One would think that all one needs for mixing cocktails is a couple of bottles and a shaker. One would be wrong. Here’s the definitive list of bartending instruments. But you still need the bottles...

bar spoon

Most bartenders favor bar spoon with a 5 ml bowl, a long spiraled metal handle, and either a flat or weighted back end. The spiral and large back end are useful for building layered drinks (such as floating 4oz of chilled Champagne on top of an icy cold shot of vodka in a Champagne flute).

Simply place the lip of the bottle against the spoon and pour slowly down the length into the glass.

The weighted back end of the spoon can also be used for light muddling.

double strainers

European bartenders commonly double strain their drinks
by pouring from the shaker or mixing glass through the
julep or hawthorn strainer into a fine strainer or tea strainer before allowing the drink to land in the glass.

Hawthorn strainer

The strainer with the wire coil around it is commonly used when straining a shaken drink from the metal portion of the Boston shaker. (Note: If you are using a Boston shaker, always strain from the metal side of the shaker as it is less prone to dripping.)

Julep strainer

This is the strainer that looks like a soup ladle designed by a Dadaist sculptor. The julep strainer is used to strain stirred drinks from the mixing glass.


“Eyeing” or “counting” the measure for a drink is not always the best way to produce a quality creation. Some recipes require accuracy and that’s where a measure comes in.

In the US, the standard device for measuring ingredients is a jigger or shot glass, which is gauged to 1.5 fluid ounces or approximately 44 ml.

Where the metric system is standard, metal measures such as the Bonzer brand from the UK are considered an industry standard. Produced in a number of sizes, the most common to appear behind the bar are the 50 ml and the 60 ml. The underside is ideal for measuring 10 ml.


A sharp knife is essential for cutting garnishes. Remember, a knife will not stay sharp for long since the acid from the citrus fruit eats away at the edge of the blade. You can slow this deterioration by rinsing or at least wiping the blade immediately after each use.

Want more precision in your garnish cut? Try using a Canelle knife: perfect for cutting thin strips of peel.


Heavy metal two-part squeezers are available in most cooking shops these days and are ideal for instantly squeezing lemon halves.

If you cannot find one or prefer a juicer that will fit oranges as well, a handheld citrus reamer is an excellent tool.

mixing glass

A mixing glass should have a total capacity of at least a liter, as you need space for ice, liquid, and for stirring. A mixing glass can have straight or sloped sides, but it must have a notched pouring lip so that drinks can be accurately drained into glasses after mixing. The proper strainer to use with a mixing glass is a julep strainer, however a hawthorne strainer will work as well.


The ideal muddler is made from unfinished or oil finished wood. Lacquered or painted muddlers tend to chip, leaving bits of lacquer in drinks. Food-safe plastic muddlers are also showing up on the market, but do not have the classic look or feel of wood.


A safe alternative to a knife, a vegetable peeler reliably produces excellent twists with a minimum of white pith on the back.

Pith has a sharper flavor than peel and is undesirable in drinks.


You will find one (or more likely, many) of these mixing devices behind every bar in the world. (Ironically, every store Shaker
sells consumers the three-piece shakers you find in every home. These are part of a longstanding plot to make bartenders look like magicians as the 3-piece shakers freeze shut and are near impossible for even a seasoned professional to use.)

The best way to separate the metal and glass halves after shaking a Boston shaker is by placing two fingers of one hand above and below the point where glass and metal meet, then tapping that point with the heel of the other hand once or twice.

Beware of Boston shakers that include a rubber seal. It is unnecessary and other bartenders will make fun of you.

The glass half of the Boston Shaker doubles as a mixing glass for stirring drinks.

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