Equip your home cocktail bar, then get shaking our favourite cocktail recipes, then explore our guides to the best cocktail glasses, best reusable ice cubes and cocktail ice cubes, whisky glasses and best gifts for gin lovers. We also have our drinks trend predictions for 2023, expert bartender tips for mastering cocktails at home and the olive podcast on the 10 things you need to know about cocktails at home.


When it comes to making cocktails it's easy to feel intimidated by the complicated-looking kit. While some of it is unnecessary or superfluous – ordinary kitchen items often do just as good a job – there are some key pieces that will make mixing up drinks at home a cinch. Here's our list of must-haves.

Cocktail shakers

The most important bit of kit for your home bar, a good cocktail shaker will let you whip up cocktails with ease. There are two types to choose from. A cobbler shaker consists of a metal tin, a lid with a built-in strainer, and a cap. It's a great choice for beginners because cobbler shakers are widely available, easy to use and look great. They're also handy if you don't want to buy too many other accessories. The cap of the shaker usually equates to one measure of spirits so negates the need for a jigger (details below), and the built-in strainer means you don't have to buy separate ones. One thing to bear in mind is that cobbler shakers can sometimes leak, and the lid can freeze shut when the shaker is filled with ice, making it hard to remove.

A boston shaker is made up of two cups that fit together for a watertight seal. It's less likely to leak, quick to use and often comes in larger sizes, so great if you're planning to make cocktails for a crowd. The cons are that it can take practice to master sealing and unsealing the shaker, and you will need to buy separate strainers as well.

VonShef Manhattan silver cocktail set

VonShef cocktail shaker set

This wallet-friendly set from VonShef contains everything you need to get started: a cobbler shaker, plus a muddler, spoon, jigger and strainer, to make all styles of cocktails.

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Available from:
VonHaus (£17.99)

Professional Boston cocktail shaker


With stainless steel, robust thick glass and a reinforced base, this durable piece of kit is easy to use and on the larger size, so perfect for parties.

Available from:
Amazon (£8.95)

Georg Jensen cocktail shaker set

A Georg Jensen cocktail shaker set with a mixing spoon

If you’re going to invest in just one piece of cocktail kit let it be this sleek silvery set, which will look as good on your shelves as it will being used. Equipped with a mixing spoon and jigger, it’s just the ticket for whipping up your evening cocktail in style.

Available from:
John Lewis (£182)

Cocktail strainers

A good strainer is a must for cocktails, especially if you have a boston shaker, as it strains out solids such as ice, fruit and other items when pouring the finished cocktail into a glass.

There are three types to consider. A hawthorne strainer is a flat perforated metal plate fitted with a metal coil. The latter is what makes this the most versatile of strainers as it will easily adapt to snugly fit most shakers and mixing glasses, making it easy to use. It is, however, hard to clean and more prone to breakage. A julep strainer resembles a perforated spoon and is inserted into the glass at an angle as you pour. It's slightly trickier to use than a hawthorne strainer and will strain liquids more slowly, but it is more durable. Finally, a fine mesh strainer is used alongside another strainer to double strain a cocktail. This is done by fitting it over the glass while you pour from a shaker fitted with another strainer. It's good for cocktails that need extra clarity, or for an extra-smooth texture.

John Lewis cocktail strainer

A silver coloured cocktail strainer

Perfect if you want an easy-to-use strainer that will happily fit a variety of glasses and shakers.

Available from:
John Lewis (£4.50)

Barfly scalloped julep strainer


We love the pretty design of this classic julep strainer - available in black, gold, copper or silver.

Available from:
Amazon (£13.50)

Matilda Goad & Co bar tools set

Bar tools set

This nifty, colourful bar tool set can live on your kitchen counter or drinks cabinet, ready for cocktails. With a bottle opener, strainer, jigger and knife, it’s got everything you need for whipping up speedy drinks.

