Being a bartender is more than just mixing drinks; it's an art. Just as an artist needs their tools, a bartender needs a specialized set of equipment to craft the perfect cocktail.
As a restaurant or bar owner, you likely know the essentials needed to stock a bar. However, to meet the unique demands of their trade, most professional mixologists have their own bartender kits.
You may be wondering, “What tools does MY bartender need?”
In this guide, we'll explore the essential bar tools that every mixologist should have. Of course, you will need to ask your bartender if they have preferences for specific tools. Nevertheless, this list will serve as a reference to plan that with them.
Not only does a bartender require the right tools, but it’s also essential to have the perfect uniform and accessories. Stock (formerly StockMFG) is Chicago's premium source of bartender uniforms, and we know just what bartenders need to look, feel, and do their best while on the job.
The Basics: Bar Tools Every Bartender Needs
Every bartender should have the basics: a shaker, a muddler, a jigger, a strainer, and a bar spoon. With these items, they can mix almost any drink. The best bartenders tend to have more tools in their kit, but all mixologists should start with the basics.
Shaker and Strainer
A shaker and strainer are the backbone of every bartender's kit.
They come in different shapes and sizes, but the most common is the Boston cocktail shaker. It's made up of two parts — a metal tin and a mixing glass. A strainer filters ice and pulp from the cocktail, giving it a smooth texture.
Expert mixologists often invest in additional strainers, including the Hawthorne strainer and mesh strainer. They may use a Hawthorne strainer to strain out large ice chunks, fruit pieces, or herbs, and a mesh strainer to achieve a finer level of straining, removing any remaining small particles from the cocktail for an even smoother texture.
When shopping for your bartenders' cocktail shakers or strainers, here are some pointers to consider:
- Style: Different styles of shakers and strainers have unique features and benefits. For example, Boston shakers are versatile and allow for more control over shaking and straining, while Cobbler shakers are more user-friendly for beginners.
- Material: The material of the shaker can affect the temperature of the drink, its durability, and of course, it can add to the aesthetics of the bar. Stainless steel is popular because it’s durable and easy to clean. Copper and other metals may have a more unique aesthetic, but they tend to require more upkeep to prevent tarnish.
- Size: Consider the size of the shaker and strainer and whether it can hold the desired volume of liquids and ice for the cocktails on your menu. For instance, a larger shaker may be required for drinks that have more ingredients.
Muddling brings out the flavors of these ingredients and helps create a well-rounded cocktail. A muddler is an essential tool for mixing drinks, as it allows you to muddle fruits, herbs, and spices without bruising them.
For the best results, we recommend looking into wooden muddlers, as they are less likely to damage delicate ingredients, reducing the risk of tainting the cocktail with unwanted flavors. With a high-quality muddler in your bartender’s arsenal, you'll be able to take your cocktails to new heights of flavor and sophistication.
Check out the following details when you’re picking out a muddler:
- Material: Avoid plastic muddlers, as they’re much less durable and can spoil the delicate flavors of your cocktails. Wooden muddlers are gentle on ingredients and won’t scratch or damage your glassware.
- Size and shape: A longer muddler may be able to reach deeper into mixed glasses or shakers, but a shorter one is often easier to handle. The shape of a muddler should fit comfortably in your bartender's hand and allow for easy muddling.
- Surface: We don’t want to crush the ingredients, which is why a muddler with a textured or rigid surface can help extract more natural oils from the ingredients without pulverizing them.
Choosing the right muddler is key to creating cocktails with vibrant and refreshing aromas that will delight your guests.
The jigger is a double-ended measuring tool used to measure out precise amounts of liquor, juice, and other ingredients. While many restaurants and bars use free-pour techniques, the standard jigger allows for consistent measurements of each ingredient. This helps bartenders craft drinks with the perfect balance of flavors.
Below is a checklist for picking out the perfect jigger:
- Material: Look for jiggers made from high-quality, durable materials that are easy to clean. A popular option is stainless steel.
- Capacity: Consider the amount of liquid your bartender will be measuring and choose a jigger, in sizes that are appropriate for the cocktail recipes on your menu. You may want to select multiple sizes to fit a variety of needs—the 1-ounce and 2-ounce jiggers are the most common.
- Markings: Opt for a jigger with easy-to-read markings, which can make it easier to measure ingredients accurately.
The bar spoon is a long-stemmed spoon used to stir drinks and measure certain ingredients, such as syrups and liqueurs. Bar spoons can also be used for layering drinks, such as the classic B-52 shot, which is made by layering coffee liquor, Irish cream, and Grand Marnier to display the separation of each alcohol.
