazon.
2. OXO JIGGER
You can memorize the recipes for dozens of classic cocktails, but that knowledge is useless without a way to portion out your components. Jiggers are small, two-ended cups specifically designed for measuring drinks, and when it comes to quality cocktails, precision is key. “Some of the fancier ones, while they look prettier, aren’t the most accurate,” said Probst. She prefers the jigger from OXO that measures up to one ounce on one side and one and a half ounces on the other. The high level of precision guarantees a well-balanced cocktail. Buy at Amazon.
3. YARAI BITTERS BOTTLE
Bitters are the liquid extractions of seeds, roots, flowers, herbs, leaves, and bark used to bring a greater depth of flavor to cocktails. The extracts are highly concentrated and therefore should only be introduced in small, controlled doses. In order to do this, you first need to find the right bitters bottle. A bottle specially made for bitters will disburse the perfect amount each time, compared to generic bottles which can be less reliable. Probst recommends the Japanese brand Yarai for a product that’s sleek and functional. Buy at Chubo Knives.
For serious entertainers, an at-home carbonator can be a lifesaver. SodaStreams are typically used to make soft drinks, but Probst says they can also be handy when making cocktails in large batches. You can use them to carbonate punch, or make your own tonic water for gin and tonics. Buy at Amazon.
5. BAR SPOONS
Not only does using a clunky spoon to stir your cocktails look unprofessional, it can also feel awkward. Having a few long and slim bar spoons on hand makes it easy to stir drinks no matter what type of glass you're using. Probst recommends bar spoons that have a tiny cocktail fork on the opposite end. The tool will look nice, and can also be used to fish out any olives chilling at the bottom of your drink. Buy at Amazon.
6. HAMILTON BEACH JUICER
“Freshly squeezed juices are super important when you want to make a really delicious cocktail,” said Probst. She’s had experience using a Hamiltion Beach stand juicer as a bartender, and recommends them for anyone looking to splurge on a quality juicer for their home. Buy at Amazon.
7. HAND JUICER
For a cheaper alternative, a basic hand juicer is what Probst uses in her own home. In addition to being essential to making fresh cocktails, they’re also useful to have in the kitchen when cooking meals at home. Buy at Amazon.
8. TOVOLO ICE MOLD
So you have all the right gear, your bar is fully stocked and you’ve finally mastered the art of mixing the perfect drink. The finishing detail you need to raise your cocktails to the professional league is some seriously classy ice cubes. Probst says Tovolo ice molds are often regarded as the best in the industry. Their molds come in the form of rigid cubes, elegant rectangles, or if you really want to get fancy, spheres. Once you have the power to make ice that looks like that at home, you may never want to go out. Buy at Amazon.