Mixology is an art form– It’s not just mixing drinks but also putting together flavor combinations in unique and interesting ways. As a mixologist, you need to have the right bar tools to make cocktails that look and taste amazing.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, having the best bar tools is seriously crucial to your success. You don’t want to get slowed down by inefficient barware! So today, we’re going over the essential bar tools that every mixologist should have in their toolkit, including cocktail shakers, strainers, muddlers, jiggers, and bar mats.
A line of Boston cocktail shakers

Boston Shakers, Copyright A Bar Above

Cocktail Shaker

The cocktail shaker is probably the most essential bar tool. There are three common types of cocktail shakers: Boston shaker, cobbler shaker, and French shaker. The Boston shaker consists of two metal mixing tins– one larger and one smaller– or one tin and a mixing glass. This is our personal favorite shaker for its ease of use and cleaning.
Meanwhile, the cobbler shaker has three parts: a metal shaker tin, a strainer, and a cap. While convenient to have a built-in strainer, they often don’t work super well, if we’re being honest. They are small and can get clogged, so you’re probably going to need a separate strainer anyway, just as a heads-up.

Cobbler Shaker, Photo courtesy of DesignPickle/adobe.stock


The French shaker is a two-part shaker that has a tall, metal shaker tin and a metal cap that seals it. This is the least popular shaker type here in the States, but it at least deserves an honorable mention.
To use a cocktail shaker, add ice (depending on the recipe– sometimes you’ll do what’s called a “dry shake” without ice first, but that it’s typical) and your cocktail ingredients, and then shake vigorously.
The Boston shaker is the most common type used by professionals because it allows for a better seal and is easier to clean. The cobbler shaker is the easiest for beginners, but it can sometimes be difficult to open. The French shaker is a hybrid of the Boston and cobbler shakers and is becoming more popular among mixologists, although it’s still rare to see behind the bar.
Various stainless steel tools strainers with cocktail

Copyright A Bar Above

Cocktail Strainer

A cocktail strainer is a bar tool that is used to remove ice cubes, fruit pulp, herbs, and other solid ingredients from a mixed drink. There are three main types of strainers: Hawthorne strainer, julep strainer, and fine mesh strainer.
The Hawthorne strainer is the most common type and is used with a Boston or French shaker. The julep strainer is used with a mixing glass and is best suited for spirit-forward, stirred cocktails. A fine strainer is used with a Hawthorne strainer, really filtering out any tiny ice shards and creating a super smooth drink. This technique is called “double-straining.”
To use a Hawthorne strainer, place the strainer over your shaker, and then pour the contents into the serving glass. The strainer will prevent any ice, pulp, or herbs from falling into the glass. To use a julep strainer, place the strainer over the mixing glass and do the same.
If you’re double-straining, simply place the fine strainer right above your cocktail glass and pour your drink through both strainers.
Hardwood muddler, copyright A Bar Above

Copyright A Bar Above


Cocktail Muddler

The cocktail muddler is a bar tool that is used to mash or crush ingredients, such as fruit or herbs, to release their flavors. The most common types of muddlers are made from wood, metal, and plastic.
The wooden muddler is the most common type and is preferred by most mixologists because it does not scratch the inside of the glass, but it’s usually not dishwasher safe. Our food-safe plastic muddler isn’t the common choice but is easy to clean by throwing it in the dishwasher.
To use your muddler, place the ingredients in the mixing glass or shaker, and use the muddler to mash or crush the ingredients lightly. This will help to release the flavors and oils from the ingredients, creating a better-tasting cocktail. Just make sure not to over-muddle herbs so that they don’t release a bitter taste.
Stainless steel Japanese jigger alcohol jigger

Copyright A Bar Above

Cocktail Jigger

The cocktail jigger is used to measure ingredients accurately and is therefore a really important piece of barware. There are several types of jiggers, including the Japanese jigger, the OXO jigger, the cup jigger, and the bell jigger. We make a sleek Japanese jigger and a vintage-style bell jigger.
The Japanese jigger is the most common type and is preferred by most mixologists because of the way it feels in between the fingers.
Our jiggers have been painstakingly tested for accuracy so that you’re guaranteed a consistent pour every time you make a drink.
To use a cocktail jigger, fill the jigger to the desired measurement, and pour the ingredient into the mixing glass or shaker. The jigger ensures that the ingredients are accurately measured, resulting in a perfectly balanced cocktail every time.
black bar mat with glass spilling on it

Copyright A Bar Above

Bar Mat

A bar mat is a bar tool that is used to keep the bar clean and tidy. It is typically made of rubber or silicone (ours are silicone) and is placed on the bar top to catch spills and prevent glasses and bottles from slipping. A bar mat is a great tool for any mixologist because it keeps the bar clean and hygienic and can also prevent accidents.
So there you have it: That’s what you need to get started in your mixology journey. Having the best bar tools is necessary to making great cocktails– really, it is! These tools help create cocktails that are visually appealing, balanced, and flavorful.
gold 14 piece cocktail shaker set for the holidays

Copyright A Bar Above

When selecting bar tools, it’s essential to choose high-quality tools that are durable and easy to use so that your cocktail-making process is more efficient and enjoyable.
Investing in the best bar tools and using them correctly will take your cocktails to the next level. By mastering these essential bar tools, you’ll be able to create cocktails that look and taste amazing, impressing your customers and earning a reputation as a skilled mixologist.