Gadgets and Gear to Use Behind the Bar

Let’s raise a glass to our first-ever cocktail book! This handsome guide includes both classics and new test kitchen creations, and all the techniques you need to make them at home.

Before you get behind the bar, you’ll need a few pieces of equipment. There are two kinds of cocktail shakers. Our favorite Boston shaker, which looks like the ones the pros use, is super simple to assemble and comfortable to hold. Our top-rated cobbler-style shaker is great for novices, thanks to its screw-on strainer and leakproof cap. With our newly published book, How to Cocktail, and our favorite barware, you’re ready to muddle, shake, stir, and blend your way to professional-quality cocktails at home!

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.   More on this test

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.  More on this test

This knife was “superadept”; its sharp, flexible blade nimbly hugged curves, so we could surgically remove peels or cores without plunging too deeply. It was the lightest knife we tested, with a slim handle that a few testers found insubstantial but most praised for its ability to disappear in your palm and become an extension of your hand: “There’s no disconnect between my brain and the blade.”  More on this test

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).   More on this test

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.  More on this test

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.   More on this test

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.  More on this test

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  More on this test

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.  More on this test

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.  More on this test

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.  More on this test