Bar Tools 101


I hate to break it to some of you… but you can’t rely on your good looks as one of your tools for bartending success.

So ditch your inner Regina George, grab your actual bar tools, and let’s get to bartending!

Oh, wait! That’s right. You don’t quite know what you need yet. That’s why you’re here. Well, luckily for you that’s where we come in. 

Here are the essential bar tools for professional bartenders, and bar owners, all the way to home bar-lovers.

Essential Bartender Tools for Cocktail Recipes, Sommeliers, and Mixologists

Some of the tools you need to be in the bar industry are a given. You need the proper certification, a bottle of liquor, and a glass to put it in. But other tools aren’t so obvious. 

Let’s start with the no-so-obvious tools you’ll need to have a successful bartending shift.

Bar Mats

Bar mats are those black things with pokies that you see on speed rails at bars. They keep things tidy as they can easily be run through the dishwasher at the end of the shift.

Ice Cubes

You’ll need a quality ice maker. Foggy or gross-tasting ice is a really good way to ruin and drink.

Ice Bucket, Ice Scoop & Ice Holding Bin (Ice Wells)

That ice isn’t going to bring itself to the bar. You’re going to need an ice bucket with a strong handle, an ice scoop, and of course the ice-holding bin (AKA ice well) that will keep your ice cold all day long.

Never let the handle of your ice cube touch the eyes. That’s a health code violation and pretty gross.

It’s generally recommended that stainless steel tools are best for ice products. A part from plastic ice buckets, of course.


I know I know we’re not in the kitchen but you’re still going to need tongs so you can grab garnishes, fresh fruit, and other materials without getting your nasty germs all over people’s drinks. Plus tongs look rather cool when you use them right. It’s called style okay? Ever heard of it? 

Bottle Opener

Beer bottles are almost impossible to open and you have a bottle opener, you’re going to need one of those.

Speed Opener

The best bottle openers are speed openers. These flat stainless steel tools allow you to slip them into your pocket and bring them out rather quickly making them efficient AF.

Paring Knife

Yes, I know you didn’t sign up for a prep cook position but again behind the bar, you will need kitchen tools like a paring knife so you can cut garnishes. A good paring knife is a bartender’s best friend. A dull paring knife is a bartender’s worst enemy. Sharpen your knife and cut sexy fruit.


Peelers, also of the stainless steel family, are used to peel the rind from fruit.  This is how bartenders get really good-looking orange peel garnishes for drinks like the old-fashioned. A nicely peeled rind will also give you a zest of oil to add to your drink’s rim for a pleasurable mouth experience.

Cutting Board

You got to have something to cut fruit on. To the cutting board, we go!


A juicer is particularly handy when you’re batching bulk recipes like Bloody Marys and other specialty cocktails.

Essential Bartender Tools for Cocktail Recipes, Sommeliers, and Mixologists

Boston Shaker, Shaker Tin, Cocktail Shaker

A Boston Shaker, a cocktail shaker, a shaker tin– all of these words are used to describe the stainless steel shaker that’s used to do exactly that… shake cocktails together.

Hawthorne Strainer

One of my favorite tools that we use as bartenders is a Hawthorne Strainer. This staple tool holds back large solids you used for mixing from getting into your service glass, like used ice or chunks of fruit.

Julep Strainer

Designated for mint julep serving and drinking; to hold the ice back.

Cocktail Strainer

A cocktail strainer is usually a fine-mesh strainer that is used to get smaller solids out of a drink recipe like muddled fruit.

Corkscrew and/or Wine Key

The quickest way to look like a baby bartender is to mess up the wine key. A wine key is a Corkscrew-looking thing and it is essentially a wine opener. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to open up a quart bottle of wine.

For a quick tutorial, speed to 2:05 on this video. But stay and watch the whole thing to get a fast intro to the proper service of wine. 

Measuring Cup

Measuring cups are usually used for batching recipes.


Those who are fans of free pours, be warned. The Jigger is a tool that measures the amount of liquid you’re putting into a drink recipe. They’re mostly used for standardizing drink recipes and ensuring that alcohol is not being overpoured.

There is a dilemma in the cocktail world that bartenders should be able to free pour. But it is a skill that should be learned and mastered before attempting it. It can result in a loss of Revenue. And your liquor license if someone gets hurt.


There are tons of glasses you need. Not only do you need serving glassware, but you also need mixing glasses too!

Don’t overlook the glassware, especially for an event. And you might be asking why wasn’t this listed with obvious bar tools. I have worked so many events and at so many bars where we run out of glassware, it’s commonly overlooked by lots of managers. Make sure you have enough glassware on hand and even more in stock somewhere else in case someone breaks a whole rack or two. Yes, it’s happened. 


Syrups, Pourers, and Spouts

You often work with sweetening syrups and a lot of liquids that need to be poured. For that, you’ll need stainless steel sprouts, pourers, and jugs. Often called ‘Store ‘n Pours’.

Some folks prefer stainless steel spouts. No one likes a rusty drink! Unless it’s a Rusty Nail!

Bar spoon

Bar spoons are designed to be spun in a bartender’s fingers perfectly. Bar spoons are also used for measuring layering drinks and for flair bartending tricks.

Muddler or Crusher

A muddler is a stainless steel or wooden bar tool with a rounded end for your hand and a slightly spiky flat end. This is used to muddle or crush food and other ingredients, like herbs that are being used in drink recipes.

Bar Tools FAQ

  • What do you consider the most essential tools for a bartender?

    Our instructors have nailed this down to three things: a jigger, ice, and glassware.

  • What tools do you need to make drinks?

You need, surprisingly, quite a few tools to make proper cocktail recipes. Shaker tins, jiggers, bar spoons, and Hawthorne Strainers are just naming a handful.

  • What accessories are needed for a bar?

    Don’t forget things like coasters, straws, and skewers! 

  • What items are needed to make drinks?

    Ingredients, glassware, and bartending tools like bar spoons, blenders, and muddlers.

  • What do you think is the most important thing for a bartender to have?

    In terms of bartending tools, we have to say glassware. In other terms, a good attitude! 

Local Bartending School Gives You The Tools for a Promising Bar Career! (Literally)

A lot of these tools you can grab from Amazon. But a lot of your fellow bartenders, bar owners, and masters of the craft have taken a lot of time to make the perfect tools for you. Don’t forget to check out other small, local shops, too.

You have to have tools to practice (and use later on). We get it. This is why LBS gives every student who enrolls in in-person lessons receives a FREE tool kit. On the house, folks.

But if you have the tools and still need some help, that’s where we come into play! Local Bartending School’s instructors can show you exactly how to use these bartending tools and even help you find your next job to use them. 

Bar owners, if you have a team of staff that doesn’t know a jigger from a Hawthorne strainer, you might have a problem. And we have the solution. With a few training sessions under your belt, your team will be performing like a corporate team!

Carrie Jean Lipe

Carrie Lipe has been writing creatively since childhood but jump-started her professional writing after college. She's an Indiana native, Ball State Hospitality graduate, and a bartender with over 10+ years in the industry. You can find her making basil Moscow mules when she's not writing. Follow her professional journey on Instagram! @contentbycarriejean