Lesson 01 – Difficulty: Easy
Beginning a life as a cocktail enthusiast and home bartender requires you to have a minimal yet essential set of bar tools to make craft cocktails effectively. A simple Home Bartender Starter Kit helps to jump start your way through your first experimentation with cocktails. The essential bar tools for your cocktails creations includes:
- Boston Shaker & Strainer
- Bar Spoon
- Lemon Squeeze / Juicer
- Japanese Double Jigger
- Julep Strainer
Only The Essential Bar Tools
You can also include a knife, cutting board, ice tray, citrus peeler, and a Lewis Bag but I don’t consider those essential bar tools for a new cocktail enthusiast. If you take your cocktail making experiences to a friends house you’ll almost always encounter a knife and cutting board along with some ice (or some bags of ice at the store). The focus here is just your essential bar tools, those that are probably not available “on the go.”
We will go into further detail with each tool as our future lessons progress, but the essential bar tool value is worth underscoring further:
The Boston Shaker & Strainer
There is no doubt the Boston Shaker is one of the most valuable tools in your essential bar tools arsenal as it “gets the job done” in terms of making your cocktail recipe a reality. We offer a Weighted Boston Shaker Kit which does offer the true essential shaking needs and that comes as part of the Home Bartender Starter Kit. The shaker kit includes the strainer, shaker tin and a tempered pint glass (with the option to upgrade to a secondary tin instead of glass).
Your pint glass should be tempered to avoid cracking or breaking with rapid temperature changes. The ones we provide in our essential bar tools kit is tempered. Or, you can opt for an 18 oz shaker tin (bottom) to chill more efficiently.
The Bar Spoon
A bar spoon seems like a simple addition to your kit, right? Couldn’t you simply use a table spoon from the drawer? Part of the look of a home bartender is feeling the part and the bar spoon gives you the appropriate feeling. Yet, that simple bar spoon does offer its own level of value. First, it’s long enough to reach down into your mixing glass or shaker tin to get to the bottom. Without a long spoon your fingers can touch the precious liquid. Nobody wants a drink that’s been made with a bartenders hands floating in it!
The bar spoon offers up a few other benefits when it comes to efficient stirring and we’ll cover that in a future lesson. For now, rest assured a bar spoon is indeed an essential bar tool for your bartender kit.
Citrus Squeeze / Juicer
The citrus squeeze comes in a variety of designs. For our Home Bartender Starter Kit, we opt for something sturdy but not too expensive. The citrus squeeze is an item you can upgrade later when you really understand why you need the bar tool at all. I opt for the Chef’n FreshForce juicer because it’s powerful, easy and made of high quality components.
The Citrus Squeeze is high on the list of that one tool you need when you’re making cocktails. Not everyone has a citrus squeeze; showing up to make cocktails at a friends house without one can be sad. And yes, the citrus squeeze can squeeze both your lemons and your limes along with smaller oranges.
Japanese Double Jigger
I love a good Japanese Double Jigger and the one we carry at AwesomeDrinks fits almost all the needs of the home bartender! The Japanese Jigger measures more accurately than the standard bartender jigger. The Japanese Double Jigger also measures five unique measures: 2 ounces, 1.5 ounces, 1 ounce, 0.75 ounces, and 0.5 ounces. Most of all, a Japanese Double Jigger means you often only need one jigger to pack into your kit when you have to host a party.
A muddler comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The muddler we put in our Bartender Starter Kit is light and easy without a lot of flair or personality. Much like the Citrus Squeeze, you can upgrade your muddler once you’ve found the true use for the bar tool. However, the muddler is probably the tool that you’ll use least in your bartender tool. The muddler is most valued for lovers of cocktail recipes like the mojito, julep, whiskey smashes or other cocktails that require herbs to be muddled.
Outside of the muddler, your julep strainer may be the least valuable tool in your essential bartender arsenal. The julep strainer will showcase its use in more classic cocktail recipes. The julep strainer is used with your mixing glass to hold back ice in a stirred cocktail such as the vodka or gin martini, Martinez or other classic cocktail recipe. As a result, you’ll save spring damage on your strainer that you use with your Boston Shaker.
Move On To Lesson 02: The Japanese Double Jigger.