Bar Essentials

Bar Tools

Cocktail Shaker

Using a shaker is simple: fill it halfway with ice, add the cocktail ingredients, and shake vigorously for 5-15 seconds. As for which drinks need to be shaken, common protocol dictates that you should shake any cocktail made with fruit juice, egg whites, or dairy. The point is to mix in ice crystals and tiny air bubbles for a light, frothy texture. Shakers come in a few different styles:


Boston Shaker Tin Set

The most popular cocktail shaker among professional and home-bartenders alike. A two-piece system consisting of a large tin tumbler and a tin mixing glass. The mixing glass fits snugly into the tumbler for secure shaking, and can be used separately for muddling or stirring a drink. A separate strainer is required, unless one is skilled enough to crack the seal and pour the drink through the slivered opening.


Cobbler Shaker


Mixing Glass

You can technically stir a drink in a glass of any shape or size, but a specialty mixing glasses is a must-have tool for skilled bartenders. Their thick glass walls offer better insulation to keep the ingredients colder, and the wide base helps to keep the ice intact for minimal dilution.Their beaker-like spout makes for a perfect pour.

Hawthorne Strainer

This is the most common type of strainer, used for shaken cocktails. The tabs rest on the rim of the mixing glass or shaker, and it has a handle for holding. The spring has enough tension to block out practically all ice and fruit pulp as the liquid sluices through. Of course, you can always use this strainer for stirred cocktails as well. Its versatility makes it a bartending staple.

Julep Strainer

This is the type of strainer used for stirred cocktails. It’s shaped like a large, round, shallow spoon with small holes that allow liquid to pass through. Ice particles are no concern, since the drink is stirred. Insert it into the top of the mixing glass or shaker, and strain away.



This tool is the bartender’s version of a shotglass. A two-sided measuring cup comprised of two stainless steel cones stuck together in an hourglass shape, one side measures one jigger - AKA one shot - AKA 1.5 fluid ounces - of liquor, while the other side typically measures 1 oz. Jiggers come in a variety of other sizes, such as 1 oz. x 2 oz. and .75 oz. x .5 oz.

Bar Spoon

A long metal spoon used to mix and stir cocktails. Long enough to reach to the bottom of a shaker or oversized mixing glass, with a teaspoon-sized scoop for measuring ingredients. Bar spoons traditionally have twisted handles so a deft hand can twirl it while stirring.


A wooden tool used like a pestle to grind and crush cocktail ingredients, such as fruit or herbs, to release their flavor. A critical tool when making drinks like mojitos or old fashioneds.



A tool for extracting the juice from a fresh piece of citrus. When a recipe calls for juice, a juicer is required.


Similar to a kitchen zester, microplanes allow you to scrape the flavor-packed zest from the peel of citrus fruit for use as a cocktail ingredient, as well as an additional small blade to cut “twists” - long, thin strips of zest - for garnishing a drink.



A simple, round, glass tumbler with an 8-12 oz. capacity. Taller than a lowball glass, shorter than a Collins glass, it’s the “just right” size for serving a wide range of cocktails that require ice and a healthy volume of ingredients.



Taller and more slender than a highball glass, with a capacity between 10-14 oz. Originally devised for the Tom Collins and other similar drinks, it’s commonly used for specialty cocktails and soft drinks.


Rocks/Lowball/Old Fashioned

Shorter than the highball glass, this tumbler has a 6-10 oz. capacity and a base thick enough for a drink to be muddled inside. Used for serving spirits neat, on the rocks, or mixed, it’s sometimes referred to as an Old Fashioned glass due to the cocktail’s ubiquity.

Cocktail glass

The classic V-shaped glass, famous for holding martinis and other straight-up cocktails. The wide bowl allows for a dynamic presentation, and the stem allows you to hold it without your hand warming the contents. The proper volume is a modest 4.5 oz. (just enough to be slowly sipped before losing its chill).

Champagne Flute

The flute is a tall, slim stemmed glass. Its height helps visually highlight the bubbles of champagne, and its small diameter minimizes the carbonation lost at the surface.

Champagne Coupe

The coupe is a short, wide-bowled glass often associated with Marie Antoinette (and the champagne tower). It fell out of favor among champagne drinkers decades ago since its shallow bowl doesn’t preserve carbonation, but it has since been embraced by as a vessel for cocktails.  

Julep Cup

The traditional means of serving the classic mint julep cocktail, the julep cup is similar in size to a highball glass but is made from silver or pewter. It must be held delicately - there is no handle - so as not to disturb the obligatory layer of frost that forms around the outside as the metal reacts to the ice inside.


The only acceptable way to serve a Moscow Mule cocktail, or any variation thereof, is in a copper mug. As with the julep cup, the copper transmits the cold from the inside to the outside, creating a layer of condensation to refresh the hand as the drink refreshes the palate.


A petite, narrow glass used for pousse cafe, or layered drinks. It only holds 2-4 oz., so each ingredient must be measured carefully and poured according to its relative density to create the layered effect.


The margarita glass is a jumbo version of the old-school champagne coupe; it’s a broad, shallow bowl that sits atop a slender stem. The large diameter means more rim that can be salted and more volume that can be filled with margaritas, daiquiris, or other blended cocktails.