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Cocktail Tools & Techniques

Cocktail-making is not just a craft, it’s an art. And every artist needs their tools… 

Your go-to drink-making kit should include at least the following:

  • Boston Shaker“: shaker set that consists of a mixing glass and a tin. You’re welcome to use the shaker whatever way you want but here’s what I like to do: first add the liquids into the mixing glass first (nice visual whilst the guest is waiting), then add ice in the tin (after having added the liquids in the mixing glass, so it won’t melt whilst you’re prepping), close it and shake it! In addition to shaking a drink, you can also stir or build it: 

  • Jigger: basically like a two-in-one measuring cup. In Europe, “one shot” will normally equal 25ml and the “double shot” side will be 50ml. In the US the “one shot” side will be 1 oz. and the “double” will be 2 oz. (If you’re curious 1 oz is just over 29ml, you know… everything is bigger in Merica!)
  • Strainers: First we’ve got the Hawthorne strainer, which is the one you will hold over the top of your Boston Shaker tin when pouring out a drink. It will keep the ice and biggest chunks of whatever you’ve used in the tin. If you’ve muddled finer things, ie berries, or simply want to keep any kind of bits out of your final drink, you can use a mesh strainer in addition to the Hawthorne strainer. This is referred to as “double-straining”.
  • Citrus Juicer: if you wondered, the “fleshy” side of the fruit goes towards the holes-side. Trust me, I’ve tried the other way and it just goes everywhere!
  • Bar Spoon: this is a multi-purpose tool. The spoon side is great for measuring liquids (approx. 2.5ml), and if you get lucky and get a spoon with a rounded end/tip, it’s great for mixing drinks too, such as this classic martini
  • Muddler: used to… muddle things! When muddling citrus fruits, try to squeeze out the juice and not mash the fruit to pulp as that will release the unpleasant tart/sour taste from the skin rather than the juice from the flesh. 
  • Small chopping board and serrated knife
  • Spice grater (for garnishing drinks with sprinkles of cinnamon, nutmeg…

Other useful bits for the bar:

  • Re-usable toothpicks, aka cocktail garnish skewers
  • Re-usable straws – ideally 3 sizes: short for tumbler-sized glasses, regular for long drinks and regular-wide for smoothies and thick drinks such as pina coladas 
  • Coasters
  • Cocktail napkins (I love em’ black)
  • Margarita salt dispenser
  • Can opener (for juice cans in the Caribbean)
  • Beer bottle opener
  • Wine bottle opener 
  • Re-usable “corks” to seal wine bottles and special sparkling wine sealers/stoppers
  • Wine stopper pump kit (available from brands like Le Creuset): this manually operated pumping device takes the oxygen out of the wine bottle and thus vacuum seals it. As the oxygen won’t react with the wine any longer, it will last longer.

Cocktail Ingredients & Garnishes 

No bar is complete without also having the following:
  •  Basket of fresh citrus fruits, like limes, lemons, oranges and grapefruits
  • Syrups & Cordials: gomme syrup (aka sugar syrup aka gum syrup), grenadine, lime cordial…
  • Brown sugar (for mojito’s and the likes)
  • Margarita Salt
  • Liquids: HP, Tabasco, Worcestershire Sauce, honey, vanilla essence
  • Dry Spices: whole cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Martini garnish: onions, olives
  • Bloody Mary garnish: celery, parsley, cherry tomatoes
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Salt & Pepper grinders
  • Herbs: fresh mint, but also rosemary, basil, lavender…

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