Want to be the world’s greatest mixologist? Or just fancy a martini, shaken not stirred? You’ll need the right equipment, as well as some good ingredients.
For instance, no cocktail bar can exist without ice. First you have to make the ice. Your fridge ice maker might suffice, but then again, some people prefer round ice cubes, or you might want mini pineapples, so grab the ice cube tray of your choice.
You’ll also want an ice crusher for some cocktails. These range from the simple nutcracker-style crusher, fine if you’re just making cocktails for yourself and your partner, to heavy duty electronic crushers which any professional bar tender would approve.
Strainers to get those little bits of ice out of a cocktail once you’ve shaken it, and to remove small pieces of citrus or herbs, are also important. You’ll probably want more than one, from coarse to fine, as different cocktails have different requirements.
Hawthorne strainers are particularly useful in a cocktail bar. They have a spring running round the edge which is specially designed to catch small pieces of ice. A Hawthorne strainer will fit on your shaker, so you can serve and strain at the same time. On the other hand a julep strainer fits on top of the mixing glass.
A cocktail bar without a cocktail shaker is hardly worthy of the name. You can get a two-piece or three-piece shaker; the three-piece has a strainer built into it which makes your job a little easier. Of course you could, in extremis, use a jam jar or a Tupperware box, but really, that’s not the right way to make a cocktail and you know it.
You’ll also want a mixing glass for cocktails that are stirred (assuming you don’t agree with James Bond that your Martini should be shaken). Most bartenders choose heavy glass – Yarai is the industry standard – and put the glass in the fridge before using it. But double-walled metal shakers are also available, and will survive your dishwasher a lot longer. You could use an ordinary glass, but that has two disadvantages; it won’t be as thick, so won’t make the cocktail quite as cold, and it doesn’t have a pouring spout so you won’t be able to serve quite as neatly.
And there’s more. Setting up a home mixology department, you’ll need shot glasses, a jigger for measuring, a long stirring spoon, a knife and chopping board for lemon slices, a lemon squeezer or juicer. (Many bar tenders like ‘Mexican elbows’, hinged hand-held squeezers that come in lime green, lemon yellow, and orange, so you always pick the right one for the job.) A swivel peeler to make twists, a metal funnel, and some metal straws (because plastic is so yesterday).
It all adds up and when you see how expensive it can be, that $15 Long Island Ice Tea at the local bar starts to look incredibly good value! But of course, if you look on Vipon, you can cut the price of your cocktails by grabbing your equipment at a discount.