Craft Perfect Cocktails at Home

However you like your drink—shaken, stirred, straight up, or even zero-proof—it’s important to use the right tools and techniques.

With many restaurants and bars closed or offering limited services, it’s probably been a while since you had a really well-made cocktail. The good news is that you don’t have to wait for your corner bar to open up again. You can make your favorite drinks right at home. We’ve collected everything that you need to set up a bar at home or enhance the one you’ve already started. Our team has tested cocktail shakers, muddlers, jiggers, Hawthorne strainers, barspoons, and more to find the very best cocktail-making equipment. With our winning equipment, you’ll be whipping up your favorite cocktails at home like a pro. —Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

This small, inexpensive plastic beaker has bold, clearly marked lines and numbers that can be read from above; a single wide mouth made it a breeze to fill, and a tiny spout ensured a clean pour every time. In addition to the ounce lines you'll need for making cocktails, the beaker also has volume lines for tablespoons, fractions of a cup, and milliliters, so you can use it to measure liquids in the kitchen as well. Better still, the lines are positioned in such a way that no one set of measurements obscures another, making each set equally easy to read and use.  More on this test

This classic model was accurate and had bold, easy-to-read measurement lines that clearly corresponded to specific numbers. The handle, though small, was smooth and wide enough to be comfortable. We also liked that the glass resisted staining and was durable. Our one criticism: Using the cup properly requires crouching down and looking at the lines at eye level, which was uncomfortable for some. 

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Our winning spoons had a simple design that allowed for a continuous, bump-free sweep, with a ball-chain connector (similar to what military dog tags hang on) that was easy to open and close. This set's metal construction felt remarkably sturdy, and ingredients didn't cling to the stainless steel. And while the 1-tablespoon measure did not fit into all spice jars, it was a minor inconvenience for an otherwise easy-to-use set.

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Our kid testers liked our longtime favorite peeler for all the same reasons we love it. The sharp blade peeled each type of produce with ease; a kid tester described it as “a miracle.” The handle is flat and wide with rounded edges, and children found it easy and comfortable to hold. Due to the sharpness of the blade and how quickly it moves around food, we think this model is best for older kids who have prior cooking experience. As one 11-year-old tester said, “I am totally comfortable using it, but I have a lot of knife experience.”

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Distinct from citrus presses that use small holes, this model features a star-like arrangement of large draining slots, which direct the juice in a steady stream with no splattering or overflowing. Its large, rounded handles were easy to squeeze for testers of all sizes, which helped this press quickly extract far more juice than any other model. Its roomy bowl could also accommodate up to medium-size oranges (but not large ones).

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The longest model in our lineup, this double-headed muddler stood tall in vessels of all sizes. With a moderate weight and a large, smooth head, this model quickly and efficiently muddled everything under it, making great drinks. Testers liked that it also had a second, smaller head, which was handy for maneuvering in narrow vessels or for making a second drink without having to wash the muddler. Made of unvarnished wood with indentations cut into it, this model was particularly easy to grip, even when wet. And although the wood stained slightly after its overnight cocktail bath, the muddler was otherwise quite durable.

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This inexpensive sealer attaches with an easy one-handed motion and an affirming click. Wine saved with it was just as fresh as a newly opened bottle for two full days (a full week if left undisturbed) and still drinkable on day three, thanks to its protruding plug and a secure closure that combined to make the best seal. Once on, it was almost flat against the top of the bottle and fit easily in the fridge.

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This squat but surprisingly roomy cobbler shaker was leakproof and easy to use: Simply twist on a strainer and snap on a domed top, which doubles as a 1- and 2-ounce jigger. (The silicone top faded a bit after 10 washes but sealed just fine.) While the thin metal cup got cold during use, its carafe-like shape made it fairly comfortable for testers of all hand sizes to grip. The cup’s wide mouth allowed for effortless filling, muddling, and cleaning; a reamer attachment was a nice frill.

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With a little practice, this large Boston shaker was simple and comfortable to handle. The wide mouth and medium height of the sturdy, tempered mixing glass made for quick filling, stirring, muddling, and cleaning. And the glass itself sat low in the larger cup, making it especially easy to form and maintain a long-lasting seal. Our only gripe? The thin metal cup got fairly cold during use. Available at TheBostonShaker.com

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With four removable freezable ice packs buffered by a 1/2-inch-thick zone of air, this wine cooler did a superb job of keeping wine cold, taking a whopping 7 hours to allow the wine’s temperature to rise 10 degrees. And it maintained the wine’s temperature within a single degree for an average of 5 hours. One minor caveat: The inserts must be completely frozen before they can be used, or the cooler won’t be as effective.

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Once you get the hang of lowering the food-safe latex balloon into the bottle and inflating it just above the leftover wine’s surface, this budget-friendly device effectively seals off air, preserving wine’s drinkability for at least one month (we are continuing to test). A downside: You can seal only one bottle at a time. Balloons are guaranteed for 80 uses; replacement balloons cost about $4.

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"I'm an equal-opportunity drinker: I believe that there's a time and place for every beverage, high and low. The holidays, though, are for wine. I might make a little milk punch or sip some bourbon after dinner, but wine is the only real option for the rich, leisurely family meals we eat between Christmas and New Year's. Over the holidays, many bottles will be opened and compared; as the cook, I get to keep any leftovers. But (of course) you can't drink wine without opening it. My very knowledgeable uncle prefers to use an older model of our favorite twist corkscrew, the Le Creuset Table Model Corkpull, but as a former bartender, I live and die by a waiter's corkscrew similar to our favorite, the Pulltap's Classic Evolution Corkscrew by Pulltex." -MB

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This new blender from Breville improves upon its predecessor in a few key ways. It’s more powerful, so it can get smoothies and almond butter even smoother, and it has a dedicated “green smoothie” button that completely blends fibrous ingredients into a silky smooth drink. It’s reasonably quiet and reasonably compact, and combined its ingredients efficiently with minimal pauses to scrape down the sides. Like the previous model, it still automatically stops every 60 seconds, which can be a little annoying during longer blends, but this wasn’t that big of an issue. Its timer makes tracking recipe stages very easy.

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With a hard plastic frame and lid enclosing a silicone ice cube tray, this model was easy to transport to the freezer without spilling and made excellent ice cubes that were clean and straight-edged. The frame and lid also helped reduce freezer and coffee odors; while the silicone tray did smell slightly after a week, the problem was less pronounced than in several other models. Relatively compact, it’ll fit in most freezers.  More on this test

This clear ice maker made the prettiest ice cubes: sparkling, perfectly cube-shaped, and completely transparent. Its insulated plastic frame makes it easy to transport to the freezer and helps protect the silicone tray inside against freezer and coffee odors somewhat. But it’s pricey and it requires a large chunk of freezer space. Plus, it can be a bit tricky to pry the silicone ice tray out of its insulated frame; we often needed to chisel four “unclear” cubes off the bottom of the tray before we were able to get the clear ice out.

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The two ice sphere molds in this set were a little finicky to fill, requiring us to pour water through a relatively small hole in the molds’ top hemispheres. But their hard plastic shells were compact and stackable, so they were easy to transport and fit into small niches in the freezer. While the silicone hemispheres that form the ice do pick up some freezer and coffee odor, they make for particularly easy ice removal: Just push on the silicone bottom and the sphere pops right out. As with the other sphere molds, you won’t get perfectly round ice—the spheres look a little like cute ringed planets with small bumps on top.

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