How many tools does a home bartender really need? I find I'm of two minds on this. Sometimes I want to go keep things pared down to the essentials (just a jigger, shaker, bar spoon, strainer, and citrus reamer, ma'am). Other times I find myself eyeing spherical ice molds and ornate absinthe spoons. Here's my own bi-level bar tool essentials/appealing extras list. Tell us, what's on yours?
[Note: The "Basics" here are what I consider to be bartending essentials. The "Beyonds" are not strictly essential, but definitely worth a second look - and maybe, depending on the kind of cocktails you like to make - even a buy.]
Beyond: mini-measure for precision measuring small quantities; larger measure for batching; atomizer for misting
Basic: paring knife; muddler; reamer, press, or other basic hand-powered juicer
Beyond: electric juicer
Basic: cocktail shaker (Boston or cobbler) and bar spoon
Beyond: high-speed blender capable of crushing ice for blending frozen drinks
Basic: ice cube tray
Beyond: spherical ice molds; ice pick; rotary ice crusher; ice bucket and tongs
Basic: hawthorn strainer
Beyond: julep strainer; fine-mesh strainer (such as a tea strainer)
Basic: sharp paring knife for making citrus twists
Beyond: Swiss peeler for making citrus strips; channel-cutter for citrus spirals; fine grater for nutmeg, etc.
How does this list compare with your own? Anything missing? Anything you think is a waste of money/drawer space? Weigh in in the comments section below.
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.
Related: Summer Entertaining: How to Build a Basic Bar
(Images: Nora Maynard)