If life were just about Rebel Yell, then you could swig from the bottle and boom: sweet bourbon on the tongue, mission accomplished, see ya later.
But that denies you the pleasure of exploring and amassing an entire artillery of cool barware gadgets that make cocktails not only a social experience but an art form.
The art of mixing and pouring drinks goes back centuries, utilizing key tools whose form and purpose have been well-honed. They exist to make a cocktail the very best it can be.
After all, what separates us from the savages are the tools we use.
Glasses. Basically, you need big ones and little ones: a highball glass that holds about 12 ounces for mixed drinks; an 8-ounce “rocks” glass for straight up or on ice; and a shot glass for when you’re just feeling a little more rebellious.
Shaker. You can’t have a bar without a shaker, and not just because of the Tom Cruise movie. This essential tool lets you mix up your ingredients thoroughly and, with ice, it gets your drink nice and cold. The stainless steel “cobbler” shaker comes with lid and strainer for pouring, and it has a suave, midcentury-modern style.
Jigger. Even veteran bartenders who learn to eyeball a shot still rely on this handy little stainless-steel measuring tool. Shaped like an hourglass, one side holds 1 ounce, your basic measure. The other can be either 1.5 or 2 ounces. Mixing drinks is a little like chemistry or baking. You need to get the proportions just right.
If you’re going for all of the things, you can add a muddler — a handheld wooden club that lets you crush in a glass herbs such as mint, ice, or anything else that gets in your way. A handheld juice press squeezes out every last drop of that lime wedge.
A small paring knife dedicated to cutting fruit is useful, and a tall spoon with a long handle serves as a quick backup mixer in a pinch. A silicone ice tray that makes big ice cubes in round or square shapes is so hot right now, and a fancy ice bucket gives your bar top the finishing touch.