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A good cocktail kit is so much more than just a shaker, and any bartender worth their margarita salt will tell you the difference strainers, muddlers, jiggers, and stirrers can make in the quality of the finished beverage. Extras like pour spouts and bottle openers don’t hurt either.
What Are the Best Home Cocktail Kits?
We look for cocktail kits that include all necessary tools, which are made of high quality materials and work the way they’re supposed to (harder to find than you might think).
What’s in a Basic Cocktail Kit?
For newbie mixologists a little confused by all these tools, here are some brief descriptions of bar kit essentials including how they’re used and what to look for.
Shaker: There are three basic types of cocktail shakers: Boston, Cobbler, and Parisian. A Boston shaker, comprised of two mixing tins which fit together, tends to be the type favored by professional bartenders because they are simple, less likely to cause leaks, and are better at keeping beverages cool. Beginners, however, may prefer a Cobbler or Parisian style, which are sealed with a lid and built-in strainer. This is because they are easier to fit together and don’t require an extra strainer.
Jigger: A jigger is the name for the double-ended measuring tool bartenders use to portion the correct amount of liquor and mixers in a cocktail. Generally, a standard jigger will contain 1.5 ounces on the large side and three quarters of an ounce on the small.
Strainer: Cobbler and Parisian shakers come with a strainer built in, while a Boston shaker always requires an external Hawthorne strainer. These strainers are all more or less the same in design, with a perforated disc and spring which fits over the shaker and holds back all herbs, fruits, and solids (and ice!) while pouring.
Muddler: Often called a “mojito muddler” for the most popular cocktail that requires the tool, a muddler is useful for flavoring a wide variety of cocktails with fresh fruit and herbs. This long, heavy-bottomed tool is used to mash fresh ingredients to release their juices and flavor the drink.
Stirrer: Essentially just a very long spoon, classic cocktail stirrers have a spiraled shaft which helps more evenly layer a beverage’s components.
Pour Spout: You may have noticed most bartenders don’t pour liquor straight from the bottle, but instead from a narrow nozzle which slows the flow of the liquid. Pour spouts aren’t strictly necessary for home bars, but they can be especially helpful if you plan to eyeball ingredient quantities without bothering with a jigger.
1. Premium Cocktail Bar Tools Set
Nothing throws off Tom Cruise-style cocktail shaking like feeling your martini leak from the edges of a poorly-secured shaker all over your hands. That’s why we love this kit, with its leak-proof Boston shaker and complete set of tools for measuring, muddling, and pouring.
This set includes a 28 and 18-ounce shaker, strainer, double-duty bar spoon and muddler, bottle opener, double jigger, and, for good measure, a pair of two-ounce shot glasses and six stainless steel pour spouts which the real pros will appreciate.
2. Elite 23-Piece Bartender Kit
The only problem with owning a complete set of bar tools is finding a way to store them all tidily in one place. This excellent set comes with an attractive bamboo stand, perfectly-sized to put the finishing touch on your home bar.
We also like that it includes all the tools a professional barkeep could want, including a standard 24-ounce Cobbler shaker, two-sided jigger, muddler, spiraled mixing spoon, strainer, and ice tongs. Additional accessories include a corkscrew, three liquor pourers, six pourer caps and two pourer brushes, two bottle stoppers, and a mini book of recipes. To top it all off, the set also comes with a carrying bag for the traveling bartender.
3. Mixology Bartender Kit
Pro and amateur mixologists alike note the premium quality and craftsmanship of this set of cocktail tools, which feel weighty and work beautifully. It also doesn’t hurt that the gleaming, high-quality stainless steel makes for a particularly sophisticated bar cart display.
The set includes a rust-proof, 20-ounce Parisian cocktail shaker, with a tapered lid for secure sealing, as well as jigger, muddler, mixing spoon, strainer, two pourers, ice tongs, and a double lever corkscrew, all of which fit neatly in the bamboo stand.
4. Copper 23-Piece Bartender Kit
We’re pretty taken with this set’s rose copper finish, which is different enough to make a statement without sacrificing elegance or quality. The tools are made of high quality, rust-proof stainless steel, and the shaker’s high-grade inner is formulated not to leech chemicals or affect beverage’s flavor.
In addition to the 24-ounce shaker, the kit includes a muddler, mixing spoon, jigger, strainer, corkscrew, three pourers, two brushes, and six caps for liquor bottles, as well as tongs and two bottle stoppers. Store it all in the bamboo stand or velvet pouch, and play around with cocktail formulas in the included recipe booklet.