Being your own bartender is not only fun for you, but can be the secret to a great party or get-together with friends. However, for those who aren't trained mixologists, there are a lot of questions that can be left unanswered, particularly when it comes to bar equipment and its uses. There are many different bar-tending tools that all have different and specific uses.
The most ubiquitous piece of bar equipment is no doubt the corkscrew, which is used to pry the cork out of bottles of wine. These devices come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. One of the most popular and efficient 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 that your corkscrew has a small knife to help you cut off foil tops.
Almost as important, bottle openers are necessary to remove the tops from non-twist-off bottles of beer. Combination corkscrew/bottle openers are common and effective.
Usually made of metal, 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, tap to make sure you have a tight seal, and then proceed to shake.
These spouts fit into the mouths of liquor and mixer bottles and slow the pour stream to a tidy, manageable level for a smooth pour every time. Most professional bartenders use pour spouts and count the duration of a pour to estimate how much liquor they are using.
Jiggers are small measuring cups specifically designed for making drinks. Most are in sizes that match the amounts frequently called for in recipes. For those making precision drinks, these measuring devices are essential.
To make any kind of frozen drink or to produce crushed ice, a blender is a definite necessity. Professionals tend to prefer high-end blenders specifically designed to crush ice and blend heavy fruit purees, but any mixing device can help the home bartender make his favorite frozen treats.
Other things you might need and want for your bar include • A sharp knife and cutting board for fruit and garnishes • Salt and sugar for decorating glasses • Spoons and swizzle sticks for mixing drinks too delicate for the shaker • Your favorite recipes