The KegWorks Guide to Bar Tools

Are you thinking of outfitting your home bar but can’t tell a Hawthorne Strainer from a Boston Shaker? We’ve got you covered. The KegWorks Guide to Bar Tools lays out the basics you need to know to get started! And be sure to check out the KegWorks Guide to Cocktail Ingredients for the low down on bitters, syrups, shrubs, and sodas.

The KegWorks Guide to Bar Tools

cobbler shakerCocktail Shakers

What Are They?

A fundamental piece of bar equipment that enables the thorough blending of cocktails that contain citrus juice, egg whites, or cream. To use, simply add drink ingredients and ice (usually) to the shaker, seal it closed, and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker frosts. The agitation chills and dilutes the drink, and introduces air, creating a frothy texture.

There Are Three Basic Types of Shakers:

3 pieces: shaking tin, cap & built-in strainer

2 pieces: shaking tin & pint glass or cheater tin

2 pieces: shaking tin & cap

Shaker Pro Tip

If there are eggs whites in a drink recipe, a good “dry shake” (i.e., without ice) ensures a frothier head. Once the egg white is well frothed, add ice and shake again to chill the drink.

mixing glassMixing Glasses

What Are They?

The transparent container in which you build a stirred cocktail. Professional-grade mixing glasses generally have a straight sides, a heavy base, and a spout for pouring.

Mixing glasses come in a variety of intricate designs, but all that cut glass is more aesthetics than function. If you love beautiful barware, more power to you–but know that an inexpensive pint glass will get the job done, too.

Whatever glass you use, be sure it’s large enough to accommodate the volume of your ingredients plus ice, with room leftover.

bar spoonBar Spoons

What Are They?

Specialty spoons used for layering and stirring cocktails. They are typically long handled, made from stainless steel so as not to affect the flavor of a drink, and have good, balanced weight to them. The shaft is often coiled, which facilitates stirring. Most bartenders prefer a tight over a loose coil.

Shaken or Stirred?

Bar spoons are indispensable to the stirred cocktail. But how do you know when to stir as oppose to shake? A good rule of thumb is, if a cocktail is made entirely of spirits, like a Martini, stir it with ice to retain the drink’s clarity and silky texture. Cocktails made with carbonated ingredients that are built in the glass, like a Mojito, may also be lightly stirred once or twice.

Bar Spoon Pro Tip

A “bar spoon” is sometimes used as a unit of measurement in cocktail recipes. It is approximately equivalent to one teaspoon.

hawthorne strainerStrainers

What Are They?

Metal bartending tools that filter unwanted debris (herb leaves, ice, fruit bits, pulp) from a finished cocktail. Cobbler Shakers come with built-in strainers, but if you are using a Boston or French Shaker or making a stirred cocktail, having some sort of strainer is a necessity.

There Are Three Basic Types of Strainers:

A metal disc with a wire coil for filtering. It fits over the mouth of most mixing vessels and is the standard at most bars. The coil can be removed and cleaned easily.

A large, perforated metal spoon that you invert of the mouth of a mixing glass or shaking tin. It predates the Hawthorne Strainer.

Fine Mesh
Use it as a second filter to make an extra smooth cocktails. It removes the tiny bits of ice, pulp, and other organic matter the other strainers miss.

Strainer Pro Tip

If you’re only going to pick up one strainer, make it a Hawthorne. It’s the most adaptable.

cocktail jiggerCocktail Jiggers

What Are They?

The hourglass-shaped measuring apparatuses you see bartenders using at your favorite cocktail joint. Basic models are inexpensive and can usually be had for just a couple of bucks. Higher-end models are weightier, more elegantly shaped, and come in decorative finishes like gold and copper. Standard jiggers come in ½, ¾, 1, 1 ½ and 2 ounce sizes.

Precision Is Key

Craft cocktail recipes are calibrated to deliver a delicate balance of flavors, so accurate measurements are important.

When using a jigger, be sure you know what size you have in hand and always fill it to the very top to ensure you’re not shortchanging your pour.


What Are They?

Wooden, bamboo, stone, or metal batons with blunt ends used to lightly bruise and/or crush herbs, fruit, and sugar against the sides of a mixing glass or tin. Muddlers should be long enough to reach the bottom of even tall vessels.

Muddle With Caution

Muddling releases fresh ingredients’ flavors and aromas, but it is important not to over-muddle. Doing so not only damages delicate ingredients like mint and basil from a visual standpoint, it can also release bitter compounds detract from a drink’s overall flavor.

When Do I Use Them?

Muddling mint is a crucial step in a making minted drinks like Mojitos and Mint Juleps. All manners of Smashes rely on muddlers, too.

citrus JuicerCitrus Juicers

What Are They?

Any number of tools designed to more efficiently squeeze fresh juice from lemons, lemons, oranges, and grapefruits. One popular style of juicer is the enameled hand squeezer. It is relatively inexpensive and manages to extract far more juice from a single piece of fruit than bare hands alone.

Entertain Often?

If you frequently find yourself whipping up pitchers of margaritas for throngs of thirsty guests, you might consider a professional, lever-style juicer. These countertop models get out every last drop of citrus and are less stressful on joints than hand squeezers.

Juicer Pro Tip

You can typically squeeze 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice from one lemon.








Kegworks guide to bar tools

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