I love cocktails. It's a huge reason we opened our distillery and is obvious to anyone who visits our bar that we take cocktails very seriously.
Although we make alcohol from scratch, and are passionate about flavours and mixology, I never invested in any really nice bar equipment at home. I just found ways to do those fancy bartending techniques with things I already owned. That's what this blog is all about.
To be honest, having the actual tools is definitely handy, but unless you're shaking up a cocktail every week, it doesn't make sense to spend the money. When the day comes when you want all the fancy tools, I highly recommend checking out the company Fifth & Vermouth.
Here are some images of standard bartend tools. Hover over the picture for the names.
Bartending Tools & Their Home Alternatives
Things like a bar spoon or a mixing glass can easily be replaced with typical kitchen wares like a big spoon or a big jar. For all the other tools, read below to see some less obvious alternative home tools to bartend with.
Shakers: used to mix ingredients, usually with ice, to cool it down and dilute the alcohol.
Alternative: Metal to-go coffee mugs (aka tumblers). You can even use most lids to strain out the big chunks of ice. Second alternative is a mason jar with a lid.
Jiggers: a quick way to measure out liquids.
Alternative: baking spoon measurements. 1 oz = 30 ml and 1 Tbsp = 15 ml. If you use a regular shot glass, make sure you measure it's volume first, as they are typically 1.5 to 2 oz.
Strainers: made to fit inside shakers and mixing glasses, to strain out unwanted bits, pulp and ice chunks.
Alternative: a regular kitchen mesh strainer. Second alternative is a slotted cooking spoon or spatula.
Hand Juicer: An easy way to get fresh citrus juice
Alternative: If you're not worried about fresh juice, then just buy juice from the store! Otherwise you can actually juice citrus with a fork and your hands. 1. Roll the lime/lemon against your counter to help break up the sinew. 2. Slice the fruit in half, so you can see all the sections. 3. Take a half in your hand and a fork in the other. Stab the fork into the centre of the fruit, then squeeze the fruit while rotating the fork. Catch the juice in a bowl, and strain out the pulp.
Last but not least:
Large Ice Cubes: large ice melts slower, keeping your drink colder for longer without over-diluting it. Even better is clear ice.
Alternative: You can actually make clear ice at home. This is NOT an easy alternative, primarily because of time. But you can make the nicest ice you've ever seen right in your own home. You just need a small cooler that can fit in your freezer OR it needs to be freezing outside (i.e. Canadian winter) for your bigger cooler. You'll also need a serrated knife.
Put 3-4 inches warm water in the cooler, then put it in the freezer without the lid on. It'll take approx. 24 hrs to freeze.
Put cooler upside down in sink, until the ice block falls out.
Take the knife and cut off all the non-clear ice.
Use the knife to cute the ice block into smaller cubes.
Full step-by-step instructions can be found here: CLEAR ICE INSTRUCTIONS
With all these equipment alternatives, you can create your own top-quality cocktails right at home! Before you close this page, here are a couple other tips for home bartenders:
Shaking - you want to shake it hard and fast to break up as much of the ice as possible. Your container should feel very cold by the time you're done (unless it's insulated).
Stirring - add lots of ice and stir for at least 10 seconds. You want your cocktail to be cold and mildly diluted to taste it's full flavours.
Simple syrup is just 1 part sugar & 1 part water melted together. You can make it in your microwave or on the stove and it only takes an hour to cool in your fridge.
Good luck practicing bartending and cocktail creation! We hope our advice helps you save money and not reduce the quality of your cocktails. Cheers!