If you want to effortlessly entertain your guests but don't know where to start, you're in luck! We put together an essential guide to bartending and mixology for beginners along with the 15 products you'll need to own to get started.
For me, it all started when I moved to Wisconsin 10 years ago. I immediately noticed one thing: People in the dairy state like to drink. A lot. It wasn't long before I was able to create the perfect Old Fashioned from home, with some help from a few bartender friends, of course. And thus, a passion for bartending and mixology was born. Now I'm here to help you learn how to make all your favorite drinks from the comfort of your home...
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The Cocktail Shaker That The Pros Use
via: AmazonIf you're going to make professional-level cocktails at home, you need to use what the pros use. This Premium Cocktail Shaker Set definitely qualifies. The sturdy stainless steel construction can hold up to whatever combination of ice and liquor you throw at it (or, more specifically, in it). This is the cocktail shaker my teacher used in the mixology classes I took a few years ago, and she recommended that we all go home and buy one for ourselves. So I did. And you should, too. Bonus: It's just over 20 bucks!
The Double Jigger Set That Gives You Perfect Proportions
via: AmazonYou've probably seen a bartender use a jigger before, but might be wondering what this weird-looking tool actually does. When it comes to creating a cocktail, it's all about getting the measurements right. This Double Jigger Set by Barvivo helps you do just that. The two-sided design of this rust-proof jigger set features a 0.5-ounce side and a 1-ounce side. With this nifty tool, you'll no longer have to guestimate how much liquor you're putting into your cocktails. No more disappointingly weak or ridiculously boozy drinks!
The Cocktail Strainer That Strains in One Quick Step
via: AmazonOf all the pieces in my mixology tool kit, this Steel Cocktail Strainer by OXO makes me feel the most like an actual bartender. I'd watched my friends in the service industry whip this little baby out countless times, and I knew I had to try it out for myself. Here's how it works: You use your shaker to mix up your chosen concoction, then place this strainer over the top before pouring the finished drink into a martini glass, tumbler, or whatever type of glassware works best for your cocktail.
The Cocktail Spoon That's Super Versatile
via: AmazonYa know those super long, curvy spoons that bartenders use to stir drinks? You need one of those for your mixology kit, too. But here's the thing: You'll probably end up using it for more than just cocktails. I've used my Stainless Steel Mixing Spoon by Hiware to mix up my morning smoothies and to get every last bit of a milkshake from the bottom of a tall glass. The curved middle is designed to spin effortlessly when stirring, which, once you perfect it, is a beautiful sight to behold. I could probably watch this thing spinning for hours. It's just that mesmerizing. Oh, and it's also dishwasher safe and under $10.
The Bottle Openers That Bartenders Swear By
via: AmazonIf bartenders are notorious for using a product, you know it's good. And these premium bottle openers by Axim USA are used by mixologists around the world. They're known for being "the most reliable opener on the market", and I can see why. This set of 3 is made from strong grade A heavy-duty stainless steel, meaning it won't let you down when you're in the middle of making a drink. I love how the larger size makes it easier and more comfortable to use.
The Liquor Bottle Pourers Set That Prevents Spills
via: AmazonHand-crafting cocktails can be a messy business, but if you want to prevent spills like the pros do, you need to buy yourself a set of bottle pourers like this one by Chefast. Not only do they work amazingly well, but they add a legit touch to my home bar setup. I like having people over for craft cocktails and making several drinks at a time, so these pourers make the process go much faster. Plus, they fit snugly on a variety of liquor bottles, from gin to whiskey to tequila. I love this set!
The Cocktail Bitters That Add Delicious Depth
via: AmazonIf you're serious about getting into mixology, choosing high-quality bitters as key. Trust me, I've tasted enough of the cheap stuff to know the difference. This variety set by Hella Cocktail Co. is one that a bartender buddy introduced me to and I've been using for years. This set has everything you'll need to create the classics, plus fun flavors that you'll love experimenting with. The smoked chili adds an amazing kick to drinks and can turn a bland, boring cocktail into something extraordinary. It's my hands-down favorite.