Bar spoons come in a variety of sizes and styles, but the most popular is the 12-inch twisted handle spoon. This length allows for easy stirring and layering of drinks without having to worry about splashing or spilling. Other styles include the 18-inch corkscrew bar spoon and the 30-inch swizzle stick.
There are a few key features to look for when buying bar spoons:
- Length: Bar spoons are longer than regular spoons, ranging from 10–12 inches. The extra length allows the mixologist to reach the bottom of tall glasses.
- Shape: The most common shape for a bar spoon is a twisted stem with a flat, disc-shaped end. This allows the spoon to spin smoothly in a glass and helps mix the ingredients evenly.
- Material: Stainless steel is the preferred option for bar spoons as they’re durable and easy to clean, but you can also find bar spoons with gold or copper plating for a unique aesthetic. However, this may affect the durability of the tool.
- Weight: A good bar spoon should have a bit of weight to it, which helps to make mixing easier and more efficient.
Other Bar Tools and Equipment Your Mixologist Needs
Now that we've gone through the most essential bar tools, here's a quick breakdown of some other bar items that your bartender will likely reach for in a well-stocked bar.
- Bar Caddy - This tool is essential for keeping bar tools, garnishes, and other bar items organized and within easy reach. A bar caddy typically has several compartments for storing items such as napkins, straws, stirrers, and fruit.
- Bar Knife - A bar knife is important for cutting fruits, herbs, and garnishes to add to cocktails. A good bar knife should have a sharp blade for precision cutting.
- Bottle Chiller or Cooler - Your bartender needs to keep bottles of wine, beer, and other bottled drinks cold and ready for serving. There are many different types of bottle chillers, from electric models to insulated coolers.
- Bottle Opener - Used for opening beer and other bottled drinks, a bottle opener is an essential tool for any bar. There are many different types of bottle openers available, from handheld models to wall-mounted openers. For example, the bar blade is used to quickly and easily open beer and other bottled drinks. It has a thin, flat design that allows it to easily slip under the bottle cap and pop off with minimal effort. Some bar blades even have a pointed end that can be used to pierce the top of a can for easy opening.
- Citrus Juicer - This tool is used for quickly juicing lemons and limes for cocktails. A good citrus juicer should be easy to use and easy to clean.
- Cutting Boards - For preparing garnishes and other foods for drinks, cutting boards are a must-have for any bar. A good cutting board should be made of a durable material that is easy to clean and sanitize.
Glasses - The type of glass used for a cocktail can have a big impact on its presentation and taste. Stocking a variety of glassware is essential for any well-stocked bar. Some popular types of bar glasses include martini glasses, highball glasses, rocks glasses, and stemless wine glasses. It's important to choose glasses that are appropriate for the type of drink being served and that fit the style and theme of the bar.
Glass Rimmer - This tool is used to moisten the rim of a glass with a flavorful liquid before dipping it in sugar or salt. A good glass rimmer should have a non-slip bottom and be easy to clean.
- Glass Washer - To quickly and efficiently clean glassware, a glass washer is a must-have for any bar. There are many different types of glass washers available, from manual models to automated machines.
- Ice Buckets - To keep ice cubes and crushed ice close at hand, ice buckets are essential for any bar. A good ice bucket should be made of a durable material that is easy to clean and sanitize.
- Ice Scoop or Tongs - Used for quickly and hygienically scooping ice out of the ice bucket, ice scoops or tongs are a must-have for any bar. A good ice scoop or tongs should be made of a durable material that is easy to clean and sanitize.
- Pour Spouts - A huge help for accurately measuring liquor, pour spouts come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A good pour spout should be easy to install and remove, and allow for precise pouring.
- Wine Key - Used for opening wine bottles and removing the cork, a wine key is essential for any bar. A good wine key should have a sharp blade for cutting the foil and a sturdy worm for removing the cork.
The Perfect Uniform and Accessories for Bartenders
Bar tools are undoubtedly essential, but they're only as good as the talented mixologist using them. To achieve a truly outstanding bar setup, you need to consider the appropriate bartender uniforms and accessories. By doing so, your staff will feel comfortable and confident on the job, leading to better service and an overall improved customer experience.
When it comes to finding the ideal uniform, there are a few key points to consider:
- The uniform should be comfortable and professional.
- Consider opting for breathable materials such as cotton.
- Choose a style that is easily washed and dried.
- Look for a uniform with pockets or loops to keep tools handy.
- For safety, consider having your bartenders wear non-slip shoes.
- Uniforms should reflect the style and atmosphere of the environment.
Below, we look at some stylish Stock-designed bartender uniform pieces and accessories to help your staff look the part.
An apron is an essential part of a bartender's uniform. It protects their clothes from spills, stains, and dirt.
