So you’ve finally got your hands on that Pinterest worthy bar cart but what do you actually need to make a cocktail? Here are some cocktail essentials that you need to get you going…
This is that weird space age egg cup looking thing (that’s actually the technical term for them). Jiggers are used to help get the correct measurements for your cocktails, which is key to balancing the taste of your cocktail. Even if you aren’t planning on making anything fancy they are great for getting the perfect measurements for cocktails such as Cuba Libres, Screwdrivers or even a classic G&T. Here in the UK the smaller half holds 25ml of liquid, while the larger half holds 50ml. However depending on where you have purchased yours from this may vary.
Not like your average spoon, the bar spoon is usually fairly long in length with a twisted body and a flat disc to one end (plus a spoon to the other). This is used for stirring cocktails (duh), measuring out smaller ingredients such as Chambord in a bramble & also for crushing ingredients like fruit/mint. According to Payman Bahmani on Umami Mart “The key is the twisted part of the barspoon, which allows the adept bartender to rotate the spoon while stirring, which enables a more fluid motion that doesn’t clank the ice around.” – fancy!
Now there are 2 main types of shakers, the Boston shaker & the Manhattan shaker. I personally prefer the Boston shaker but for those starting out the Manhattan shaker is probably the best bet and the prettier of the two.
The Boston shaker is made up of two parts, one large tempered glass and another steel cup. Your ingredients are placed in the glass end and the metal is placed over the top and sealed with a good whack. Your cocktail can then be shaken to your heart’s content and then unsealed, ready to pour, with another whack where the rim of the glass meets the metal cup. The unsealing part is an art I am yet to master and can result in a bruised palm if you go a bit HAM.
The Manhattan shaker on the other hand is made up of one large glass or metal cup, a lid with built-in strainer and a small cap to fit over the strainer while shaking. This classic style is probably the most commonly seen and easiest to get hold of on the highstreet. However it’s not without its faults. Because of its design when shaking with ice you may run into issues removing the lid or straining your cocktail.
This strainer is commonly used by those with a Boston shaker although can be used instead of the built-in strainer on the Manhattan style. It consists of a large flat disc with a coiled spring underneath and should fit perfectly over any shaker. It’s main purpose is to make sure no unwanted ice or lumps of fruit make it into the cocktail you’ve just lovingly made. They are designed so that you can easily affix the strainer over your shaker with one finger while pouring your drink.
You can’t make a cocktail without alcohol, at least not a non-virgin one anyway. It’s a good idea to stock your bar with what you most likely to drink/make, as well as having a few other basic spirits.
Spirits such as white rum, gin, vodka, whiskey & tequila make up a base for many cocktails and while you may have a certain spirit you can’t stand, if you are planning to make cocktails for guests it’s always handy to have a bottle around. If however you’re likely to just be making cocktails for you & your partner, you can get away with bypassing anything you really hate. As well as your basic spirits, sugar syrup is another must in my opinion. Fruit juices & specialty liqueurs can be bought as and when you need them.
No not the kind you use to see. Having a range of glasses in your cupboard (or directly on your bar cart) will help add the finishing touches to your perfectly crafted cocktail. After all, you don’t want to spend hours making that French martini only to serve it in a mug. It’s best to have a mix of the following: highball, lowball, martini/margarita glass & champagne flutes.
The highball is a fairly standard tall glass used for cocktails such as the Long Island ice tea or mojitos. Lowball glasses are the shorter brother of the highball & are used for drinks such as an Amaretto sour or old fashioned’s. The martini glass is your typical cocktail glass & has a lovely saucer shape, whereas the margarita glass has a curvier shape with a pronounced edge. Traditionally the margarita glass would be used for daiquiris or you guessed it margaritas, while martinis are mainly used for martinis, of course. However either of these glasses can be used to hold martinis or margaritas if you don’t want to purchase both. Champagne flutes are great to have in case of any celebrations that may arise and of course for whipping up cocktails such as bellini’s.
Test out your tools with these 5 Cocktail Recipes You Need To Make This Summer …