Cocktail Kit Guide
Making an amazing cocktail at home doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right recipe, a bit of cocktail kit and only a few ingredients, creating your own at home can be a fun, enjoyable experience, and save you a pretty penny too. With cocktail bars charging anything from £5 to £15 for a drink, it’s no wonder going DIY is such an appealing option.
Shaken or stirred? When it comes to home-made cocktails, the world’s your oyster, but you’ll need the right tools to properly pull them off. If you’re wondering which cocktail-making tools do what, we’ll point you in the right direction.
Ready to mix a masterpiece? You’ll need a few basic tools to get going with or consider buying a cocktail set. We’re not suggesting you set up a home bar in your lounge, but cocktail making will be so much easier – and more fun – with cocktail shakers and jiggers at the ready.
Set your cocktail station with a chopping board, a good paring or bar knife for fruit and herbs, a zester or reamer for citrusy ingredients and a small pair of tongs. Don’t forget a corkscrew and bottle opener.
Cocktail shakers come in two forms – the traditional metal ones with a strainer in the top, or a ‘Boston shaker’ made up of a mixing glass and a ‘bar tin’ which is like a big metal beaker – you need a separate strainer with this. Lots of cocktail shakers come with helpful accessories too, so they make fab cocktail gift sets, and there are loads of styles, from classic stainless steel to shiny brass finish to put the glitz in your mix.
A strainer is used for separating ice, fruit and herbs from shaken drinks. The most recognisable design, a hawthorne strainer, has a flat, perforated plate with a coil of metal around it, while a julep strainer looks more like a soup spoon with holes. Check out this sleek little cocktail set.
One of the most essential items, a jigger is a metal tool to accurately measure cocktail spirits. Usually, the larger cone holds 50ml (a pub double measure), and the smaller one 25ml (a single shot).
Essential for stirring tall drinks, bar spoons tend to have long, spiral handles to make them easier to twizzle.
A must for mojitos and old-fashioned cocktails, a muddler is a thick stick used to mash oils and juices from mint leaves and fruit slices. Made from stainless steel, wood, or even plastic, the wider the muddler, the better it is for crushing and mixing.
Sometimes known as a speed pourer, bottle pourers are more common in bars than in homes, and they take the place of a bottle lid, allowing the cocktail maker to dispense spirits quickly.
You can’t make a cocktail without ice – whether you shake it, crush it or pour over it – so ice accessories like tongs, scoops and buckets are all really useful. Need crushed ice? Just blitz ice cubes in a blender if you have one with a ‘crushed ice’ setting, or pop some into a plastic bag, cover it with a tea towel and bash them with your muddler. Our Stackable Ice Cube Trays make thin sticks of ice that are incredibly easy to crush, and you can make cubes of all shapes and sizes with our range of ice trays.
Frozen drinks more your thing? Making cocktails with a kitchen blender is really quick and easy – that ‘crushed ice’ setting is very handy – especially if you’re making drinks for a few. A dedicated blender for frozen tipples, the Pro Margarita and Slush Maker dispenses ice-cool cocktails at a flick of the tap, mixing up a batch of margaritas, daiquiris or frosés to get any party started.
It’s fair to say that good cocktail glasses make a proper occasion of a cocktail. What you use depends on the drink, the tone you want to set and the mood you’re in, but a classic martini just wouldn’t be the same sipped from a tumbler, and you couldn’t host an authentic Great Gatsby-style cocktail party without coupe-style champagne saucers. Glam 1920s cocktails call for glasses that make you feel like a movie star before you’ve even taken a sip, so don’t forget some elegant martini glasses – they’re the perfect vessel to showcase your creations.
Get the measure
You’ve got the tools, but ‘what’s a measure?’, we hear you ask. Well, if we’re going by the book, a single measure is 25ml and a double is 50. Great. How to measure accurately then? You need to get yourself a jigger! Experienced mixologists with years of practice can pour ‘by eye’, but to ensure your cocktails are nicely balanced, a measuring jigger is essential.
How to measure in parts?
Cocktail recipes that give quantities in millilitres, shots or splashes are all very straightforward, but how do you measure a cocktail that uses parts? One ‘part’ can be any size, as long as the other ‘parts’ are equal. Think of one full jigger as a part, for example: if you need one part, pour one full jigger. For 1½ parts, pour 1 and a half jiggers. 2 parts would be two full jiggers etc. Need larger amounts for a crowd? Just use a larger tool to measure your parts.
If all of this reading has been thirsty work, we can totally recommend a cocktail or two to wet your whistle. Looking for a new recipe to shake up your repertoire? Whatever the occasion, you’ll find a sparkling selection of drinks right here. It’s a great excuse to get your friends together, and once you’ve got the hang of things, you’ll be cocktail flairing like Tom Cruise in 1988. Although we wouldn’t suggest throwing a shaker round the kitchen after a round of mojitos… Check out our Perfect Party Cocktail Recipes!