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An Easy Guide to Bar Tools: What And How To Use

Alright, I won’t lie, there are a bunch of tools involved in cocktail making – luckily, we’ll only be needing six to make basic drinks.

“Only six!?” You say. Well, don’t worry about that either. I swear, each item has a purpose and once you know what they do and how to use them, it’s actually pretty easy. So, just take a deep breathe and don’t sweat it. We’ll get there.

For both yours and my sake, I am going to include some affiliate links – if you want to buy some cocktail equipment via Amazon and have it delivered to you on-the-fly, I’ll have the links below. If you want to do your own online shopping and want quality, check out www.cocktailkingdom.com. They are literally the best.

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These are the essential cocktail tools that you’ll need to begin your cocktail journey:

Mixing Glass

Mixing Glasses Cocktail


The mixing glass can be just any regular pint glass (between 16 – 20 oz. or if it fits with your Boston shaker). You can either stir drinks in just the mixing glass, or it could mighty morph – power ranger-style – with the Boston shaker to become a two-part shaker. Ooooh.


Pour ingredients into the bottom of your mixing glass, and then fill two-thirds of the way up with ice. You can either put in your Barspoon at this point or mighty-morph it with the Boston shaker.


Boston Shaker



Used mostly during shaking, the Boston-tin shaker is tin (shocker, right?). Add ice and it gets cold very fast. Perfect for chilling your cocktail.


Once your mixing glass is full of ice, drop it onto the Boston shaker and a seal should form. Tap the mixing glass into the Boston-shaker to make sure that seal is tight. You don’t want your drink getting on your audience.



A) Julep Strainer



The Julep Strainer is very simple. It keeps ice and other things you were stirring, out of your completed cocktail.


This one is pretty easy: drop the julep strainer into your mixing glass (pint glass) convex side up.


Wrap your fingers around the mixing glass and hold the julep strainer where the handle meets the strainer with your forefinger, which should be on the lip of your mixing glass.

Pour your stirred cocktail into a glass vessel of your choosing.

B) Hawthorn Strainer


These strainers are great. We use these when we shake drinks, and we make shaken drinks all the time. The Hawthorn strainer keeps out clumpy ingredients and their flavors go into your cocktail. It also keeps out large chunks of ice.

If you want to keep out those tiny ice shards that sparkle on the top of your drink (am I bias?), then use a Tea-strainer – which will be talked about in another post.


Fit it into the larger half of the Boston-tin shaker – or your Yarai mixing glass.

Once again, you’ll want to wrap your hand around the Boston-tin shaker, with your forefinger holding it in place.

Begin to pour into a glass vessel of your choosing.

Also, you can push it up against the lip of the tin shaker and “Close the gate” or you can open it up again. Some Hawthorn strainers will make two streams come out if you close the gate. It’s a spectacle to behold.



I may have mentioned this before, and I will mention it again. Jiggs measure out how much fluid ounces are going into your drink. Any cocktail recipe will most likely have “2 oz. of this, 1 oz. of that.” OZ. = Ounces. Jiggers are synonymous with bartending because the bartender is able to attain precision, consistency in her/his drinks, and look very professional. Don’t worry about the American free-pour yet.


Simply take it into your non-dominant hand and pour alcohol from the bottle into the jigger. Dump the contents of the jigger into your mixing glass or Boston shaker.

Remember: slow-goings is key. Speed will come naturally. Also, it is usually good to keep the jigger near where you’re going to pour it.




What are we doing with the Barspoon, you may ask? Simple – ever heard “Shaken, not stirred.” Well, this is the stirred part. There are two basic and essential parts to cocktail-making. Stirring drinks and shaking drinks. The difference is this:

Stir when all of the ingredients are clear.

Shake when you can’t see through your drink, or if you’re using fruit juices, syrups, etc.


Hold the Barspoon between your ring finger and your middle finger. Put it into your mixing glass with the back of the spoon against the side of the glass.

Two motions will commence: think “Swish and flick”. You’ll begin to turn it clockwise – push to the other side, then pull to your original position. Continue to do this. For 25-30 seconds. Make sure you count in your head. Or aloud, if you prefer.


These six tools are the only tools that you’ll really need to start off on your bartending journey.

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the post!

If you’re feeling adventurous and want some more content… you’ll have to wait.

Also, if you’re looking to buy some of the above equipment, I’ve posted affiliate links below – and you totally do not have to buy them from amazon, there are other alternatives, like Cocktail Kingdom.

Mixing Yarai Glass:

Boston Tin Shaker:

Julep Strainer:

 Hawthorn Strainer:



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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

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