Cocktail Recipes > Bartenders Guide > Must-Have Bar Accessories

Must-Have Bar Accessories

By Charles Whittaker

The Best Bar Tools for Novice to Pro Bartenders

Bar accessories come in many varieties and types. You may wonder what items are essential for bartending, and which bar accessories are not necessary. A well-equipped bar has all the bar accessories required to mix a variety of cocktails, highballs, and special drinks without improper substitution. Therefore, choosing the right bar tools is not just a case of guessing or settling for a group of matching bar accessories that might not have everything you need. That is not to say that all-inclusive bar accesories kits aren't a great way to start your bar accessories collection:

One of the easiest ways to equip a bar with bar accessories is, of course, to purchase an all-inclusive set or kit. If you want to suit your bar with more specific bar accessories, it is usually a better idea to purchase each piece of your equipment separately. The complete bar accessories kit is nothing to sneer at, however. Some like the look of well-matched bar accessories, especially for home and private bars. What could match more perfectly than items created as a set? The problem is, a lot of "complete" bar accessories kits might be missing an essential object or two that you might need available, and some of the higher-end bar accessories like all-in-one tools are not available as part of the set.

The advantage to a bar accessories set is, of course, the fact that items are a single purchase, and usually the cost of a set is cheaper than buying items singly for your collection. Keep in mind to choose an all-inclusive set that features full-sized bar accessories; some sets have slightly smaller sized shakers and essentials, which may make the convenient set a little less convenient, especially if you need to mix larger-volume drinks. In addition, be especially cautious not to choose a set that is attractive but not sturdy. You want to select bar accessories that will hold up well over an extended time. Here is a list of bar accessories essentials that every bartender should have readily available:

Shaker - The cocktail shaker is one of the most essential bar accessories. Cocktail shakers can be made of plastic, metal, and even glass, but you must take a lot of matters into consideration when selecting the perfect cocktail shaker for your bar accessories arsenal. Size, composition, and quality are all considerations for the shaker, which is considered by many to be the king of all bar accessories. The reasons for this are simple. Size matters in a cocktail shaker because a person accustomed to mixing drinks one at a time and exclusively focusing on martinis might be satisfied with a smaller shaker, where someone used to bartending at parties might decide this is one of the bar accessories that has to be standard to large size. Composition depends a lot on personal taste, but remember that a stainless steel cocktail shaker is a lot more conductive, making the ice work much more quickly. Aesthetics also comes into play; often it is desirable to have more than one cocktail shaker for whimsical or special event purposes.

Straine - A strainer is one of the most essential bar accessories. When you are mixing drinks that result in sediment or just for the purpose to strain ice, a bar strainer is necessary. These tools aren't completely easy to clean by hand, so be sure your cocktail strainer is dishwasher safe.

Corkscrew / Opener - Corkscrews come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but a corkscrew is one of the most essential bar accessories if you serve wine. Cork screws can be as simple as a standard old-fashioned model or as complex as The Rabbit®. Choose a corkscrew that meets your needs, and for an added bonus, look for one with an attached foil cutter.

Knife / Cutting Board - To prepare garnishes and peel ingredients, it is necessary to have a knife and cutting board handy. There are several varieties of these bar accessories available, including very pricy collectible knives. You need a very well-made, sturdy, and completely washable knife, preferably in one-piece steel for ease of thorough cleaning. Choose a cutting board that is not too large, as you will be using the knife specifically for garnishes and very small projects.

Foil Cutter - Whether the foil cutter is an attachment to your corkscrew or knife, or if you have it as a separate tool altogether, the foil cutter is essential if you serve wine. This is exclusively due to the fact that foil can injure a bartender, and since a lot of eyes are on your hands, you don't want a foil cut distracting patrons. Foil isn't always dangerous, but it depends on the brand of wine and how old it is. It's just not worth trying to strip it off the bottle without a foil cutter tool.

Tongs - Tongs are one of those bar accessories you can't bartend without. It is actually recommended that you own two varieties of tongs bar accessories. Ice tongs are an essential sanitary way of handling cubes, and tiny garnish tongs make inserting the finishing touch even easier.

Stir Spoon or Stirrer - Having a spoon exclusively for stirring drinks is not only customary, it's quite a deal more sanitary than grabbing a spoon that might have been passed through several patrons in its lifetime of washing and use. Bartending spoons should not look the same as regular spoons used by customers. In addition, etiquette dictates this spoon should never be used for anything other than stirring drinks in its entire bar accessories lifetime.

Pick - An ice pick is nice if you use block ice for your bar, but you also need a durable pick tool for garnish application. Choose a one-piece construction that is easy to wash and do not leave it on the bar in the reach of patrons who could injure themselves.

Jigger - Jiggers come in all shapes and sizes. From a dual sided measuring jigger to one with several graduated cups, a jigger is basically a tool used to measure the volume of an ingredient. Choose a jigger with several measurement options if you plan on mixing a large variety of drinks. If your bar is dimly lit, a multi-cupped jigger is preferred so you don't have to squint at measurement lines.

Ice Crusher - An ice crusher is one of the most necessary bar accessories. There are two basic varieties of ice crusher: the electric type which looks like a sturdy blender and the manual type, which requires you to spin a handle.

Pourers - Measured Pourers are a great tool to help a bartender pour out the perfect measurement every time. They can be purchased in a variety of colors so that you can tell the difference between volume measurements. Choose quality pourers with collars and sturdy construction.

Blender - One of the only ways of preparing a high volume of margaritas is to use a blender, but it is usually preferable to select a blender with high volume capabilities and when possible, a glass pitcher attachment. You want to select a blender with a warranty and a reputation for durability.

Zester / Reamer - Garnishes involving citrus fruits are easier to slice and dress with a zester. Often, you can find a zester that comes with a set of bar boards. Make lemon twists and slices or add a little zing to mixed cocktails with peels or juice using one of these great bar accessories.

Citrus Press / Juicer - If your patrons prefer freshly-squeezed citrus ingredients, a juicer or citrus press is one of the nicest bar accessories to have handy, especially on Magarita night for all those limes! There are countless varieties of juicer available, but most bartenders prefer a single-arm manual unit.

Garnish Storage - Having a quality garnish storage system is essential, so storage bar accessories should be on your list of essential bar tools. From olive caddies to simple sealable citrus containers, choose garnish storage that compliments your bar and retains the flavor and color of the garnish.

Glasses - Though not readily considered bar accessories, keep your bar stocked with plenty of glasses in the varieties necessary for the types of drinks served. For every drink, there is a proper glass. Be prepared.

Thermometer - If you are serving wine, a wine thermometer will tell you if the bottle is properly chilled. Wine thermometers look a lot like cuff style bracelets, and they fits on the bottle snuggly to tell if the temperature of the wine is proper for the variety. Not every bartender uses wine essential bar accessories like wine thermometers, but it is a nice perk for your more distinguished patrons.

Equipping your bar with the necessary bar accessories is not only recommended, it's essential for producing the best drinks quickly and efficiently. Have fun stocking your bar with this list of great tools, which will help you enjoy plenty of years of delicious drinks and fun.