The Silicone Ice Cube Trays That Make Drinks Extra Fancy
via: AmazonAbout a year ago, I went over to a friend's house for drinks after work. I watched in awe as he shook up an expertly crafted cocktail only to finish it off by plunking a giant round ice cube into the glass before pouring the drink over it. I was shocked. It turns out, you can make those same oversized ice cubes you see at upscale lounges at home with these silicone cocktail molds. This set of 2 includes one that makes cubes and one that makes spheres. You'll never go back to boring ice cubes again!
The Citrus Peeler That Adds a Gorgeous Garnish
via: AmazonIf you live in Wisconsin and try to serve someone an Old Fashioned without the orange peel garnish, you might as well change your name and move to a different country. It's that important. It adds a lovely citrus flavor and intoxicating aroma to the drink. This citrus peeler by 1Easylife is a handy little multitasker that every home bartender needs in their kit. The small circular holes at the end zest in one quick motion, while the center makes it easy to nab the perfect peel.
The Cocktail Glassware Set That Includes The Essentials
via: AmazonLet's talk glassware. How embarrassing would it be to create a complex, delicious drink for a friend or family member only to have to serve it to them in an old Garfield coffee mug? That's where this Libbey Craft Spirits Assorted Drinkware Glasses Set comes in. This 6-piece set includes a tequila glass, a scotch glass, a cognac glass, a whiskey glass, and a rye glass. These are large enough for cocktails but also expertly designed for enjoying spirits neat, which I always suggest for anyone who wants to get into mixology since it helps you get to know your liquor.
The Simple Syrup That Has a Unique Flavor Profile
via: AmazonWhen I first discovered this Traeger Grills Smoked Simple Syrup Cocktail Mixer I went nuts. Such a complex and delicious simple syrup is available on Amazon? It didn't seem possible! But after I tried it for the first time in a smokey Tom Collins, I was blown away. The combination of smoke, vanilla, and clove work together beautifully to bring out nuances in different types of spirits and add a unique spin to classic drinks you've known and loved for years. I recommend this wonderful stuff to everyone!
The Cocktail Muddler That Adds Fresh Flavor
via: AmazonThere's nothing better than muddling up some fresh mint leaves and lime to create a tart, refreshing mojito on a hot summer day. This Stainless Steel Cocktail Muddler gets the job done and is so fun to use that I'm constantly dreaming up new ways to use it. The stainless steel design makes it insanely durable and easy to clean, and I love how the sharp little teeth completely obliterate whatever I want to muddle in a manner of seconds. This is a must-have for any serious mixologist.
The Corkscrew Bottle Opener That Has a Clever Design
via: AmazonEvery summer I become completely obsessed with making sangria for pretty much the entire month of July. I love mixing up a big batch of it and throwing in a crazy mix of citrus fruits, berries, and whatever else I can find in my fridge. This obviously involves opening up a lot of bottles of wine, and I'm always glad I have this Corkscrew Wine Bottle Opener. This nifty gadget opens a bottle of wine in 2 seconds flat and even comes with a wine stopper and a built-in foil cutter.
The Cocktail Mixing Glass That Mixologists Love
via: AmazonRemember how James Bond prefers his martinis to be "shaken, not stirred"? This Mixing Glass for Stirred Cocktails by A Bar Above is a great option for those who prefer things the other way around. This mixing glass is a great companion for that long, curvy spoon I listed earlier. I'm extremely clumsy, so I appreciate the solid glass construction that keeps it from being easily broken. I've even dropped this thing on the floor mid-stir and it didn't break. It did, however, completely ruin my drink, which was a horrible tragedy.
The Mixology Book for Beginners That Helps You Make The Classics
via: AmazonSure, I've gotten to the point where I know a number of drink recipes by heart, but it definitely hasn't always been this way. At first, I had to look up every recipe in my handy dandy mixology recipe book and it took a lot of practice to get them right. This book, titled "The Art of Mixology: Classic Cocktails and Curious Concoctions", is the exact one I own, and I still pull it out every now and then as a refresher or to learn something new. Plus, it looks snazzy in my art deco-themed home bar.