Tips for Bartending at Home

A photo of a bartender pouring a cocktail in a martini glass
With COVID-19 keeping many of us inside and looking for new hobbies to help fight the boredom, now is the perfect time to take up bartending at home. Learn more about the basic tools you will need to start building your repertoire of tasty drinks.

With COVID-19 keeping many of us inside and looking for new hobbies to help fight the boredom, now is the perfect time to take up bartending at home. It won’t take long to perfect some classic drinks that you will eventually be able to serve up to friends and family. Learn more about the basic tools you will need to start building your repertoire of tasty drinks.

Tools You’ll Need for Bartending at Home

If you have ever watched a mixologist at work, the amount of tools and steps involved can be intimidating. However, once you invest in these basic tools and learn more about their purpose, you will be well on your way to becoming a mixologist.

Jigger – A good cocktail relies on a balance of flavors. That means accurate measurements are key. A jigger simply helps you measure out ingredients.

Shaker – A shaker includes a cup and a top so that you can shake and cool the drink. There are different styles available, but they all work basically the same.

Strainer – Many shakers come with built-in strainers, but if you opted for a Boston shaker, you will have to purchase a separate strainer. This tool makes sure that fruit pulp and too much ice doesn’t make it into the drink.

Bar spoon – While any spoon will work in a pinch, mixologists prefer the long spiral handle of the bar spoon. The design can accommodate any type of glassware and helps to create layered cocktails.

Muddler – Muddling is a technique that allows you to release the aromas of herbs without bruising the leaves. A muddler will help achieve the right flavor.

Citrus juicer – Fresh fruit juice is key when it comes to great cocktails. A citrus juicer will help you quickly and neatly collect juice.

Channel knife – Achieve the perfect orange peel spiral with the help of the spoon shaped knife. 

Glasses – Presentation is everything, even when you’re bartending at home. When it comes to glassware, the options are practically limitless. Investing in some high-quality glassware will elevate your mixology game.

Six Essential Cocktails

The Fine Art of Mixing Cocktails  by David A. Embury is widely considered the seminal book on mixology. He identifies six basic drinks that should be mastered, even if you’re bartending at home:

  • Daiquiri
  • Jack Rose
  • Manhattan
  • Martini
  • Old Fashioned
  • Sidecar

Once you have these essential cocktails down, you can work on expanding your skills.

Essential Liquors for Bartending at Home

With so many different cocktails and liquor choices on the market it can be hard to know where to begin when you’re bartending at home. If you stock your home bar with gin, vodka, rum and rye whiskey, you will be able to make a wide variety of drinks. For Manhattans and martinis, you will also want to have bottles of both sweet and dry vermouth on hand. Finally, don’t forget about liqueurs such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau, bitters and fresh fruit. 

Mixology Terminology

As you browse through recipes, you may notice that the call for “one part.” While this may seem like a vague direction, it is indicating that one part should be an equal part. For example, if you are using the jigger to measure, one part would be 1 full jigger. It is less about the actual amount and more about the ratio among ingredients. 

If you want to practice bartending at home, start with the right tools and basic ingredients. From there, you can continue to practice and master the six basic drinks. Eventually, you’ll be making all sorts of cocktails and maybe even inventing a few of your own. 

If you find yourself looking for an easier alternative to bartending at home, you can always explore ready-to-drink cocktails. Visit our other blog post for everything you need to know about premixed cocktails.


What tools does every mixologist need?

Glassware, shaker, strainer, jigger, bar spoon, citrus juicer and channel knife.

What are the six basic cocktails?

Daiquiri, Jack Rose, Manhattan, martini, old fashioned, and sidecar.

What are the core liquors that should form the base of my mixology?

Vodka, rum, gin, rye whiskey, and sweet and dry vermouth. Don’t forget to purchase a bottle of bitters and fresh citrus fruits.

What is “a part” in mixology?

Mixology is all about balancing ingredients and achieving the right ratio. One part essentially means “equal part.”

What are easy cocktails to learn how to make?

Gin and tonic, martini, Manhattan, sidecar, gimlet, margarita, champagne cocktail, negroni, dark n’ stormy and daiquiri.  



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