Yes, it’s true. You don’t need expensive tools to make that cocktail. And, I have to admit, I’ve totally used my finger to stir a Manhattan and then strain it into a glass because everything was in the dishwasher. The quality of the ingredients you put into your drink should matter first (also, a little know how as to what you are doing wouldn’t hurt either). But after that, a handful of solid instruments will help you along that much further. Here’s some of my favorite tools that I have at home and use in my home bar. If you’re looking for liquor/bitters/syrups then head over to the Liquor Shelf.

Bar Spoons

I have at least 5 of these. They come in handy if you’re stirring your drinks and they’re cheap enough that if one gets mangled in the garbage disposal you won’t care.

Julep Strainer

Again, these guys get the job done and they’re cheap. I prefer these over the Hawthorne Strainer but that is just preference.


I have these guys in multiple sizes from 1/2 ounce to 1 to even a 2 ounce (I make a lot of Manhattans). You can stock up on the 1-1/2 plus 1 ounce size since you’ll be using that a lot for most cocktail recipes.

Mixing Glass

If you’re stirring and straining out a cocktail, you need one of these guys. Heavy bottomed, tempered glass is best since you want your glass sturdy and not likely to shatter on you. Also, it will fit with the metal half of a Boston Shaker too.

Boston Shakers

Speaking of a Boston Shaker, you’ll need these for those cocktails you need to shake. If you’re scared of shattering your glass bottom while trying to break the seal after shaking (I’ve done this), just get two metal halves instead.


If you have herbs or fruit going into your cocktails, you’re going to need a muddler. Yes, you could also use the end of a wooden mixing spoon, but you’ll look the fool if you’re doing that in front of people. Trust me.

Cocktail Picks (Basic)

You can’t garnish a drink if you don’t have something to stick that cherry on. While there are the fancier variety out there (see below), a basic bamboo pick is a classic choice.


Coupe Glass

One may notice I use a lot of coupe glasses on here. They’re lovely to look at and hold a nicely proportioned drink. Picking just one is hard, but start with a basic style, in multiples, since you might break a couple.

Highball Glasses

For long drinks, iced tea and water if you want.

Double Rocks Glass

Personal taste here, but I love a large rocks glass, something my nose can get into. You can have single and double rocks glasses too if space permits in your bar.

Tiki Mugs

If you like a tropical drink, it’s always fun to have it in one of these. Just be careful, collecting them can become addictive.


Yarai Mixing Glass

It’s pretty and sturdy and you see them everywhere lately. I have one. Do I also use regular mixing glasses? Yes. This has a spout though.

Speed Pours

One thing I hate is getting liquor all over the side of the bottle. It’s sticky and drips on the counter and makes a mess. Speed pours help cut down on this, and also make for precise pouring into jiggers.

Ice Spheres

Giant ice spheres are another item you see at bars more now. If chipping your own ice sphere sounds daunting, you can make your own in the freezer with these molds. Downside is that you only make two at a time. Unless you buy more molds.

Ice Pick

Speaking of making your own handcrafted ice spheres (or cubes), you will need one of these guys.


You can get them in tons of colors. Also, nice for long drinks.


You might be scratching your head, but if you’re making infusions you’ll need something to strain all the bits out of your liquid. This helps a lot.

Funnel Set

From straining to bottling, you’ll want a couple sizes on hand.

Glass Bottles

You need something to store all your infusions in. And these look nice and fancy when you give them as gifts.

Tincture and Bitters Bottles

Again, these are great storage bottles for smaller experiments like tinctures and bitters. Also, they look professional when you give away a bottle of that giant batch of bitters you will never get through in a lifetime.

Novelty Cocktail Picks

I always keep around some fancy looking cocktail picks for more fun drinks or to enliven an unusually boring photo I’m working on.

Measured Shot Glass

This is Christopher’s preferred method of measuring out shots. If you’re not comfortable pouring into jiggers yet, this is a good starting point.