Making cocktails can feel like a dark art. But, with the right equipment, even beginners can make delicious cocktails and easily host dinner parties that really impress. What’s more, you don’t need to get an expensive specialist set to start testing the water. But, there is some essential cocktail making equipment that anyone starting out will need.
Which cocktail making equipment do you need?
1/ Cocktail shaker
A cocktail shaker is a simple, yet essential piece of kit, that is usually used to combine the majority of your cocktail’s ingredients together. It’s widely considered the main mixing tool for great cocktails.
There are different types of shakers. And, whilst we don’t cover all the different shakers in this article, the two most common you’ll encounter are the Boston shaker and Cobbler shaker. Their main differences are:
|Cobbler Shaker||Boston Shaker|
|Three-piece construction||Two-piece construction|
|Built-in strainer||Separate strainer required|
|More likely to experience leaks or freezing shut||Less likely to experience freezing shut or leaks|
|A common choice for beginners||A common choice for professionals or those making cocktails frequently|
For beginners, we recommend the Cobbler shaker. Its built-in strainer makes serving up super-speedy, and it doesn’t need any special technique to use it. The Boston shaker is a great choice if you have more drinks to serve. With its simpler design, it’s quicker to clean between drinks, but can be a little trickier to avoid spillages.
2/ Cocktail strainer
Again, straining is essential to cocktail making. Strainers act as the first defense against ice, fruits, and other debris that enter the drink after shaking. You may have seen some bartenders using their shakers to avoid debris from escaping, but these sorts of techniques take practice. Beginners will almost always need a cocktail strainer. The main exception is if you choose a Manhattan shaker since that includes an inbuilt strainer.
A Jigger (yes, we love the name too) is something you really can’t do without. It’s the tool that bartenders use to measure ingredients. Whilst you can buy single jiggers (that is with one measuring cup) they’re usually double-sided – with a 25ml and 50ml measure (although they do come in different sizes too).
Whilst it might seem fun to ‘eyeball’ your alcohol quantities, in reality too much or little of your core ingredients can leave you in a sticky mess!
Non-essential cocktail making equipment
4/ Bar spoon
You might be tempted to whip out a standard spoon from your drawer, but bar spoons are a little different. They’re typically a long-handled metal tool, with a 2.5 ml spoon on one side and a small silver disk on the other.
Beginners will typically use these to stir/mix drinks, but most commonly they’re used for effective layering of cocktails. They can also be handy for times when you need to remove garnishes or make final adjustments to your drink for presentation (without getting your hands involved!).
A cocktail muddler looks a little like a pestle or club. When making cocktails, it’s typically used to crush and grind fresh ingredients such as herbs to release essential oils and aromas for your drink.
We’ve not included the muddler in the essential list because you can easily substitute this tool with your own pestle and mortar, a rolling pin, or simply by crushing your ingredients in a number of other ways. But, if you find yourself making more cocktails over time, it would definitely be worth investing in one.
6/ Fine mesh sieve
For a seriously smooth cocktail and the finish you would expect at a bar, you’ll need to many of your drinks. Whilst a strainer is perfect for holding back ice and any larger debris – a fine mesh sieve will really perfect your finished drink. The reason we’ve not included this in the essentials list, is simply because many households already have a fine sieve in the kitchen, and won’t need to go out and buy this separately.
7/ Citrus squeezer
Many cocktails include some form of citrus. If you end up squeezing by hand, not only does it look messy, but it can be a painful experience too! For cocktail making, citrus squeezers are usually handheld devices with two cups that sit inside one another, making the perfect holder for your fruit.
Frequently Asked Questions
You don’t formally need any special kit to make a cocktail since most cocktails can be made with what you find in your kitchen. However, if you intend to make cocktails properly (or more than once!) the very minimum you’ll need is:
- A cocktail shaker
- A strainer
- A jigger
If you intend to make cocktails professionally then you will also want to invest in the following tools:
- A fine mesh seive
- A bar spoon
- A muddler
- A bottle opener
- A paring knife
- A citrus squeezer
- Pour spouts
The proper term for someone who professionally mixes cocktails is a mixologist. This differs from bartenders who don’t have the same passion for crafting cocktails in the same way.