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Getting Started: Essential Gadgets for the Home Bar

Even though you may not be bartending all the time, having the right tools for mixing and serving drinks can help make all your parties a hit.

Essential hardware


Properly measuring the ingredients for your cocktails ensures a balanced taste. Most jiggers (or measuring glasses) have a half ounce measure on one side and a two ounce measure on the other.


The Boston shaker (with pint glass) is the shaker of choice for professional bartenders. A standard cocktail shaker works just as well for your home bar, plus, it looks stylish.

Hawthorne Strainer

You'll typically use a Hawthorne strainer with a Boston shaker. It keeps ice in the shaker while allowing fruit pulp to pass through.

Cutting Board and Knife

Prepare garnishes before you start serving, but keep a small cutting board and knife handy if you start to run out.

Bar Spoon

For layering or stirring. It's also handy for pulling cherries and olives from jars.


For mashing fruit or mint leaves into the bottom of a glass.


If you plan on serving wine - a winged corkscrew makes opening bottles a breeze.

Ice Bucket

Bartending requires mountains of ice, no matter how small the party. The right bucket keeps ice from melting and is especially handy if you're bartending outside.

Not-so essential hardware


If you already have a blender, make sure it's able to crush ice.

Bottle Stoppers

Especially useful for maintaining the bouquet in wine.

Julep Strainer

A smaller strainer that's handy if you're straining into narrower glasses.


Try chilling your glassware in the freezer, or by filling with ice cubes, before use. Always hold glassware by the base or stem to avoid leaving finger marks.

Essential glassware

Martini Glass

Also known as a cocktail glass, its chic neck lets your guests hold the glass without warming the drink.

Old Fashioned Glass or Rocks Glass

A short glass with a heavy base for drinks served on ice. It's the quintessential tumbler for enjoying whisky.

Highball Glass

Similar to a rocks glass, but taller. It's typically used for drinks that have larger amounts of mixer, such as a Scotch & Soda. A highball glass is also known as a collins glass.

Wine Glass

Grasping the long stem keeps chilled wines from getting warm. The bowl shape of the glass converges the wine's aromas or the "bouquet." Red wine glasses typically have a larger bowl than white wine glasses.

Not-so essential glassware

Champagne Flute

The narrow shape helps retain champagne's carbonation.


Usually used for serving brandy, the bulbous shape helps hold aroma.

Margarita Glass

The best way to serve Margaritas or other frozen drinks. The wide rim is perfect for salting.

Pint Glass

Improves beer's drinkability and is useful for serving low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks. A must-have if you're using a Boston shaker.

Shot Glass

Thick-walled glass for serving shots or spirits.

Discount stores will carry most of these essentials