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Aug 04, 2023

Essential Tools And Ingredients To Kickstart Your Mixology Career

The art of mixology is a fascinating subject but sometimes the terminology can be a little daunting. Here are the essential items that you need to know about.

Last update: Aug 31, 2023 -

3 min read


The art of mixology is a fascinating subject to learn about, but sometimes the terminology can be a little daunting. However, there’s no need to invest in a lot of expensive equipment or obscure ingredients to begin your cocktail making journey or mixology course. Here are the basic essential items that you need to know about.

Cocktail shaker

A good quality cocktail shaker that is resistant to rust and easy to clean should be the number one priority for your shopping list. They are used to thoroughly mix and chill the drink. There are three main types of shaker: the cobbler, the Boston shaker and the French shaker.

The cobbler, sometimes also called a Manhattan or three-piece shaker, is probably the easiest shaker for a complete beginner to use. It has a built-in strainer with a cap and lid, and has the classic tapered shape. Cobblers are straightforward to use, as you simply add all the ingredients, close the top and shake it about.

The cobbler also tends to be smaller and lighter than other shakers, so you don’t need such a strong grip and toned up arm muscles to get good results. However, they can be prone to becoming clogged up with ice and other solids, and with the smallest models, you will be limited to mixing just one drink at a time.

Boston shakers are the type most commonly used by professional bartenders. They are larger than cobblers, typically capable of holding a pint or more. This means that they are heavier, and some people may find them more difficult to handle. It’s a two-piece shaker with a tin and an inner glass section. The strainer needs to be bought separately.

The French shaker also comprises two parts and requires a separate strainer. However, it has the more elegant tapered shape of a cobbler, and is easier to get to grips with. It is a less well known type of shaker than the other two, but if you want the best of both worlds, the French shaker is definitely worth investigating.

Bar Spoon

A bar spoon is a long-handled spoon that is used for stirring drinks, whether in the shaker or directly in the glass. They have twisted stems which further helps to blend the ingredients.


A jigger is an hourglass shaped measuring tool that allows you to accurately measure a standard shot, and also a smaller shot, sometimes known as a ‘pony’. This is essential to ensure that your drink has the right amount of alcohol content, and is neither too diluted or too overpowering.

Cocktail glasses

You can use regular tumblers or wine glasses to serve cocktails when you first start out, but for more professional results you may want to invest in some more specialised glassware, such as the martini glass, balloon glasses, and highball glasses. These are not just about appearances; the shape of the glass affects the temperature, flavour and aroma of the drink.

Balloon shaped glasses can hold a lot of ice and pieces of fruit, and are perfect for drinks that need to be served super chilled and benefit from the infusion of fruity flavours, such as punch or a gin and tonic.

Funnel shaped martini glasses not only look chic, but the narrow base intensifies the flavours, while the wider surface area allows the aromas of the drink to breathe.


A muddler is used to gently crush fresh ingredients such as herbs and pieces of fruit to release the flavours. Sometimes, more vigorous action may be needed, so it’s best to invest in a high quality muddler that is built to last. Make sure that the grip is easy and comfortable, and choose a durable material such as wood or stainless steel.

Citrus juicer

A juicer enables you to use freshly squeezed juices, which provide a superior quality of flavour. You will also have more scope for blending different types of juice for a more versatile and unique range of flavours.

Ice buckets

Ice should not be underestimated as an ingredient in cocktails. It’s not just there to chill the drink, but also to slightly dilute the alcohol so that the drink is not too potent. Use liberal amounts of ice, as this will melt more slowly.


You don’t need to track down lots of exotic ingredients to set up your home bar, but investing in some good quality spirits that are most commonly used as a base alcohol, such as vodka, gin, whisky, and rum, will stand you in good stead.


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