9 tools to upgrade your home bar

Bar tools are essential in order to prepare a quality cocktail. Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Krista Slater

Credit: Krista Slater

Bar tools are essential in order to prepare a quality cocktail. Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

One question we hear often is: How do I stock a home bar?

We are proponents of stocking your bar with a good version of what you and your friends like to drink, or finding a recipe that intrigues you and purchasing the bottles that it requires.

The more practical question is: What are the tools that I need in order to make great drinks at home?

With holiday entertaining upon us, we thought we would share with you the whats and whys of bar tools that will help you make fine drinks. (These tools also make great holiday gifts.) Here are our nine essential bar cart tools, listed in the order in which they are used to build a cocktail. These accessories can be found locally at Cook’s Warehouse and Decatur Package, or at cocktailkingdom.com.

Jiggers: There is no shame in measuring. In fact, for consistency, it is a requirement in our bars. A good jigger will be two-sided, with a 1-ounce/2-ounce configuration. A great one, like the Leopold by barware manufacturer Cocktail Kingdom, will have inner rings denoting 0.25 ounce, 0.50 ounce, 0.75 ounce, and 1.5 ounces.

Shakers: There are two types. The cobbler shaker has a built-in strainer in the lid. The more efficient Boston shaker consists of two vessels that fit together and create a tight seal when tapped together. Find a set where both parts are metal (instead of one glass, one metal), as that conducts cold better. The Boston shaker partners perfectly with a Hawthorne strainer (see below).

Mixing glass: Used for stirred drinks, these can range from a simple beer pint glass to an elaborately etched crystal container with a convex bottom that helps guide your spoon as it spins. We love the Rona plain mixing glass. Greg Best of Atlanta’s Ticonderoga was a consultant on the design.

Bar spoon: We like one with tight spirals, or no spirals at all, such as the new Leopold bar spoon from Cocktail Kingdom. It doesn’t hurt your fingers as you spin the chilling ice in the glass.

Muddler: Used for pressing herbs, citrus and sugars. A wooden muddler is best, because it is gentler on the ingredients (bruised herbs can turn bitter).

Strainers: There are two types. A julep strainer resembles a large concave spoon with holes; it holds back the ice in the mixing glass as you pour the finished cocktail. A Hawthorne strainer is fitted with a spring around its perimeter; it not only catches the ice, but also keeps particles of fruit, herbs or other solids from falling into the shaken cocktail.

Y-shaped vegetable peeler: This inexpensive tool is great for pulling off long strips of citrus peel for garnishes.

Paring knife: Used for cutting — mostly citrus.

Wine bottle opener: Someone always wants a glass of wine at a cocktail party. We prefer the style often called a “waiter’s wine key.” For the most ease in opening, seek out one with a serrated blade, and a Teflon-coated worm (the curled screw that goes in the cork). You can find quality openers for $20 or less.

The Slaters are beverage industry veterans and the proprietors of the Expat and the Lark Winespace in Athens.

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