Top 7 Gifts for Every Cocktail Lover!
There’s an old saying that you need the right tools for the job. And when it comes to crafting beautiful cocktails in the comfort of your own home, we couldn’t agree more! While the world of barware can seem a little daunting, we’re here to help guide you through all the fundamentals. These few essential tools are all you’ll need to get started (maybe save the centrifuge and smoking gun for later).
Have a cocktail lover on your list? Here are seven essential bar tools that will make amazing gifts to help them get their home bar setup rockin’.
Cocktail Essentials #1: Shakers
If you’re looking to build your home bar kit, a solid shaker is a great starting point. Generally, cocktails can be separated into three different groups: shaken, stirred, and built in the glass. Many classic cocktails call for the drink to be shaken, either with or without ice. Shaking can help with building flavour, chilling the drink, diluting ingredients to a desired level, aerating the drink, and much more. Shaking also helps to add a little swagger to your drink for good measure. (We’ll watch for your signature shake on TikTok!)
Also known as the 3-piece cocktail shaker, this is a good starting point for most beginners. The cobbler has a built-in straner and a cap to cover the strainer while shaking. What’s great about this shaker is there is no need for a Hawthorne strainer as it has one built in. It’s also easy to use since you don’t need to perfect your slap technique to separate the pieces the same way you do with a Boston shaker. You can also easily shake it with one hand for a little flair or if you need to multitask.
This is the shaker of choice for most professional bartenders. With a top and bottom piece, it offers a lot of durability and simplicity. Compared to the cobbler, this shaker is able to hold a larger volume, meaning you can make more than one drink at a time. It’s easy to clean and maintain, and the simple design means this shaker is very durable.
This two-piece shaker sits between the Cobbler and the Boston. With a curved design, it’s aesthetically pleasing to look at, but its two pieces mean it’s simple to use. This is a great choice for cocktail enthusiasts who like the Boston shaker, but are looking for something a little sleeker and sexier while sitting on the bar cart.
Cocktail Essentials #2: Mixing Glasses
While James Bond might prefer his martinis shaken, many drinks (including the classic martini) are stirred. This means a mixing glass is a must-have for any home bar! A mixing glass is essentially a large beaker that lets you add ingredients and ice. Using a mixing glass, you can stir to combine flavours, chill cocktails, and provide dilution. Stirred cocktails are often those that require a less forceful combination of ingredients. As most cocktail enthusiasts know, a properly stirred drink is truly a work of art, reaching the ideal levels of both dilution and temperature.
While many people might start out thinking that they can just use a pint glass or Tupperware container for stirring, a proper mixing glass doesn’t just give you the room to build a cocktail properly—it also looks insanely classy! As an added bonus, most mixing glasses also include a spout to make pouring and transferring your drink to a glass easier than any Tupperware could.
Cocktail Essentials #3: Cocktail Strainers
The most common style of strainer, the Hawthorne strainer is designed to fit snugly over any mixing glass or shaker to hold back the ice while you pour your drink. Appearances can vary but most Hawthorne strainers will include either prongs or a lip to secure to the glass, along with a coil to help ensure a snug fit.
Julep and Mesh Strainers
Another option for your strainer, the Julep strainer is a large slotted spoon that is most commonly used when straining from a mixing glass. A fine mesh strainer is also very handy to have. Used when double straining, it ensures that even small ice shards don’t make it into your drink. Many people may already have a fine mesh strainer at home for cooking, but a dedicated cocktail strainer can be an amazing gift for any cocktail enthusiast to make sure that food flavours don’t transfer over into their drinks.
Cocktail Essentials #4: Muddlers
An essential tool for cocktails, a muddler is designed to smash and mix ingredients into a drink and is the best way to incorporate fresh fruit and herbs into your drink. Several famous cocktails require a muddler, such as the Mojito, Mint Julep, and Old Fashioned (when made using a sugar cube). Generally, you’ll find muddlers made from either wood or steel. While wood muddlers can be more durable, stainless-steel muddlers are often easier to clean. It comes down to the preference of you or the cocktail lover on your gift list!
Cocktail Essentials #5: Bar Spoons
When it comes to stirring a cocktail in a mixing glass, having a bar spoon is essential. Bar spoons come in a number of shapes, sizes, and colour finishes, so you have plenty of choice when shopping! Generally, bar spoons have a twisted stem design that helps you to grip the spoon between your fingers while stirring. Most bar spoons for home use are around 30cm in length, but you can also find longer options (up to 50cm) depending on how you like your spoons. You can also find trident-style spoons that have a prong on the end to help grab garnishes, or bar spoons with built-in muddlers on the end. Whatever your choice ends up being, it’s a must for any home bar!
Cocktail Essentials #6: Jiggers
Another essential bar tool, jiggers come in all shapes and sizes. A jigger is a measurement tool that allows you to accurately measure out the ingredients in your cocktail. They are often double-sided, having a large cup on one end and a smaller one on the other. Most bartenders prefer a long and slender Japanese-style jigger, which often has a 1 and 2 oz measurement on the respective sides and internal markings to show additional measurements.
The bell jigger is one of our favourites, and is a popular style that has a shallower but wider cup. This makes it easier to pour without spilling. Some bartenders also prefer having a multi-level jigger that is single-sided and that has multiple measurements in one large cup, making it quick and easy to use. Whatever your choice, the key to a great cocktail is getting the proportions correct. That’s where a good jigger can be your best friend!
Cocktail Essentials #7: Ice Molds
The final tool to make your cocktails extra special: a specialty ice mould. For certain drinks, a large ice cube or sphere can be preferable to several small cubes. This allows the ice to melt more slowly, keeping your drink cold but not diluting the cocktail. You can find ice molds in a number of shapes and sizes, but the most common are large square and sphere moulds, which will make more of an ice ball than an ice cube. If you want to get fancy, you can also play around with encapsulating garnishes in your large cubes for extra flair!
We hope this short list of bar tool essentials has been helpful in helping you get started! Alternately, if you know a cocktail lover, we hope this blog post gave you some gift ideas! If you’re just getting started, we highly recommend starting with the basics and adding as you go, or even consider purchasing a full barware set like those found on our website. At Fifth & Vermouth, we take pride in curating and selling high-quality barware products for both enthusiasts and professionals. Check out our huge range of products on our website and place an order today—just in time for the holiday and New Year seasons!