Available from:
Anthropologie (£88)


Another essential piece of kit, a jigger is a tool for measuring out ingredients such as spirits. It looks like a tiny cup and comes in either 25ml or 50ml measures, or both if you have a double-sided model. It's tempting to free pour cocktails but, when you're starting out, a jigger will give you precision when it comes to measures, essential for cocktails that rely on exact proportions, such as a manhattan or negroni. The one drawback to a traditional jigger is that you have to pour liquid right up to the rim, and it's easy to overshoot and spill. You could opt for a small angled measuring cup which has measurement markings inside – this is also useful for when recipes call for smaller quantities than 25ml or 50ml.

Mezclar stainless steel jigger

A silver jigger

This nifty number is double sided so you can do both single and double measures for cocktails.

Available from:
Harvey Nichols (£9)

OXO steel angled measuring jigger

A silver measuring jigger

This handy jigger comes with measurements inside so you can mix up cocktails with extra precision.

Available from:
Amazon (£10)
Harts of Stur (£8.50)

Bar spoons, muddlers, mixing glasses and speed pourers

These items are useful but by no means essential as they can be swapped out with everyday kitchen utensils. However, if you've mastered the basics of cocktail-making and want to invest in more kit then these pieces could streamline the process.

A bar spoon is a long-handled spoon for stirring together cocktails in tall mixing glasses and shakers. If you don't have one then a chopstick works just as well. A muddler is a tool similar to a pestle, and is used for gently crushing together ingredients such as fruit and herbs – essential for a cocktail like a mojito. You can also use a rolling pin for this, or the back of a tablespoon.

A mixing glass usually comes with a boston shaker but in general it's a vessel with a wide top and straight sides that you use for cocktails that need to be stirred. If you don't have one then any vessel that can hold at least 500-600ml worth of liquid will do.

Finally, a speed or bottle pourer is a stainless steel or plastic spout inserted into a bottle that lets you pour liquids with speed and precision. It's a common feature in bars but if you're making batches of drinks for a gathering or party then this would be a great way to speed everything up

Cocktail spoon

a silver bar spoon

This elegant spoon has a flat disc at the end – perfect for mashing or crushing ingredients in a glass.

Available from:
John Lewis (£4.50)

Riedel Bar mixing glass

Mixing glass filled with ice and liquid

We love the vintage stylings of this pretty mixing glass – a classy way to stir up evening martinis.

Available from:
Harvey Nichols (£35)

Spirit pourer

Two spirit pourers

Attach to the bottles you use most frequently for extra efficiency at parties.

Available from:
Amazon (£7.25, set of 2)

ProCook muddler

ProCook muddler

Crush mint for a julep or wedges of citrus to release their juice and fragrant oils in the base of your cocktail with this handy muddler.

Available from:
ProCook (£7.95)

More cocktail accessories

Final Touch silicone ice ball moulds

Silicone ice cube moulds

Large ice cubes melt more slowly, meaning they won't quickly dilute your cocktail. These silicone moulds help you easily make bartender-worthy smooth round ice cubes.

Available from:
John Lewis (£12)

Rainbow lacquered ice bucket


An ice bucket is a surprisingly useful addition to your home bar, saving endless trips to the freezer at parties. This gorgeous investment lacquered piece will add a cheerful dash of colour to your next gathering.

Available from:
Matilda Goad (£320)

KitchenAid K400 blender

A cream and glass blender

Blenders are great for drinks such as piña coladas and frozen margaritas but you can also use them for other shaken cocktails – they're especially useful for making big batches of drinks. Just be sparing with ice – you want just enough to chill and dilute the drink but not so much that you turn the cocktail into a slushy-style creation.

Available from:
Lakeland (£299.99)

Uberstar Hex whisky stones

Uberstar whisky stones

To avoid any dilution of your drink, these whisky stones can be kept in the freezer before adding to your drink. Perfect for when sipping spirits neat or for spirit-forward cocktails.

Available from:
John Lewis (£17)


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Hannah Guinness olive magazine portrait
Hannah GuinnessSenior sub editor and drinks writer

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