Raising the bar – essentials for smooth cocktail making

Written by Clair Minto

Written by Clair Minto

So, you’ve stocked the bar with liquor, all of your glassware is gleaming, and ready to go but what else do you need to make your cocktails stand out and to look like a professional behind the bar? 

First things first, a cocktail shaker. There are 3 main types to consider. 

  • Cobbler – a three piece shaker with a base, strainer and lid (which can also double as a measure) These types of shakers are versatile and easy to use and can be found easily. 
  • Boston – 2 pieces, with a shaker tin and a pint-sized glass that fits in the top. This model is great because it has a large volume for mixing more than one drink at a time, but getting the seal right can be tricky, not to mention the inconvenience if the glass part breaks. A variation of the Boston is the tin on tin shaker, which has the same 2 parts but both made of metal, this helps to keep the cocktail cold whilst shaking and eliminates the risk of broken glass in your espresso martini! 
  • French/Parisian – A simple 2 piece shaker that comes in lots of styles, it looks great but has no extra advantages. 

Next, let’s look at Strainers, the cobbler shaker above has its own built in strainer but whilst it will stop large pieces of ice, its not always sufficient for cocktails with fruit pulp. Here are the other types you may want to consider: 

  • Hawthorne – this is probably the strainer primarily used in bars and is really easy to use. This flat metal tool has a spring that fits into a glass or shaker to filter out all the fruit, pips, and ice from your drink. Another advantage of these strainers is that you can remove the spring and add it to your shaker to aerate drinks that have egg white – making them extra frothy! 
  • Julep – essentially just a perforated piece of metal with a handle, not the best option but will work if that’s all you have to hand. 
  • Fine mesh – best for double straining cocktails, once you’ve used your Hawthorne or julep strainer, this fine sieve will remove any last particles of ice or pulp. Not ideal to be used alone but adds an extra velvety smoothness to your drinks. 

A bar spoon is a terrific addition for cocktails that need to be stirred not shaken, and for measuring ingredients easily. Again, there are some variations in style, all have the twisted handle design which can help when adding ingredients like soda into an already mixed drink without splashing or wastage. 

  • American style bar spoons can be distinguished by their red plastic cap on the end, the spoon holds 5ml of liquid. 
  • European bar spoons have a flat disk on the end, perfect for muddling sugar, cracking ice or layering shots or drinks. This style measures out 2.5ml of liquid 
  • Japanese bar spoons have a weighted drop- shaped end making them the most ergonomic and elegant style. These are the easiest to use and also measure out 2.5ml of liquid. 

A ‘jigger’ or measure will keep all of your beautiful cocktails tasting the same, regardless who makes them (we all know that one stew with the heavy hand!) 

  • Single – A single or one-sided jigger has a single bowl to measure spirits. It can look like a simple shot glass or a more advanced measuring cup with different levels. More common in a home bar set up. 
  • Double – A double or two-sided jigger has two bowls to measure liquids. It is shaped like an hourglass and is usually made of stainless steel. This is the kind you see in most bars. The two bowls are of different sizes, for example, 1oz and 2oz.  

Some other items to consider: 

  • A couple of cocktail books for inspiration and obscure requests! 
  • A muddler for the all-important mojito as well as lots of other recipes. 
  • A channel knife, the most practical way to get those citrus garnishes exactly right. 

So, once you have your bar set up, set up the interior, and do some cocktail training, a great activity for a Friday afternoon when you don’t have guests on board! 


Also read

Get your hard-copy now!

Your advert in The Islander Magazine?

Get your hard-copy now!

Your advert in The Islander Magazine?

and receive your invitation to our events