So you have stumbled across the cocktail academy’s absolutely amazing blog and you decide I need to be able to follow these guys every step of the way…… but I don’t have any super fancy cocktail equipment to get started. Fear not all you budding superstar mixologists, we are gonna give you a rundown of exactly what you will need to get you started and where you might find said tools to mix up some cocktails and dreams.
First things first! (obviously)
The icon of cocktail world……no, not Tom Cruise… The mighty cocktail shaker!
These things come in many different shapes and sizes and some of the novelty shakers even have some seriously dodgy cocktail recipes printed on there too. That said, there are three main types that you will see in most decent bars around the world. The Boston style shaker, the Parisian (two piece) and the three-piece cobbler shaker. While each of these shakers have their pros and cons, we absolutely love the Boston shaker! The Boston shaker consists of Boston can usually around 28oz (830ish MLS) and either a Boston glass, which we use in our videos, so our lovely followers can see the magic happening! or a smaller can (usually around 18oz or 530 MLS…ish), which looks cooler when you are trying to impress your friends, and let’s face it who doesn’t wanna impress people?
Right, now you are armed with your shiny new cocktail shaker, we need to get you the means to measure your way to cocktail excellence. For this we are going to use…… yes, you’ve guessed it, a measure. We can’t make great cocktails by pouring our delicious (and expensive) booze like that one friend at the end of a house party that is adding a stream of everything alcoholic available to an iceless pint glass!
If you thought the shaker selection was confusing, I’m not even gonna go there with this one. There are hundreds of different types out there. For ease of use and thriftiness we like the OXO measuring cup. Using this means you can use the same measure the whole time, removing the need to be switching between your fancy gun metal Japanese jiggers that you had to re-mortgage your house to buy.
Next up on your “must have” cocktail tool kit is a Hawthorn strainer. This wire rimmed wonder will help you hold back all that ice and unwanted debris from your shaking exploits. Look for a Hawthorn that has a wire that fits nice and snugly with your Boston can. Here at The Cocktail Academy we like to use the very reliable Bonzer Hawthorn strainer.
Sticking with the straining theme, the fine strainer is a very useful tool to have in your arsenal. These things look like tea strainers and to a certain extent, I suppose they are. One thing to watch out for with these little bad boys is the size of the holes in the strainer. Too large and you could sail the Titanic through and into your amazingly constructed libation, too small and your guests will have slipped into a boredom induced coma as a result of waiting for your nectar to flow through to the glass. Try this little conical beauty for a top quality product.
At the risk of straining our relationship (see what I did there), we have one final filtering device that comes in handy when making some very swanky stirred drinks…The Julep strainer. This one is used pretty much exclusively with a mixing glass; therefore, you will want one that fits with whatever mixing glass you have went for. No spring and can it be a bit of a pain if the fit to the mixing glass isn’t right, but when its right, it’s a beautiful thing.
Speaking of mixing glasses…
No stirred drink is complete without the over indulgent flair of a cut glass ornate mixing vessel. Well that’s not technically true, but it is for some people. The point is that mixing glasses are your own preference. Some people like to use their Boston glass, others like to go for the aforementioned cut glass Japanese style vessel with a tidy little pouring spout, there are large ones, small ones, stemmed ones, flat ones and even mixing glasses that aren’t glasses at all, they are tins, preferred for their lower thermodynamic properties (they chill better). A good size to aim for is around 16-18oz (feel free to go large if you will be doing multiple drinks often) and the rest my friends is up to you!
To accompany your sexy mixing glass you will need and equally sexy barspoon to get that stirring action on point! You will not be shocked to know that there is a plethora of choice when it comes to the trusty barspoon. For me it’s about getting a spoon that has a nice weighted feel to it with an ergonomic coil for my delicate fingers (what?, I have soft skin!)
Try this one, but over time you will probably find one you love and stick with it.
So, if you like great quality cocktails which you obviously do or you wouldn’t be reading this fantastically modest blog, then it goes without saying…………
No, it’s too important, I have to say it. YOU MUST USE FRESHLY SQUEEZED CITRUS JUICE. Clear? Good!
Now it’s all well and good me insisting on this, but anyone that’s took a rouge squirt of lemon juice to the cornea will know that squeezing citrus is no joke (a little dramatic, I know). But luckily for you there are some handy inexpensive tools to help you extract lots of fresh zingy goodness from your citrus fruits. The best all-rounder for this job is the hand press A.K.A “Mexican elbow’, A.K.A “the elbow press”. They come in different sizes to suit the different sized citrus fruits, they are colour coded to match the fruit e.g. green for limes, yellow for lemons, orange for…. Well you get the idea. We have a few, but this one a particular favourite. You can get larger, heavier mechanical presses and fancy electric juicers but then you are just showing off.
Now, while we are gonna be taking you through the world of homemade syrups, purees, cordials, infusions and loads of other cool stuff, a bar tool kit just would be complete without a good old-fashioned muddler. These blunt objects are used to prise the lovely goodness from a variety of ingredients ranging from delicate fresh mint to aromatic juniper berries. Yes, yes, I know it’s more consistent to use prepared syrups etc, but you know what, if I want a Caipirinha for my breakfast then I don’t mind quickly muddling some fresh limes to get my day started.
Lets keep it simple here. Plastic or wood. Choose one, embrace it, love it!
We just love the feeling of wood in our hands (the muddler, I’m talking about the muddler).
Ok, so here are a few other bits and bobs you will want to acquire to get the mixing mayhem started.
Good sized ice cube moulds. Normal sized cubes, larger sized cubes and if you are feeling the ice love then go ahead and get yourself an ice sphere mould. We are gonna be talking a lot more about ice in a future blog and video, so keep an eye out for that one. We take our ice seriously, but these moulds will get you kicked off.
Get a decent set of tongs for lifting your ice if you don’t want to use your hands or if you are serving to guests. An ice scoop is also handy for your normal sized cubes.
A bar knife is a must have piece of kit for any aspiring cocktail enthusiast. It needs to be sharp, the sharper the knife, the less chance you have of cutting yourself. Counterintuitive I know, but a blunt knife has been the cause of many a gruesome finger laceration. That being said we don’t want your cocktail adventures to look like something from a Kill Bill fight scene. Something like this little workhorse will do just fine.
There you have it, our list of essential weapons for any discerning cocktail aficionado wanting to come with us on this boozy journey. We will also be writing about some of the optional toys and high-tech gizmos that make cocktails extremely fun to play with (giggles), so watch this shaker.
Until next time,