The Best Barware for Mixing Cocktails at Home
These are the essentials—from cocktail shaker to jigger to bar spoon—every mixologist needs. With these tools on hand, you can shake or stir up classic drinks and new cocktail creations from the comfort of your own home.
The neighborhood's hottest cocktail joint is … your house! Or it will be once you equip your home bar with our top tools for mixology. A small investment in this selection of carefully selected barware will set you up for countless happy hours, casual gatherings, cocktail soirées, and everything in between.
Cocktail shakers may look simple and straightforward enough, but it pays to choose carefully. The right shaker has a nice, tight seal so it doesn't leak, no matter how vigorously you brandish it. In addition to a watertight closure, though, that securely fastened lid also has to be easy to open so you can pour out your perfectly chilled martini or sidecar without a struggle. And for the times you want to be able to ask your guests (or yourself), "Shaken or stirred?" you'll need a mixing glass, bar spoon, and strainer that all work together in perfect harmony for a suavely stirred cocktail like those classics, the Manhattan and the old-fashioned.
Use a jigger to help you overcome the false notion that "more is better." This liquor measuring tool is what takes a cocktail from good to great due to perfect proportions. Don't be shy—jiggers aren't just for amateurs; the best mixologists in the world use these babies. Speaking of amateurs, those are the people who use bottled citrus juices, and we already know that you're better than that! There is simply no substitute for freshly squeezed citrus, so grab our favorite handheld citrus juicer and make the commitment to buy whole limes, lemons, and oranges to have on hand for cocktail hour. A vegetable peeler is your other must-have citrus accessory; you'll use it to create fabulous, fragrant twists of zest to garnish cocktails like the Negroni.
Lastly but not least, don't forget a simple, elegant ice bucket, which will look beautiful on the bar (far more beautiful than a plastic bag or an ice cube tray!) and insulate the ice from melting.
A basic stainless steel shaker will get the job done. When shopping for a cocktail shaker, check online reviews to find one whose top twists off easily and doesn't leak. When you mix a cocktail in a shaker, it gets chilled and aerated, and slightly watered down by the ice. And watering down isn't a bad thing! Cocktail recipes that are formulated to be shaken, like our Habanero Hibscus Sour or Rosemary Gimlet, rely on this watering down in order to achieve a perfectly balanced cocktail.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Collection Cocktail Shaker, $34, macys.com.
Most cocktails that aren't made in a shaker are stirred in a mixing glass instead. This is a gentler approach to mixing and chilling a cocktail that results in a silky texture, as the drink is not aerated or watered down as much.
Shop Now: W&P Mixing Glass, $29.95, willliams-sonoma.com.
This long-handled spoon with a small bowl is just right for stirring cocktails in a mixing glass.
Shop Now: Open Kitchen by Williams Sonoma Cocktail Spoon, $5.99, williams-sonoma.com.
A handheld juicer is just right for making one or two drinks at a time and should be able to handle various sizes of limes, lemons, and oranges.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Collection Citrus Press $32, macys.com.
Do not underestimate the importance of measuring! More booze isn't necessarily better. Careful measuring is what makes the difference between an okay cocktail and a great one. A traditional jigger looks like two metal shot glasses with the bottoms glued together. The standard size jigger measures 1.5 ounces on the larger side and 0.75 ounce on the smaller side—although some jiggers measure 1 ounce and 0.5 ounce, so check before you buy.
Shop Now: OXO Stainless-Steel Double-Sided Jigger, $9.95, williams-sonoma.com.
For elegance in cocktail making, add an ice bucket to your barware collection. It looks so much better on the bar than an ice-cube tray or plastic bag of ice.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Collection Ice Bucket, $67, macys.com.
Instead of a jigger, you can use a two-ounce graduated measuring cup instead. These are available in clear plastic or stainless steel—choose whichever one you think looks better on your bar.
Shop Now: OXO Good Grips Mini Angled Measuring Cup, $4.95, amazon.com.
A nice, sharp vegetable peeler is the best way to get the perfect strip of orange or lemon zest for your garnish.
Shop Now: Kuhn Rikon Vegetable Peeler, $7.95, walmart.com.