Best Bartender Kits

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

45 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
265 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best bartender kits

Last Updated October 2019

The addition of a dedicated wet bar is a popular upgrade for homeowners and renters who love to host. However, many amateur mixologists soon discover that a bartender’s day is never done. From preparing garnishes to opening bottles to blending exotic cocktails, a bartender needs the right tools for each job. This is where a special collection of barware called a bartender kit comes into play.

At minimum, a bartender kit contains a cocktail shaker, a measuring “jigger” cup, ice tongs, a long bar spoon and a strainer. A more complete set also includes bottle stoppers, pourers, shot glasses, a garnish knife and a conical strainer. Some sets are designed to be compact and portable, while others are meant to be displayed prominently. Professional mixologists often create their own customized bartender kits, while home bartenders tend toward pre-packaged starter kits.

When shopping for a bartender kit, it is important to consider a number of factors. Some bartending sets sold for home use may not meet the standards of a commercial bar, while higher end sets marketed for professional mixologists may be too much for casual entertainers. Please consider our shortlist of quality bartender kits, and read our more detailed shopping guide for getting the most out of it.

Bartender kits make excellent housewarming gifts for homeowners with wet bars.

Key considerations

Construction

Almost every bartender kit on the market, from the most basic to the most comprehensive, uses stainless steel as its main metal component. Not only does stainless steel provide an attractive mirror sheen, it is also non-reactive to acidic ingredients, doesn’t retain scent/flavor, and is dishwasher-safe.

However, the gauge and chromium content can vary widely from set to set. Less expensive bartender kits tend to use a thinner gauge of stainless steel, which means individual pieces are more susceptible to wear and tear. Better shaker tins are not only made from a higher grade of stainless steel, but they are also weighted on the bottom for additional stability.

Some bartender kits also use tempered glass tumblers in place of a “cheater” tin. The shot glasses may also be made from a heavy form of glass. Copper plating is also a common practice, especially in higher end sets. A few bartender kits even contain gold or silver plated elements. Buying the least expensive bartender kits with thinner gauge stainless steel can lead to durability and maintenance issues later, so we suggest shopping in the mid-range for a better grade of stainless steel.

Portability

Most bartender kits are designed to move with the bartender from event to event. This makes portability an important consideration for working mixologists. Some kits are designed to be self-contained: all of the individual pieces fit snugly inside the oversized shaker tins. Others include a special carrying bag that will hold all of the tools in place between jobs. Higher end bartender kits tend to use dedicated storage cases, with specific slots for each tool and barware. Many home wet bar owners use these decorative cases to display their bartending hardware between uses.

Ease of use

Some bartender kits are intended specifically for professional mixologists, which means a casual home bartender might find them challenging to use. Others are marketed toward casual home bartenders, which may frustrate a trained mixologist trying to meet commercial standards.

The size of the jigger cups, for example, can vary widely. A larger cheater tin fits differently in the shaker than a smaller one. Some bottle openers are better suited for high volume demand than others. These are all important considerations when it comes to finding the ideal fit between the bartender and their tools.

14-piece all-you-need set

This set features a weighted 28 ounce shaker tin with a perfectly matched Boston 18 ounce cheater cup. There is also a generous supply of bottle stoppers for the most popular ingredients. The swizzled mixer spoon also has a fork for spearing onions, olives and other garnishes. The jiggers are not standard bar size, but are still fine for mixing delicious cocktails at home or office parties.

Features

Essential tools

Some experienced mixologists say a well-trained bartender can produce excellent results with only a shaker tin and a serving glass. We would add a few more pieces of barware and tools to that bare bones list. Here are the most essential pieces of equipment almost all bartender kits should include:

  • Shaker tins. The ingredients in cocktails need to be mixed vigorously in order to blend well and release their essential qualities. A single-piece cocktail shaker can perform this task well, but many mixologists prefer to use a large weighted shaker tin and cap it with a smaller “cheater” tin while mixing the ingredients. Amateur bartenders may want to use a larger size cheater tin for a more secure fit.

  • Jigger cup. Spirits and mixers for most cocktail recipes are measured out in ounces or fractions of ounces. A double jigger measuring cup allows bartenders to add the right proportion of each spirit to the shaker tin.

  • Bar spoon. Sometimes a long swizzle spoon is required to perform a more delicate mix or to stir in muddled ingredients. Most bartender kits should include a metal spoon capable of reaching the bottom of a shaker tin.

  • Hawthorne strainer. While ice cubes and muddled leaves may be part of the cocktail recipe, they do not always belong in the final product. A Hawthorne strainer fits snugly over the rim of a shaker tin and prevents unwanted ingredients from entering the serving glass.

  • Ice tongs. Many popular cocktail recipes call for ice cubes to chill the spirits and other ingredients before the drink is served. Other adult beverages are often served “on the rocks”, meaning over ice. Ice tongs are an elegant and efficient way of delivering ice from a bucket to the shaker tin or serving glass.
     

Useful accessories

More complete bartender kits include specialized tools and barware that help amateur and professional mixologists prepare drinks more efficiently and reduce spillage. Here are some additional pieces often found in larger bartender kits:

  • Bottle stoppers and pourers. Mixologists commonly add special stoppers and pourers to spirit and wine bottles to reduce spillage. The narrow spouts improve the flow, making it easier to measure spirits into a jigger cup or pour wine into a serving glass. Some bartender kits include six or more pourers, and more can be purchased separately. Some pourers are designed to aerate wine, too.

  • Speed bottle opener. One routine task a bartender usually performs dozens if not hundreds of times during a shift is opening beer bottles. A special bottle opener allows bartenders to remove caps from glass beer bottles as efficiently as possible, avoiding the damaging effects of twisting or prying off numerous caps by hand.

