For those of us who don’t have bartending experience and don’t really think about what it entails, the art of filling those glasses might seem kind of basic. However, there’s quite a bit of complexity to making the best cocktails, and people who are really into the stuff like to keep learning about the ins and outs of being a mixologist.
Some of your pro bartenders are like professors – they like to compare mixing drinks to chemistry, or even particle physics. Others like to compare drink-making to something different, like being an auto mechanic – they’re toolhounds, and they love all of the gear and additional accessories that go into stocking a well-tended bar.
For these folks (and everyone else who loves a good cocktail), we put together a list of the best mixology gifts for a home bartender’s collection. Browse this list of useful additions to the bar, to get a better idea of what goes into serving drinks day in and day out.
People who have viewed a pro bartender in motion know that the shaker is a big part of good presentation in action.
Shakers aren’t really complex, though – the biggest consideration is getting high-quality metal models that will stand up to the job over time. These high-design stainless shakers do the trick.
Make sure you don’t put too much alcohol in the well drinks! The traditional jigger hourglass-shaped tool is a measurement device that’s used to make sure that all of your drinks are ‘Goldilocks’ drinks – not to weak, not too strong … but just right!
Like the shaker, the ice scoop allows your favorite bartender to turn on a dime, whirl around and get a glass, and present it to you “on the rocks,” all in the blink of an eye. One of the biggest considerations for ice scoops is getting scoops that are sized, and shaped, according to how the freezer or ice machine is set up. Your bartender will be using this scoop a lot – so design matters.
At the end of the day, you need good glassware to be a good bartender. You want your tall glasses for your long island iced teas, your martini glasses, shot glasses and cocktail glasses, and other glasswares for your pints of beer, etc.
In addition, you’re going to want little ornamental accessories like toothpicks or tiny umbrellas. Think about getting these items made of natural products like bamboo, in order to make your drinks more sustainable and prevent various kinds of contaminants from getting into your cocktails.
Now, we’re getting into some of the hand tools that bartenders and mixologists use to really get creative with mixed drinks.
Small graters will give the bartender access to exotic tastes like Szechuan peppercorns or allspice, or cloves, or, in the case of something like a lemon drop or lemon rosemary gin fizz, lemon zest.
Being able to shave off tiny bits of your secondary ingredients can help your bartender to pack each drink with flavor, and experiment with mixology in a new way.
Someone who’s had a lot of experience making cocktails knows that over time, you’re going to have certain scenarios where sludge builds up and has to be strained from the drink. Maybe there’s too much citrus pulp, or your herbal mix isn’t right in your mojito – strainers are a good part of a mixologist’s kit just for those occasional emergencies, and others.
This one is sweet – no pun intended!
It’s not like your bartender is going to use the melon baller every day. There aren’t a whole lot of traditional cocktails that require small spheres of watermelon or cantaloupe, or honeydew.
However, there are drinks like the Thornton Melon-Ball (endorsed by none other than Guy Fieri) where these little extras lurk below the surface, and some other traditional drinks where melon balls are proudly displayed on top of the cocktail. What they have in common is that they look magnificent on the bar, so a melon baller can really be useful for a mixologist genius.
If you want to get to the bottom of your drink, a bar spoon is a must. Help your bartender to chase the maraschino cherry around, or get a clean reach down to the bottom of a high-built glass to take care of business down there.
This tool is kind of what it sounds like, but it’s more of an obscure part of the bartender’s kit.
The muddler is really pretty simple: it’s a heavier sort of mortar-like tool that you use to switch things around. If you think about it, though, it’s really instrumental in mixology, because your goal is to get the right texture and dispersed ingredients for your cocktails. So having one of these on hand can be a real lifesaver in busy service.
Bartending and Mixology Kits
You can get a lot of these individual items in an attractive bartending or mixologist’s kit. Get your graters, your strainers, your shaker, your jigger and everything else made with the same attention to quality and durability, in one neat package.
These are some excellent gift ideas for the budding bartender. At Chefs’ Toys, where we have real kitchen experience, we know the value of the tools that chefs and others use every day, in restaurants, in catering, and at home, to get the results that inspire and elevate. Take a look at what we offer for the top chef… or mixologist.