There are a large number of different tools, devices, gizmos, and bits of equipment that might be used in the process of mixing a great drink. While no attempt will be made here to list "all" of these, we will try to provide a comprehensive of a list as possible. This may require the listings of these tools to be broken out into several pages, but to start with we'll see how much we can accommodate on a single page.
We will "attempt" to stack rank these tools such that the higher up the list the tool is, the more important it might be considered. Care should be taken to understand that this stack ranking could be different depending on what type of bartender you are, and what your specific needs are.
Each tool will (eventually) be briefly described here, each will also be a link to a page with more information about that tool, details about it, and hopefully recommendations and advice.
These are the tools which should be considered the most important to a properly prepared bartender. Depending on what types of drinks you make, some of these tools may rarely be used.
- A "jigger" is a key tool for making sure the cocktails you make are properly measured and come out consistently the same. Without getting into the whole "jigger versus freepour" debate, I would hope that everyone should realize that if you are just putting your initial toolset together, you probably don't have the training/experience to freepour accurately.
- Boston Shaker
- A "Boston Shaker" is a two-part shaker, sometimes a pint glass, with a larger metal mixing tin, or a small tin and a larger tin. Slightly complicated for the beginner to use, but typically preferred by the professional for mixing drinks.
- Mixing Glass
- Not all cocktails should be shaken. When you want to stir a drink, you use a "Mixing Glass". This can be the pint glass, or mixing tin from a "Boston Shaker" set, or it can be a specific vessel for this purpose.
- Cobbler Shaker
- A "Cobbler Shaker" is a three part cocktail shaker. It consists of a larger vessel for holding the ingredients, a strainer top which fits snuggly on top of that, and a lid which seals the strainer so you can shake a drink.
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Used to hold back the ice and larger debris which may be in a drink after mixing it. For a Boston Shaker set, it is typically used in conjunction with the larger mixing tin.
- Bar Spoon
- Not all cocktails should be shaken. When you need to stir a drink, you need a long handled spoon or rod which will allow you to do this properly. Typically used in conjunction with a Mixing Glass.
- Julep Strainer
- Slightly different from the Hawthorne Strainer, a Julep strainer is a slightly concave perforated disk with a handle. It doesn't have any spring or other mechanism for "adjusting" its size to the vessel it is used with. The spring of a Hawthorne Strainer often doesn't quite fit the pint glass or small mixing tin of a Boston Shaker set, so this is typically where a Julep Strainer is used. It was once extremely hard to find, but now is more common place.
- A slightly long handled device that is designed for lightly muddling ingredients into a drink. Typically used to "tamp" on mint in order to release its essential oils.
- Extremely useful for cutting citrus, or creating garnishes. While a simple paring knife is all that is typically needed, there are various fancier knives which some bartenders gravitate toward.
- Cutting Board
- A proper work-surface for cutting on. Size should be large enough to comfortably cut up an orange, but not so large as it is cumbersome for your work-area.
- Any device designed to extract the juices from citrus fruit. There are a wide variety of options, some better than others.
- Fine Strainer
- When mixing a drink with citrus pulp, mint fragments, or other smaller debris which won't be easily held back by a Hawthorne or Julep strainer, bartenders will often Double Strain by pouring the drink through a fine mesh strainer to further remove unwanted debris.
- Ice Cube Tray
- Having properly sized ice is an important component of a well made drink. Using ice trays which produce cubes at least 1"x1" can make all the difference.
- Vegetable Peeler
- While a knife can easily be used for cutting citrus garnish, a vegetable peeler can often make this task a lot easier.
These are the tools which may be less important, or provide a function which can easily be achieved either by one of the tools above, or by simply being ingenious with the various things you might already have on hand.
- Channel Knife
- Spice Rasp/Grinder
- Citrus Zester
- Pour Spouts
- Bottle Opener
- Lewis Bag
- Ice Tub
- Ice Scoop
This are the tools which are either more fanciful, or aren't really necessary for mixing a drink.
- Cork Screw
- Can Opener
- Champagne Sabre
- Swizzle Stick
- Punch Bowl
- Ice Pick
- Ice Tapper
- Ice Mallet
- Bottle Opener
Here are some starting places to find some of the tools above. The sites listed here will be focused primarily on providing bar tools, and not just a "general store" that also sells bar tools.