Cocktail making tools on a table

Bar Tools 101: An Easy Guide To Essential Cocktail-Making Equipment

Whether you’re making cocktails at home or working in a fancy cocktail bar, you’re going to need the right tools for the job. Here is an easy guide to the essential cocktail-making equipment and tools you need to know to make most cocktails.

Cocktail Shaker

A cocktail Shaker

A cocktail shaker is a device used for mixing cocktail ingredients by shaking. Ingredients such as spirits, mixers, ice, and fruits are combined in the shaker, which is then sealed and shaken vigorously to chill and mix the contents. The most common types of cocktail shakers are the Boston shaker, which consists of a tin and a mixing glass that fits into it, and the Cobbler shaker, which is a single tin with a tight-fitting lid and a built-in strainer.

Mixing Glass

A cocktail mixing glass

A mixing glass is a thick, sturdy glass that is typically used for cocktails that are stirred rather than shaken, such as a Martini or a Manhattan. Ingredients and ice are placed in the glass and stirred using a long bar spoon, and then the contents are strained into a cocktail glass. This method chills and gently mixes the drink without overly diluting it. Additionally, a mixing glass can be used together with a mixing tin to form a Boston shaker, where the glass is used for mixing and then sealed with the tin for shaking.

Mixing Beaker

A cocktail mixing beaker

Similar to a mixing glass, a mixing beaker is a large, usually glass vessel used for stirring cocktails. It’s typically wider and more robust than a mixing glass, allowing for easier stirring and less temperature transfer from the bartender’s hand. Additionally, a mixing beaker often features a spout for easy pouring.

Hawthorne Strainer

A hawthorne Strainer

A Hawthorne strainer is a metal bar tool used to strain liquids poured out of a shaker or mixing glass. It has a flat, disc-like shape with a spring coil around the perimeter, which helps to catch ice and other solid ingredients, allowing only the liquid to pass through when pouring the drink into a glass.

Julep Strainer

A Julep Strainer

A Julep strainer is a perforated, bowl-shaped strainer with a handle. It’s typically used in conjunction with a mixing glass. The bartender places it over the top of the glass, bowl-side down, to strain cocktails as they are poured into the serving glass, holding back ice and larger ingredients.

Fine Mesh Strainer

A Fine mesh Strainer

A fine mesh strainer is used together with either a Hawthorne strainer or a Julep strainer to ‘double strain’ a drink. It removes small solid ingredients, such as herbs, fruit pulp, and ice shards. The fine mesh strainer is held over the glass while the cocktail is poured through it, ensuring a smoother, cleaner drink.

Bar Spoon

A Bar Spoon

A bar spoon is a long, spiraled spoon used for stirring drinks. Its length allows it to reach the bottom of tall mixing glasses and shakers, and the spiral handle helps in achieving a smooth stirring motion. A bar spoon can also be used to measure small amounts of ingredients and to make layered drinks by turning it over and slowly pouring an ingredient over the back of the spoon so that the ingredient floats rather than mix with the rest of the drink.


A Muddler

A muddler is a tool used to mash/muddle ingredients in the bottom of a glass or shaker. It’s essential for cocktails that require fresh fruit or herbs to be integrated into the drink, like Mojitos and Old Fashioneds, releasing their flavors.


A Jigger Measuring tool

A jigger is a measuring tool used to accurately measure liquid ingredients for cocktails. It’s typically hourglass-shaped, with two different measuring cups on each end, ensuring precise measurements for balanced cocktails.

Pour Spout

A Pour Spout

A pour spout is a tapered metal or plastic nozzle that fits into the top of a liquor bottle, allowing for controlled and consistent pouring. It’s essential for quick, accurate pouring in a busy bar setting and helps prevent spills and over-pouring.

Lemon/Lime Squeezer

A Lemon/Lime Squeezer

This is a handheld tool designed to extract juice from lemons, limes, and other small citrus fruits. It’s used in cocktail making to quickly and efficiently add fresh citrus juice to drinks, enhancing flavor and acidity.