Stock offers a range of stylish and practical aprons for bartenders. For example, The Violet Hour's bib aprons are simple and understated, with a Ranch Tan hue that matches the bar's aesthetic and is a great complementary color to the bar staff's purple shirts.
Publican Anker also worked with us on custom aprons for the bartenders and another for the kitchen. The bartender aprons feature a softer brushed canvas, double pockets, and "X-Back" straps that rest on the shoulders rather than the back of the neck for comfort.
For Momotaro, Stock designed a sleek and stylish shirt with a subtle Japanese influence in the apron. The button-down shirts are made of a lightweight fabric and are charcoal colored with a cross-hatch print, while the aprons' main fabric is black canvas.
The cotton straps for the aprons are natural and braided to create an interesting visual when set against the black of the apron, and they mirror the rope detail on the dining room ceiling.
The shirt is the centerpiece of a bartender's uniform. It needs to be comfortable, breathable, and easy to move in. Stock offers a range of stylish and practical shirts for bartenders.
For example, our banded collar shirts are a modern take on the classic button-down shirt. The updated Service Oxford features a proprietary 75/25 cotton-poly blend, making it just as durable and colorfast as the original version, but with a softer and more luxurious hand feel. The short-sleeved version is perfect for a more contemporary look.
Take a look at our uniform collaboration with Goose Island.
We designed embroidered chambray shirts with a custom co-branded label for staff wear and to sell in the retail shop within the Taproom. The shirts are elegant, stylish, and perfect for an upscale bar or restaurant.
Meanwhile, our High Life Heritage Tees are soft, substantial, and practical. They come in a classic worn-in look and feature a unique screen-printed version of the "Girl on the Crate" from the early 20th century.
Pants are an important part of a bartender's uniform. They need to be comfortable, durable, and easy to move in. Stock offers a range of stylish and practical pants for bartenders.
Stock's Service jeans, made with bartenders in mind, are made with stretch denim, making them soft and comfortable for a full range of motion. Our women's stretch service chinos take the classic Stock bottom silhouette and make it more wearer-friendly with just the right amount of stretch for maneuverability.
Accessories are a key component in completing a bartender's look. Here are some of the essential bartender accessories that Stock offers:
No Touch Tool:
The No Touch Tool is a handy little tool that helps you open doors, push buttons, and even scroll on your phone without having to touch surfaces with your bare hands.
This tool is compact, easy to carry, and a must-have for any bartender, allowing them to have less contact with potentially contaminated surfaces and reducing the spread of germs.
Heather Twill Pouch:
The Heather Twill Pouch is a versatile accessory that can be used to carry all your bartending essentials. Featuring a front pouch that can accommodate a spray bottle or notebook, a large rear pouch, and a webbed carry-all strap, this low-profile accessory is perfect for keeping your hands free while you work. Pair it with our matching Heather Green Shorty Waist Apron for a cohesive look.
Bow ties are a classic accessory that adds a touch of sophistication to any bartender's uniform.
Stock's corduroy bow ties come in a range of colors and are pre-tied with adjustable straps for easy wear. These bow ties are perfect for bartenders who want to make a statement and add a touch of elegance to their look.
Stock's Bartender Looks
Stock also offers pre-designed bartender looks that combine shirts, pants, and aprons for a complete uniform solution.
For example, the Modern Bartender Uniform includes a double-breasted charcoal tweed vest, a white Service Oxford shirt, and black Service Chino pants.
The Contemporary Mixologist Uniform includes a new white Service Oxford shirt, black stretch Service jeans, and a black waxed canvas Stock apron.
Each of these pre-designed looks is carefully curated to give a cohesive and professional appearance to your staff.
Stock understands that the presentation of your staff can greatly impact the perception of your establishment, and that's why they take great care in designing these looks to ensure that they not only look good and timeless, but are also practical and comfortable for your employees to wear.
If you're feeling inspired by these looks, Stock can also work with you to design custom uniforms that perfectly match your brand's identity and style. Whether you need a specific color, pattern, or logo embroidered onto your uniforms, Stock's team of experts can help you create a uniform solution that reflects your brand and makes a lasting impression on your customers.
Get the Best of Bartending with Stock
Bartenders are artists, and having the right bartending tools and uniform is critical to crafting delicious cocktails that leave guests wanting more.
We’ve explored the essential bar tools that every mixologist should have and the importance of having the perfect uniform and accessories.
If you want to complete your bar setup with the perfect mixologist look, Stock is here to help.
We can help you design custom uniforms and accessories to fit your brand's style and aesthetic. With Stock, you can ensure that your bartenders have the best uniforms, so they can focus on creating the perfect drink.