The Rockpool Files

Bar Essentials


Crafting cocktails requires skill and a set of well-polished, and practiced, tricks of the trade. But behind every good bartender, is a collection of indispensable bar tools. From jiggers, to muddlers and Boston Shakers, we look at the essential bar kit that every budding bartender needs.

Graduated jigger – has measurements along the side (internal and external) for different volumes, in 15 ml increments. The Japanese jigger will have a very sharp conical design generally with 30ml on one side and 60ml on the other; American is ounces.

Muddler – for crushing whole fruits and herbs in the base of a cocktail shaker. Can be made of wood (at a stretch you can use a wooden spoon). The bruising of herbs is generally to release aromats, with fruit it will liquefy/pulp any solids you require to break down before shaking/emulsifying.

Stirring jug – cocktails with high alcohol (or very light mixers) should be stirred, requiring a high-walled, ideally seamless so no additional friction and spout for ease of pouring. Can be glass but crystal is preferable because it conducts less heat.

Waiters’ friend/wine knife – for opening the odd wine bottle.

Julep strainer – used to strain/remove the liquid from the ice in cocktails that don’t contain pulp or juice, for instance a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.

Long-handled bar spoon – for stirring, measuring, layering and garnishing. The spiral design of the stem aids laminar flow, keeping the liquid together, allowing those cocktails of the 90s their tiered design. However the spiral also helps to minimise disruption in the glass as you spin the spoon, keeping the back of the spoon against the wall of the glass – minimising disruption to ice and liquid. It is also for this reason that you will want to start with the spoon in the mixing container to avoid breaking up the ice.

Ice pick – three sharp pronged design disperses force in a lateral fashion, rather than singular, allowing you to cut in a straight line easier. Used for carving ice from larger blocks. Can also be found with wider gap between prongs, or single prongs, depending on usage.

Two-part Boston Shaker – tin on tin for shaking cocktails, which chills, aerates and dilutes. A light tap to the top creates a water tight seal to allow the cocktail to be shaken.

Hawthorne strainer – is fitted with a spring which helps it fit snugly over the Boston shaker, and also helps to catch fine particles left in the cocktail before pouring.

Ice-tongs – claws make it easier for picking up ice (as opposed to flat edge).