The 10 Best Bartender Kits
This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Whether you’re an amateur mixologist or a professional in the hospitality industry, you'll find one of these bartender kits ideal for practicing and perfecting your cocktail-making skills. They’re a big hit at parties, essential for happy hours, and come in a variety of designs for different skill levels and budgets. Some include sharp tools, so make sure to practice caution. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 02, 2020:
We only removed one item from the list: the Tiger Chef Professional. We noted that the X-cosrack Cocktail Set comes with dust caps, which are handy for keeping the pourers clean when not in use. It is also worth mentioning that the jigger included in the Nauzone Professional kit has an exceptionally wide mouth, which makes it easier to clean than narrow jiggers.
We did discover several complaints regarding the shaker in the Mixology & Craft 14-Piece — it can be difficult to get the lid on and off, leading to some frustration. We slightly downgraded this item. The Barillio Elite, which was previously only available with black or silver components, is now also available in a gold or copper design, which we’ve noted in the bullet points.
To replace the Tiger Chef set, we added the Mixology & Craft Travel, a relatively pricey kit that’s comprehensive enough to satisfy a professional. Unlike most sets, this one comes with a special ice bag so you don’t have to seek out ice when you arrive at a get together (as well as a wooden mallet you can use to crush the ice if needed).
December 10, 2019:
When choosing the best bartender kits, we considered the various needs for everyone from beginners who just want to make a martini to professionals who want a home kit on par with what they use at work.
For those looking for portability, we replaced the Legacy Picnic with the Jillmo Bartender Bag due to concerns about the durability of the Legacy bag. The Jillmo also provides more useful tools that are better quality.
Whatever finish you choose for the top-rated Barfly Deluxe, you'll get a beautiful set that will make you want to mix up your drinks with an audience every time, although we are partial to the antique copper finish that gives it the feel of a family heirloom.
Casamigos Bar Tool Set This compact and attractive set was designed by the makers of the award-winning tequila of the same name. You won't get a muddler, but the tools have durable, hand-forged handles, and the shaker is even accented with a faux leather band to match the real wood base of the stand. williams-sonoma.com
Bernal Cutlery Home Consisting of only a few items, this kit puts an emphasis on quality over quantity and works best as a complement to an existing set. In addition to the stainless steel petty (a small Japanese knife known for its strength) and a Japanese grater spoon, you’ll receive a book by famed spirits expert Thad Vogler, which explores the stories behind handmade cocktails from across the globe. bernal-cutlery.com
Hangar 1 Roll Up Kit From a premium distillery in California comes this handy kit, which contains all of the gear necessary for preparing even the most complicated cocktails. Experimental bartenders will appreciate the included notepad for jotting down recipe details, and all of the components easily roll up into the stylish storage bag. hangarone.com
Style You Can Use: The Bartender Kit
If you want to actually use your set to make great drinks, then consider more than mere looks.
A home bar serves as a focal point of many interiors. In a home with a dining room, the bar can set the tone for the rest of the dining space. In an apartment or a house with a larger, open floor plan, the bar can define a portion of the living area, serving both as a useful station for mixing drinks and as an aesthetically pleasing fixture to be admired by resident and visitor alike.
Having a few bottles of liquor and some mixers lined up is a fine first step toward stocking your home bar, but that sideboard or shelf is really nothing more than a storage spot for bottles until you have a superlative bartender kit perched there as well. Bartender kits are designed to be functional, but are often enough chosen more based on aesthetics than on mechanics. If you want a set of mixing tools adorning your home bar even though you don't foresee them being used often, you need only spend around fifteen dollars for a fine-looking kit. If you want to actually use your set to make great drinks, then consider more than mere looks.
Simply put, a bartender kit consists of the tools needed to conveniently prepare cocktails that involve more than one ingredient. At the most basic end of the equation, a bartender's set will include a cocktail shaker, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, and a usually a long-handled spoon. The shaker serves to rapidly mix and chill drinks and is the most important piece of equipment in the set.
