4. Muddler. A mini-baseball bat, usually made from hardwood, that’s used to muddle, or crush, ingredients – like sugar or fresh herbs. There very inexpensive, and essential to cocktails like the Old-Fashioned, the mojito, the mint julep, and the caipirinha.
5. Measuring Tools. Cocktails are not made to get you messed up. They’re intended to be enjoyed, and that means they must be balanced. So, you’ve got to watch your proportions. The standard tool for measuring spirits and other materials is a double-sided jigger, which comes in various sizes, the most popular being a jigger (1 1/2 fl. oz) and a pony ( 1 oz.). I find these dudes terribly messy to use, so I suggest a smalled angled measuring cup with a pour spout, as they give you some breathing room as you move from the counter to the glass. A straight-sided gradiated measuring cup will also come in handing for punches, pitchers, etc.
6. Zester/Channel knife combo Spirits love citrus, both the juice and the essential-oil filled zest, the flavorful colored part of the peel. To obtain these, a zester containing small circular blades is drawn across the surface. Look for a zester that also contains a channel knife, which cuts thicker, long slices for twists.
7. Waiter’s corkscrew. My mom and her friends give each other these fancy wine corkscrew sets that promise to be super easy to use and cost unbelivable amounts of money. Here’s the deal: you don’t need one. Never spend more than ten dollars. Promise me. Head to your local restaurant supply store or wine shop and pick up a double-hinged waiters corkscrew for $6.99. These dudes are magical: the contain a knife to cut the foil, a fool proof cork screw, and a two-level lever system that makes pulling a cork out with one hand a snap.
8. Citrus juicer/squeezer. Once you’ve used one of these, you’ll never go back. An enameled aluminum citrus juicer holds a lemon or lime half between its jaws an presses the dear life out of it…and into your drink! The hinged models are preferable to a reamer as they don’t rip up the flesh of the juice, and the keep any seeds inside. Plus, these things make fresh lemon- and limeade such a snap that you’ll no longer be able to stand the stuff from concentrate.
9. Paring knife and cutting board. You gotta get those garnishes into portions some how, and nothing’s better than a paring knife and a place to use it.
10. Bar towels. When your messing with lots and lots of liquids, especially those that impair motor functions, a bit will end up outside the glass. Keep a damp and a dry towel handy. These also make a great place to stir drinks, as the added friction will help keep your mixing glass secure.
Don’t forget – we’re gonna give away everything on the list, plus A LOT more the last week of May. Stay tuned here.