Modern bartenders have all sorts of complicated gizmos they use to create cocktails, such as an immersion circulator for flash infusing. But do we cocktail enthusiasts really need the equipment to get into barrel-aging Negroni or concocting our own bitters or distillates?
Wizard bartender Gabriella Mlynarczyk (late of Ink, now of Cadet) is into all that techno-gear, but she also makes some lovely old-school, new-school cocktails with stuff anyone can have at home. We talked with Mlynarczyk and with Joe Keeper of Bar Keeper in Silver Lake about what cool tools they'd recommend people have in a home bar kit, from the basics to the quirky or sublime.
You can find most of these tools at Bar Keeper, Bar & Garden in Culver City or the Mixing Glass in Costa Mesa; the Arad shaker is from Alessi in West Hollywood.
Jiggers: Update your collection with elegant bell-shaped and gold-plated models. Why not show off while you're doling out the spirits? $28.
Mixing glass: This Yarai etched, crosshatched mixing glass adds some elegance to your cocktail setup. $45 to $60.
Mixing spoons: Go beyond utilitarian with these handsome spoons in gold and silver. $18 to $30.
Cobbler shaker: How stylish is this one with its etched, crosshatched glass bottom and stainless steel top? $90. Stainless steel, $45 to $65.
Cocktail shaker: Ron Arad designed this ultramodern "Chiringuito" in mirrored stainless steel for Alessi. It has a nifty lock on top and includes a strainer. $204.
Hawthorne strainer: Koriko's strainer has super-tight coils, eliminating double straining. "Barely anything gets through that's not liquid," says Mlynarczyk. This one comes in copper, gold or stainless. $17 to $30.
Japanese double-mesh strainer: Not your typical conical strainer, this one is rounded, more like a bowl. "Beautiful and functional," Keeper says. $21.
Ice tapper: This nifty tool used to be common in the 1950s and is now back. Made of plastic and stainless steel, it's perfect for breaking ice with a whack right in your hand. About $21.
The original swizzle stick: "It comes from Mauritius, I believe," Keeper says, and is made from a special tree that grows branches perfectly perpendicular to the trunk. It's used mainly for tiki drinks. You spin it back and forth between your palms to froth a drink. $21.
Muddler: Give up that plastic nonentity in favor of a sleek bamboo model made by a fellow in Silver Lake or a fluted walnut one. $18 to $23.
Cutting board: Made specially for bartenders, it's just 8 by 12 inches with an extra deep well to catch juices and a slot that fits the Kuhn Rikon paring knife. $25.