Includes 12 tools including 2 different bar spoons, a waiter’s corkscrew, a grater/zester, a sieve and a spring bar strainer, a solid aluminum juicer, and a branded weighted double-sided jigger, all solid with a good feel.
Expensive. Novices may find the selection intimidating.
Includes 2 shakers, 2 shot glasses, a .75/1.25 oz two-sided jigger, bottle opener, Hawthorn strainer, and bar spoon in stainless steel, plus six black rubber bottle stop spouts. Also comes with a recipe book.
Some buyers note some rust after a few uses.
Well-made, heavy-duty tools including 2 sizes of shaker tumblers and a weighted double-sided Japanese jigger, plus a Hawthorn strainer and bar spoon, all in high-quality stainless steel.
May feel limited very quickly.
Innovative design replaces traditional shaker, strainer, and jigger with an in-glass combo unit. Chic materials and finishes include oiled beechwood on the combination muddler/reamer.
Lacks a traditional shaker/strainer.
Sleek brushed stainless steel finish with black plastic accents. The two-piece shaker comes with popular cocktail instructions printed on the insert. All the tools fit into a compact round storage stand.
Has a bar knife instead of a garnish tool.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Have you always wanted to make your favorite drink at home but thought it was too complicated to mix? A bar set gives you the basic tools needed to create cocktails and become a bartender at home — drinks that will impress your friends or simply allow you to relax with your favorite beverage in the comfort of home.
Bar sets are popular these days with people who love to entertain as well as folks who prefer to stay in. They’re not incredibly pricey, but they are incredibly handy. The question is, which bar set is right for you?
No need to feel muddled. In this buying guide, we explore the various pieces that come in a bar set, examine prices, provide tips, and answer frequently asked questions.
A good bar set gives you the ability to mix a range of drinks with just a few versatile tools. Of course, most mixologists want a few specialty tools in their kit, and that’s understandable.
It’s important to know what kinds of drinks you’ll be serving most often, whether for yourself or guests. Do you like to kick back with a beer or glass of wine in the evening? Do you love simple drinks like gin and tonic or whiskey and soda? If this sounds like you, you may not need extra gadgets like a Hawthorne strainer or a bar knife in your set. On the other hand, if you love to create signature cocktails for friends and at parties, you definitely need a more robust bar set.
Many consumers prefer to use stainless steel components to prepare their libations. The material will not interfere with the flavor or color of the ingredients you’re using to mix the drinks. Stainless steel cools down fast and returns to room temperature almost as quickly, so it won’t hamper the ideal temperature of those icy cocktail concoctions you’re making.
Notably, some bar sets come with a display stand or rotating carousel so you can prominently display your tools and keep them at the ready. Often, these stands are made of beautiful bamboo, but others are made of sleek-looking composite materials.
Bar sets can include anywhere from 5 to 15 pieces, and there are versions for every budget. If you start with a smaller set, you can always add pieces later. Just make sure you have the essentials on hand to start: a cocktail shaker, bottle opener and corkscrew, and jigger for measuring.
Here’s a breakdown of the components in a fairly robust bar set:
Depending on the bar set, this may come as a standalone item or be combined with a bottle opener so you always have the right tool on hand to open your wine and beer.
A bottle opener is a must-have for popping open beer bottles quickly.
There are several types of shakers you might want in your collection.
A cocktail strainer is designed to sit securely at the top of a glass and evenly distribute liquid as you pour. It’s an essential element for layered drinks, as it slows and controls the pour. It also strains out pulp, twigs, and other elements that would otherwise give a drink an unwanted texture or flavor. Strainer types include the following:
This long-handled spoon is used to mix or layer cocktails. It needs to easily reach the bottom of a mixing glass with room to grip and stir, and it should be the equivalent of one teaspoon (because a bar spoonful is a measuring figure used in drink recipes).
A jigger allows for the precise measurement of spirits. Choose one that measures up to 2 ounces in half-ounce increments. An hourglass-shaped double jigger allows you to quickly measure larger or smaller amounts by flipping up one end or the other.
A mixing glass is a sturdy, straight glass with a heavy base that is large enough to accommodate drink ingredients and ice.
While you could use the back of a bar spoon to crush herbs or fruit for a cocktail, a muddler gives you a fast and even crush. A stainless steel muddler is typically fitted with a rubber end cap and works best for crushing fruit. A wood muddler has a rounded or flat head that draws out the aroma and flavor of herbs.
You can quickly juice lemons, limes, and oranges with a juicer. A lever-style juicer works fast.
Don’t bang a shaker on the edge of the counter to break the seal. Use your thumb to apply pressure to the lid or the smaller mixing cup until it opens.
Bar mat: Talisman Designs Original Multi-Use Countertop Bar Mat
Protect the surface of your bar, countertop, or bar cart from spilled liquids, melting ice, and knife cuts. This mat from Talisman contains no BPA and is skid-proof.
Garnishing tools: Mercer Culinary 8-Piece Garnishing Kit
You can add pizzazz to any fruity drink with fruit garnishes. That task is made easier with purpose-built tools like the ones found in this eight-piece set.
Cocktail picks: Jazz up those cocktails and martinis with decorative, reusable picks. Unique picks are a great conversation starter, too.
Ice bucket: Unless your bar set will reside right next to the icemaker or freezer, having an ice bucket and metal tongs right next to your drink-making tools will allow you whip up drinks in no time at all.
Smoke infuser: If you love smokey flavors, these devices allow you to infuse smoke into a single drink, a whole decanter, or even salts for garnish.
Bar sets can be found in the $16 to $33 range, but these may sacrifice quality by using thinner steel or having fewer components.
Quality and necessity meet in the $34 to $59 price range, with nice additions like pouring spouts and stands.
Premium gift sets and extra touches like gold or copper plating can be found in bar sets that cost between $61 and $94.
A. Food-grade stainless steel resists rust, even when it’s dinged up. It’s easy to clean, and it looks good in any bar setup. Professional bartenders will choose stainless steel over any other material because of these qualities. Lower-priced cocktail shakers may be made of thinner stainless steel, making them vulnerable to dents and dings, but that’s about the only thing to worry about.
A. While it’s largely a matter of preference, a Cobbler shaker is a good all-around choice for new mixologists because it incorporates a measuring cup and strainer in the lid, is easy to use, and is economical. The Boston shaker, which tucks the lip of a metal or glass cup inside another metal cup, is flashy and fast — perfect for busy commercial bars — but has a learning curve.
A. No. They are nice accessories, and lower-priced bar sets sometimes include them instead of a pricer item like a strainer. That said, a pouring spout is great to have because it helps control the flow of liquor from the bottle, improves your aim, and makes measuring a lot easier.
If your bar set does not include a pouring spout, worry not: they’re easy to find on their own, and besides, you may want a different pour spout from the standard long pour, like a screened spout to keep fruit flies out of your mixer.
A. Bar sets often include a Hawthorne strainer, which is versatile because its spring helps hold it in place over a variety of mixing cup sizes. However, some mixologists recommend that beginners start with a julep strainer. Shaped like an extra-large spoon with holes poked through it, the julep strains more slowly and does not fit all cup sizes, but it’s easier to hold in place and allows newbies to hone their technique.