Skip to main content
Menu
Search
Menu
Close

Barspoons

Published August 2020

How we tested

A barspoon is an essential tool for making cocktails. With a relatively long handle and a small, slender bowl, it’s designed for stirring drinks in tall shakers and for fishing garnishes such as olives and cherries out of their jars. Occasionally it’s used to crack ice or to make layered cocktails (drinks with different spirits carefully poured in discrete layers, creating a striped effect). Some barspoons come with an additional tool on their opposite ends, such as a small, thick disk for muddling fruit or a miniature fork for spearing garnishes instead of scooping them out. 

We’d never tested barspoons before, so we bought eight models, priced from about $4 to about $23, and used them to stir drinks in shakers of different heights, retrieve cherries and olives from their jars, and make layered cocktails. We also tried the other ends of the spoons, where applicable, using them to muddle and spear ingredients.

Spoon Length Is Important

All the spoons did a fine job of stirring the drinks, but a few factors made certain models easier to use. Right off the bat, we discovered that the length of the spoon was critical. Of the spoons we tested, we preferred those that measured from 10.5 to 12.25 inches long. Once inserted into our favorite shakers, the handles of these spoons rose about 4 to 6 inches above the rims, providing plenty of room for even large hands to hold them without feeling cramped. Measuring nearly 16 inches, one particularly long spoon made it feel as if we were stirring our drinks with the proverbial 10-foot pole. Unless we choked up on the handle to get closer to the bowl of the spoon, it was hard to muster any control over the ice we were trying to agitate—never mind retrieve olives or cherries from their jars. Spoons of a more moderate length were easier to hold and control. 

Twisted Handles Are Best

The style of the spoon handle was also important. Handles that were straight and smooth—similar to the ones on soupspoons—proved more slippery and harder to grasp, especially when wet. We much preferred models that had twisted handles, as they provided a little more surface area to grab onto as we stirred. Of the models with twisted handles, we liked those that were twisted from top to bottom because they let us choose where we wanted to put our hands; models that were twisted only in the middle of the handle limited our grip options.

The Size and Angle of the Bowl Matter

Finally, we considered the bowl of the spoon—the part that actually agitates the ice. When it came to stirring the drinks, we had a slight preference for spoons with medium-size bowls. Bowls that measured about an inch at their widest diameter offered the best compromise: They provided just enough surface area to push even larger pieces of ice confidently while still moving nimbly around the tight confines of the shakers. These bowls were also big enough to hold olives and cherries and securely transfer them from their jars to finished drinks. The one spoon with an especially small bowl provided a little less surface area for moving the ice around and had a harder time fishing out garnishes. By contrast, spoons with larger bowls held garnishes comfortably but felt a little oversize and clumsy when maneuvering around narrow jars or shaker bottoms. This was especially true of the spoon with the biggest bowl; because the bowl was so deep and steeply angled from the handle, it almost scooped up the ice as we tried to stir; we had to tilt our hands uncomfortably to keep the bowl parallel to the ice. 

Spoons with larger bowls did have one small advantage, though: They made it easier to produce layered drinks, since their broader surfaces provided bigger targets for us to gently pour liquor onto. You’ll have to be a little more careful when pouring liquor onto the back of a medium- or smaller-bowled spoon, though it can certainly be done. Since few users are likely to make layered drinks at home, though, we think most are better off with a spoon that has a slightly smaller bowl. 

Extra Tools Are Unnecessary

By and large, the extra tools that were sometimes added to the ends opposite the bowls weren’t very useful. The dime-size muddlers on two of the spoons simply weren’t big enough to muddle lime or mint efficiently, and their sharp metal edges often dug unpleasantly into the lime skin, releasing oils from the bitter pith instead of pounding the limes properly. We didn’t like the fork on the end of one spoon either; we’d rather remove an olive whole from the jar, not spear it and leave unsightly gouges. And some testers didn’t feel totally comfortable having sharp points facing up at them as they stirred. That said, the extra tools didn’t have any effect on the spoons’ performances.

The Best Barspoon: Cocktail Kingdom Teardrop Barspoon

You can’t go wrong with most of the barspoons we tested, but our favorite is the Cocktail Kingdom Teardrop Barspoon. It has a moderately long handle that’s twisted from top to bottom, making it easy to grip, and a medium-size bowl that commands ice nicely and retrieves garnishes well.

Methodology

  • Test eight barspoons, priced from about $4 to about $23
  • Stir cocktails in winning Boston and cobbler shakers
  • Retrieve and transfer olives and cherries from jars
  • Make layered drinks
  • Perform additional tasks, where applicable (muddling, spearing, etc.)

Rating Criteria

Performance: We evaluated how well the spoons stirred and layered drinks.

Ease of Use: We considered how easy the spoons were to hold and rotate and how securely they retrieved garnishes.

3 Sites. No Paywalls.

Included in your trial membership

  • 25 years of Cook's Illustrated, Cook's Country, and America's Test Kitchen foolproof recipes
  • NEW! Over 1,500 recipes from our award-winning cookbooks
  • In-depth videos of recipes and cooking techniques
  • SAVE all your Favorites for easy access
  • Up-to-Date reviews and product buying guides

Get America's Test Kitchen All Access — become the Smartest Cook you know, guaranteed.

Email is required
How we use your email address

The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*