We've given you three cocktail recipes in our Mix it Up columns so far—but a fat lot of good they'll do if you don't have the proper tools at home to make them. You don't need much, and you certainly don't need to break the bank, but there are a few key components that, with a minor investment, will make your home bar all the better.
Boston Shaker: This is a two-part shaker, comprising most often a 28-ounce metal tin and a pint glass. You'll want to get both parts.
Hawthorn Strainer: Used to strain the ice from the cocktail when you are pouring it into your serving glass. If you want to get really fancy, you can also get a Julep Strainer for your stirred cocktails, which works perfectly in the pint glass side of your shaker; but the coiled spring around the side of a Hawthorn strainer ensures a good fit, regardless of which component of your shaker you end up pouring from.
Jigger: The most commonly used jiggers are two-sided, and can be found in various sizes. 1/2 oz on one side and 1 oz on the other is a good place to start, but they're so cheap that you might want to buy a few in various sizes. If you happen to have another measuring device that isn't specifically for cocktails, but is well-marked with small increments, that works too.
Get your muddle on, after the jump.
Citrus Juicer: Since fresh juices produce the best cocktails, you'll want some way to squeeze your citrus. I like the ceramic press squeezers, but a simple lemon reamer will do, as long as you remember to get the pits and seeds out of the equation.
Bar Spoon: A long spoon with a twisted handle, used for stirred drinks. It also doubles as an ice cracker once you get the technique down.
Muddler: An ideal basic muddler is solid wood with no varnish and should be flat on one end and rounded on the other. The flat part is used to mash fruit and other ingredients.
Optional: vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife: You probably have at least one of these at home already. They're great for making citrus peel garnishes.
All of the above can be found at a decent restaurant supply store—we found all of these at Chef Restaurant Supply on the Bowery in Manhattan (or you can just look online). The most expensive item of the bunch was the citrus juicer, which was roughly $13. But there are a few more things you might pick up.
Glasses: While you're out buying your pint glass for your Boston shaker, why not pick up a few cocktail glasses? If you have a set of smaller and larger glasses at home, you might be all set for many drinks served on the rocks—but what about for drinks served up? The Libbey 3777 coupe glass seems to be the glass of choice among those we asked, and you can buy them at Chef Restaurant Supply for about $4 each.
Bitters Where you buy your booze is really up to you (although we like the selection and the folks at Astor Wines & Spirits), but you generally won't find bitters in a liquor store. Kalustyan's has a wide variety of bitters, including many of the Fee Brothers and Bitter Truth lines, along with more standard Agostura and Peychauds bitters. For any bitters you can't find there, check out CocktailKingdom.com.
Once you've got these pieces in place, buy the booze and ingredients of your choice and start cocktailing. Here's one to get you started— you'll use your Boston shaker, your jiggers, and your strainer, and it would go perfectly into a Libbey 3777 coupe.
The Park Avenue Cocktail
courtesy of John the Bastard
2 oz gin (I used Plymouth) 3/4 oz pineapple juice 3/4 oz sweet vermouth 1/3 oz Grand Marnier (or orange curaçao)
Shake over ice and strain into your lovely new coupe glass.