Cocktail Tools: One through Five

August 8, 2020. Last updated August 9, 2020.

I love giving my friends and family cocktail tools and ingredients as gifts. I have done this so many times that by now I’m sure I’m the butt of a running joke between them. What can I say. I love making and sharing cocktails.

Occasionally, someone I make a cocktail for is curious about getting started with cocktail making themselves. For these (admittedly rare) instances, I’d like to have a public post to point them to. So, my plan is to list the tools I recommend for cocktail making, in order, starting with the top five. The items listed first will be fundamental, while tool number twenty-whatever will not be particularly critical. Not sure how many of these posts I’ll do, but hopefully at least a couple.

This list will be opinionated. Of course, anyone can cobble together standard tools from around the kitchen to put together a cocktail. But that sort of scrappiness isn’t the focus of this list. Goals here include aesthetics, perfectionism, and overall zen.

For these first five items, I’ve focused on the tools for stirred drinks. Five tools is enough for making either stirred drinks or shaken drinks, but not both. My rationale for starting with stirred drinks rather than shaken is that stirred drinks are slightly more accessible. They don’t require fresh citrus, and also the two most popular cocktails are probably the Old Fashioned and the Negroni, both of which are stirred.

Without further ado, items one through five:

  1. Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails. This is a book about Death & Co bar in New York City. The first half is several different sections about how to make cocktails, and the second half is a collection of (mostly) simple, modern recipes. It’s number one on this list because tools are useless if you don’t know how to use them, and this book in particular gives a well-rounded intro to cocktail making, and additionally has a very reliable section on classic and vintage recipes.
  2. Hawthorne strainer (Cocktail Kingdom’s). Hawthorne strainers are the best type of strainer for rapidly getting all but the smallest pieces of ice out of liquids. I like this one in particular because it has lots of densely-packed springs which catch tiny pieces of ice.
  3. Jigger (OXO’s). Until you get one of these, you’ll be doing lots of measuring with a 1/4 cup (2 oz), a tablespoon (1/2 oz), and a teaspoon (1/6 oz). While this is a good skill to learn for whenever you find yourself mixing drinks at Airbnbs, you’ll want a proper jigger at home.
  4. Bar spoon (Mixologists’). Length is the main thing to look for, so you can experiment holding it at different lengths from the mixing vessel to find a position that’s comfortable and efficient.
  5. Mixing glass (Mixologists’). I like that this one has a thick bottom for more thermal mass in case you freeze it. It also is durable, is cheap at the time of this post, and has a cool pattern that increases grip.

Cheers 🥃