Every bar in the land, home or professional will need some basic tools just for it to function at all. Where would you be if you had a fridge full of bottled beers and no bottle opener, and teeth are not the answer. There are just some things you cannot do without in any bar.
There are plenty of home bar kits available, some with just the basic tools needed and some that will have tools you have not even heard of, and probably have no idea of how to use.
Tool Kit Or Not Tool Kit
That is the question.
It obviously makes life easy to buy your bar tools in a complete kit, you will get everything you need and more. But, you can choose to buy your bar tools individually, which gives you more choice for each tool you want, but will be a lot more time-consuming, and will probably cost you more.
In my opinion it is a good idea to initially buy a tool kit and get used to using them and see which tools you use a lot and which ones you use now and again, or maybe not at all.
If you do it this way, you can then in time buy some tools individually when you know what you like and what you use the most. Your favorite bar tool you may want to spend more money on to get the best quality, but a tool you rarely use may suffice to stick to the one you got in your original kit.
I will look at the common tools needed for your bar, and ones that you would find in most kits.
There are a number of tools you will need for the different types of bottles that will frequent your bar.
The trusted beer bottle opener, these are a must have and not just one either, it would be a good idea to have several of these kicking around your bar. These are not just for beer bottles either, but for any bottle that has a metal crimped top.
The most popular type is the hand held opener, which can get easily mislaid, so it is a good idea to have one on a cord so it always stays with the bar. You can also get the fixed opener that is attached to the bar or a wall and collects the lids too.
This has always been a definite bar tool and still is to a point. The corkscrew is used mainly for wine bottles, and still is, but not as much as it used to be.
A lot of wine bottles now come with screw top, which means this particular tool is not in as much demand as it used to be, which will be a relief to a lot of people because it can be scary trying to de-cork a bottle without breaking the cork. We have all done it and you end up pushing the remainder of the cork into the bottle, it gets very messy and embarrassing if you are doing it in front of people.
So, the corkscrew is still a must have tool, but you won’t use it as much as in the past.
Simple but useful, the bottle stopper is a great little tool that keeps part used bottles fresh.
Again these are not needed as much as they used to be because of screw tops, but any bottle that has been opened that is not a screw top and has not been completely consumed, then a bottle stop will be solid gold at keeping the contents fresh.
These can come with some great designs too. I think 3 of these are needed at a minimum, but six plus would be better.
- Bottle Pourer
These are great for that professional pouring look, what ever the type of top the bottle has on it, take it off and replace it with a pourer and you are good to go.
For spirits, mixers or soft drinks it doesn’t matter, these pourers work with them all and make pouring a breeze.
I would suggest at least six of these, but the more the better.
Mixing It Up
The mixing department can be a busy one at any bar, so there are a few basics you will need to get the perfect mix to make the perfect drink.
- Cocktail Shaker
A must have if you want to mix your favorite cocktails or want to try out new ones, this simple container with a lid sometimes known as cobbler shaker will serve you every time. A silver 24 oz container, is a typical shaker and will be included in a basic bar kit.
- Boston Shaker
This type of cocktail shaker is just as suitable for a home bar, but is the type you will see more of in a professional environment just because they are normally bigger and you can work faster with this type.
They are literally two cups that you put together to shake your drink in, put the ingredients in one, put the other over the top and shake away, pull apart and pour. Simple and fast.
- Mixing Glass
Some ingredients that are used for making cocktails do not need shaking, and according to some should not be shaken, but I am not getting into that argument.
A mixing glass is what you might think it is, put your ingredients into the mixing glass and stir, that is it, then just pour.
- Mixing Spoon
These are spoons basically, but a little longer than your average spoon. They come in many designs and materials, but they all do the same thing, they are used with a mixing glass and mix your drink by way of stirring.
There is nothing more to say about the mixing spoon.
This bit of bar kit is used to smash or grind ingredients for mixing into cocktails, the easiest way to describe them is to say they are a bartenders pestle.
Now you can picture them.
There are many types and designs, but a useful tool for any bar.
The bartender has to measure and strain ingredients regularly, so there are several tools we will need to make life easy behind the bar.
- The Jigger
A jigger is the hourglass shape measuring tool that you will see any bartender using, one end is a smaller measurement than the other.
The small end is normally 3/4 of an ounce and the large end is 1.5 ounces, these are the standard measurements. A shot is normally the larger measurement.
You can get larger jiggers too.
It is a good idea to have a few of these as part of your bar kit.
These come in all shapes and sizes, you will find mint strainers, Hawthorne strainers, conical strainers and more. They all strain basically. If you have used your muddler to grind in some ingredients, then your strainer is going to make sure that any bits not wanted in the drink will be kept from the drink.
Ice Ice Baby
You cannot have a bar without having ice and if you have ice, then you will need a few tools to help with the use of your ice.
- Ice Bucket
The famous ice bucket is a must have in any bar. There are many types and designs, and of course sizes. There is nothing much else to say except, get one.
- Ice Scoop
This goes hand in hand with the ice bucket, a decent ice scoop will be a welcome addition to your bar and will transfer a good amount of ice to a glass in one go.
- Ice Tongs
An alternative to the scoop are the ice tongs, which will give you more control over the amount of ice you put into a drink, one ice cube at a time is the order of the day.
It is a good idea to have both to hand.
- Ice Mallet
This is exactly what it sounds like, a mallet for your ice. Smash your ice into smaller pieces with your ice mallet.
- Ice Pick
Again self-explanatory, we are all familiar with an ice pick. These tools come in handy with any bar.
There are plenty of fruits that make their way into our favorite tipples, and when this happens we need to prepare them for use. There are a few tools that will help us perform the necessary actions for our fruits to fit in.
This is a simple tool that has tiny holes that finely grate the zest of a fruit to add to drinks, a very handy tool for your bar kit.
- Citrus Squeezer
The nut cracker for fruit.
I say that because it is a very similar tool to that of a nut cracker, except it has a small bowl like part to put the piece of fruit you want to squeeze into.
They are of course used for squeezing fresh juice into your drinks.
We all know what they are and we all know how to use them. A peeler for your fruit is a handy tool to have for any bar, used to peel fruits to add to your drinks.
The Tools Of The Trade
Everything that I have included are the bartenders tools of the trade and will all have a use in your home bar. There are plenty of other tools you can add over time, but these are the basics and you would probably find these in most types of home bar kits.
As with everything, you can spend a little or a lot, there are different levels of quality and my advice is don’t go to cheap as you will be replacing far to often. There is no need to spend the earth either, unless you want to of course, there are some unique and hand crafted tools out there that do cost a lot.
Middle of the road is best, decent quality that will last and serve you well, without hitting you to hard in the pocket.
Bar tools are a personal thing and should be all about you, pick them wisely and enjoy using them.