Many cocktail shakers feature three pieces, a large reservoir that holds up to twenty ounces of fluid, an upper portion featuring a built-in strainer, and a top that covers the strainer during shaking and which can also be used to measure an ounce or two of liquid. If you are relatively new to mixing drinks, look for a kit with just such a shaker and consider choosing a set based around this component. All the rest of accessories, while often useful and enjoyable to use, are secondary. Look, though, for a muddler, a jigger for measuring one or two ounces, and a set of tongs.
While this might at first seem counterintuitive, in fact the more experienced a person is at mixing drinks, the more basic a bartender kit can be while still adequately meeting his or her mixology needs. That's so because the seasoned bartender has an innate sense of beverage measurements and proportions and can easily muddle, shake, stir, or pour a great drink with minimal hardware required. (You will usually see a skilled bartender pour a beverage out of a shaker using a slim gap between shaker and mixing glass, not using a strainer, for example.) While a relative amateur on the cocktail scene will benefit from a fuller range of tools and from clearly indicated measurement markers (if not an outright guide to making certain drinks), a seasoned barman or barmaid needs only a few simple implements to create dazzling drinks. Keep that notion in mind when considering a bartender kit as a gift or for your own possession, especially if you plan to master the art of mixology. The more experience you gain, the fewer tools you may use.
Finally, consider whether or not you may bring your bartender kit on the road, whether to help you serve drinks at an event or simply when you and your friends rent a ski lodge for a weekend. A bar tool set designed for travel that comes with its own organizational and protective case means an extra initial cost, but great convenience when you're away from home.
The Other Accessories Your Home Bar Needs
Your home bar is complete once you have a great bartender kit and a few fine bottles of liquor and mixers. But to make your home bar replete, add a few more accessories.
Your home bar is complete once you have a great bartender kit and a few fine bottles of liquor and mixers.
As most cocktails call for preparation using and/or serving over ice, it's a good idea to get an ice bucket that will complement your mixing tools. Some ice buckets are designed to chill bottles, others are purely for storing ice, while a few can do both. Make sure to select the type of ice vessel that meets your needs best.
If you often serve wine alongside those cocktails, then a good wine decanter can not only make the presentation more striking but can also help aerate red wines, enhancing their flavor. And for the true connoisseur of beverages, consider investing in a wine fridge. These functional and often elegant units can keep your prized bottles of wine preserved at just the right temperature and can even serve as the platform on which you set up your home bar.
Three Crucial Cocktails
Anyone who truly appreciates a great cocktail will appreciate a fine martini. To make the perfect traditional martini, start with a fine gin. Mix one part dry vermouth with six parts gin in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake things up for a minute and then strain the liquid into a glass (ideal a chilled martini glass). Garnish with an olive or a twist of lemon peel and enjoy the classic.
Mix one part dry vermouth with six parts gin in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Arguably the first real cocktail is the drink known fittingly enough today as an Old Fashioned. To prepare an Old Fashioned, first add a few dashes of Angostura bitters to a glass with a sugar cube (or a small scoop of sugar if need be). Then add a spoonful of water and mix the sugar and bitters around until dissolved and mixed. Now pour in about two ounces of bourbon or rye and a few large ice cubes. Stir well, add a large slice of orange or lemon (or both), stir again, and serve.
The Cosmopolitan is a deceptively easy cocktail to make, and one that is enjoyed by people all over the globe, likely because of how deceptively strong it is. A basic preparation of a Cosmopolitan calls for four parts vodka, two parts cranberry juice, two parts triple sec, and a hearty dash of fresh lime juice. Mix all the liquids together in a shaker filled with plenty of ice, shake well, and serve neat and cold over a slice (or wedge) of lime. Ideally you will serve this tasty libation in a martini glass, though a wine glass serves if need be.