  • Conical strainer. While a traditional Hawthorne strainer does a good job of holding back ice and other ingredients from a finished cocktail, some recipes call for a conical strainer to remove any muddled leaves or other finely processed additives.

  • Muddler. A muddler is essential a mortar and pestle designed to crush leaves for popular cocktails such as mojitos and juleps. While the most basic bartender kits often leave out the muddler, many expert mixologists strongly urge home bartenders to keep one on hand.
DID YOU KNOW?

The size of the jigger cup in bartender kits is not standardized. A professional mixologist may need to purchase additional jiggers for commercial uses.

DID YOU KNOW?

A muddler is an essential tool for making several popular cocktails, including the mojito and mint julep.

DID YOU KNOW?

A very basic bartender’s kit may only contain five essential tools, while a complete set may have 20 pieces or more.

Bartender kits prices

Inexpensive (under $20)

Entry-level bartender kits may only contain a handful of tools designed for basic cocktail recipes, but a surprising number also include strainers, ice buckets, shot glasses and garnish knives. The overall quality may not compare with higher end stainless steel sets, but casual users should still be satisfied with the completeness of the sets. We would not recommend an entry-level bartender kit for professional use, but these sets are certainly durable enough for an occasional home party. Their main drawbacks are that the components can bend and dent more easily, and that the seal on the shaker/strainers may not be completely leak-proof.

Mid-range ($20 to $50)

This price range is really the sweet spot in terms of quality and value. An eight-piece bartender set should be constructed from high quality stainless steel, and contain virtually every tool an amateur mixologist will need. In fact, most of the contenders on our shortlist fall into this mid-range price point. More complete sets also include additional pourers and stoppers for additional spirit and wine bottles, plus durable shot glasses and a speed bottle opener for beer.

Expensive (over $50)

On the higher end of the price spectrum lives the showroom quality bartending sets, complete with customized storage and presentation cases. All of the tools, from the shaker tins to the strainers and muddlers, will either have an elegant antique appearance or the high sheen of gold or silver plating. These bartender kits should still be functional as well as ornamental, and include a number of useful additions not found in standard sets. These are the barware and tool sets to consider for a housewarming or as a gift to a newly trained professional mixologist.

For the casual mixologist

This set provides a basic collection of bartending essentials at a very appealing price point. The traditional one-piece shaker does a good job with most cocktail recipes, and also contains a built-in strainer. The jigger cups are smaller than we expected, but the set also includes modified cocktail recipes that accommodate them. This is an elegant and portable bartender kit that looks good behind the new wet bar at home.

Tips

  • Some bartender kits offer a larger cheater tin for easier use by amateur mixologists.

  • Before buying a professional grade bartender kit for a mixologist-in-training, make sure the jigger sizes are compatible with industry requirements.

  • Many mixologists start with a large bartender kit and gradually winnow it down over time. A basic five to eight piece set should be enough for most home bartenders.

  • Purchasing additional shaker tins and strainers will usually increase efficiency, but accurate measuring and mixing is more important than speed.

  • Using bottle stoppers generally reduces spills, and makes pouring spirits into the jigger much easier. Bartenders may want to invest in more bottle stoppers for spirits and wine than are included in the original set.

Other products we considered

Several bartender kits almost made our short list of contenders, including the 14 Piece Stainless Steel Bar Tools Kit by FINEDINE. We especially like the standard jigger sizes, which makes it suitable for commercial bartending assignments. The retail price is also a plus, considering the completeness of the set. While the Stock Harbor 8 Piece Stainless Steel Bartender Set with Curved Bamboo Base may only contain the most basic bartending tools, it receives high marks for presentation. Every piece is stainless steel, and the entire kit rests in a simple, elegant bamboo base for storage and display. One of the most comprehensive bartending kits we considered is the Premium Cocktail Set Mixology Kit for Bar and Home by 34andMORE.

This 17-piece bartending set includes stoppers and pourers for both spirits and wine, which improves overall accuracy and efficiency. The manufacturer also provides access to an ebook collection of popular drink recipes.

Bartender kits for professional mixologists may contain different tools than kits sold for home use.

FAQ

Q. I just added a wet bar to my basement game room. Should I invest in a deluxe bartender’s kit?

A. While a multi-piece bartending kit complete with bottle stoppers, muddlers, speed bottle openers and other tools may seem like a good investment, it isn’t necessary for most home mixologists. A basic eight-piece bartending kit should contain enough hardware to prep fruit, mix cocktails and open beer or wine bottles.

Q. My son is receiving on-the-job training to become a licensed bartender. Would a bartender kit be a good present when he starts his new position?

A. Many bars and restaurants provide employees with the proper tools to perform their duties. Some bartender kits do not include the right jigger cup sizes or commercial grade tools. You may want to have a discussion with your son before investing in a bartender kit. He may need it for catering or freelance bartending assignments, but also may just prefer a book of recipes or a higher-end individual tool. You may also want to buy him a collection of ingredients to make cocktails, such as top-shelf liquor and mixers.

Q. Can I use the standard kitchen tools I already own instead of buying a specialized bartender kit?

A. There are a few mixology-related tasks you can perform with standard tools like a paring knife or an ice scoop, However, many of the tools included in a bartender kit are designed specifically for the art of creating cocktails from precise recipes. Shaker tins are hard to duplicate with standard glassware, and obtaining exact measurements of alcohol can be challenging without a jigger cup. Even a basic five-piece cocktail shaker set is preferable to improvising with regular kitchenware.

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