I realized, after much research (read: a lot of drinking at a lot of different bars), that most bars have a very similar basic setup when it comes to tools and mixing vessels. I’m not sure why this took me so long to realize, as most cocktails have lots of techniques and ingredients in common. Maybe it was the alcohol consumption during my studying that caused me the trouble. Then again, it worked in college. Maybe it didn’t…I think I may have just solved one of the great puzzles of my life…
Many brainwaves later, I realized that there is no reason an aspiring home bartender shouldn’t have a basic set of drink creation tools, either. Cocktails – along with things like music and sex – are far too important to be left to the professionals.
You most likely have some stuff from some Christmas (maybe Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or whatever else) gift from your great-aunt who figured early 20’s you probably liked Martinis because you now had your very first job and apartment. That set probably has a shaker, a strainer, maybe a weird-looking knife thing and a bottle opener, and probably has a stand for all of the stuff. In general, these things contain everything you’ll need to get started at a basic level. However, many of them are kind of ugly-looking and don’t make a very nice centerpiece for your home bar.
I’ve found a couple that look pretty nice.
When I first became interested in making drinks at home (beyond mixing some nasty whiskey with Coke, or throwing a bunch of stuff together in a pitcher and flavoring it with fruit, anyway) I realized after much trial and error that the only way to make consistently good drinks was to measure.
I’m not sure if it was because I’d watch bartenders at restaurants pour seemingly perfect drinks without measuring, or if I just never really knew what my favorite drink (The Manhattan, duh), was really supposed to taste like. I’ve since learned that there is debate around how to truly make one of those, and that the serious bartenders who mix drinks at places dedicated to making solid cocktails actually do measure nearly everything.
So, on to my point of this post: not all measuring devices are created equally. I’ve tried a few, and figured I’d give you my take on them. They are all available through Amazon because they can get it to you for cheaper and faster than I ever could.
My personal favorite: The OXO Steel Double Jigger
It’s durable, has a nice grip, the subdivisions are well marked and look like they should hold up well over time, even after many times of being run through the dishwasher. I’ve had one of these for a long time, and haven’t needed to replace it yet. I generally rinse it out right after I use it so it never really sees any soap, but I have no doubt this one would hold up even if you washed it with soap each time.