Being your own bartender is fun and can be the secret to a great party or get together with friends. But mixologists are experts for a reason—not only do they have to know cocktail recipes, but they also need to be familiar with bar equipment and how to use it. Here's a primer.
The most ubiquitous piece of bar equipment is no doubt the corkscrew, used to pry the cork out of bottles of wine. One of the most popular and efficient models is often referred to as a sommelier's knife or a waiter's friend, which uses a small lever arm to wedge the cork out of the bottle. There are also winged models with two separate levers, automatic models and some truly unusual designs. Make sure your corkscrew has a small knife to cut off foil tops.
Almost as important, bottle openers are necessary to remove beer-bottle tops that don't twist off. Combination corkscrew and bottle openers are handy, versatile tools.
Shakers are used to thoroughly mix all kinds of cocktails. There are generally two kinds of shakers: those with their own lids, and open metal cups usually referred to as tins. With a stand-alone shaker, you add all the ingredients, put the cap on and shake thoroughly. With a tin, you need to place a pint glass, bottom up, into the tin, and tap to make sure you have a tight seal before shaking.
Pour spouts fit into the mouths of liquor and mixer bottles for a slow, smooth pour every time. Most pro bartenders use these and count the duration of a pour to estimate the amount of liquor.
Jiggers are small measuring cups specifically designed for making drinks. Most are in sizes that match the amounts frequently called for in cocktail recipes. These measuring devices are essential for making precision drinks.
To make any kind of frozen drink or to crush ice, a blender is a definite necessity. Pros tend to prefer high-end blenders specifically designed to crush ice and blend heavy fruit purées, but you really don't need a fancy blender to make frozen daiquiris and margaritas at home.
Here are a few other things you might need and want for your bar:
- A sharp knife and cutting board for fruit and garnishes
- Salt and sugar for decorating the rims of glasses
- Spoons and swizzle sticks for mixing drinks too delicate for the shaker
- Your favorite recipes