13 Essential Tools and Accessories for Your Home Bar

Especially over the past few years, my husband and I have taken time to seriously develop our bar area at home.

From watching documentaries to visiting historic drinking cities to listening to cocktail podcasts to reading books to developing a digital drinking diary, we have grown to love and respect the craft of making cocktails.

Starting from our younger decades of pregaming with spiced rum shots or wheat beer six-packs with our college buddies who brought the booze to the dorm room before going out for the night, we haven’t forgotten our past of cheap and convenient imbibing rituals.

But we have certainly matured from those earlier years!

Mixologist pouring an alcoholic drink in a cup while watching an instructional video on phone at home.

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We adore going out for dinner and drinks equally as much as cooking a meal at home, alongside pouring some organic orange wine or experimenting with a new cocktail recipe. And we find it exciting to be able to share the fun with others during larger parties or intimate gatherings.

And as we have learned, enjoying a classy stirred cocktail or cracking open a beer wine takes research and effort well before the first sip – and that includes owning the right accessories!

After doing some research together, we have crafted what we believe is the perfect list of basic essentials for a wet or dry bar at home.

If you also enjoy a good drink – whether alcoholic or nonalcoholic – or at least host a fair amount of entertaining, consider purchasing these bar necessities.

These recommendations represent all the basics you’ll want to have in order to prepare most shaken and stirred drinks, as well as to serve beverages straight like wine.

Use our suggestions to supply the home bar of your dreams!

1. Ice Cube Tray

What would you say is one of the most undervalued ingredients in a cocktail or drink?

If you ask us, it’s ice!

Ice actually plays an incredibly important role in the creation of your beverage – offering essential dilution and temperature control.

Nax Caki Large Ice Cube Silicone Tray with Lid

While ice is in and of itself a serious topic of intense discussion, opinion, and research in the professional mixology world, it is a more forgiving subject for the home bartender who may not have the means or time to make and buy different styles of ice for every kind of drink.

With that said, there is still one critical accessory we recommend you purchase that will be of multi-use value to you when it comes to ice.

And that’s the 2-inch ice cube mold!

This size of ice cube can be used for multiple tasks essential to the home bartender:

Use it for shaking drinks in a shaker, for stirring drinks in a mixing glass, and serving drinks on the rocks.

The larger size allows the ice cube to melt more slowly compared to your typical ice cube mold size, which gives you more control of dilution as you prepare and when you enjoy your beverage.

You’ll like the Nax Caki Large Ice Cube Tray, available now from Amazon.

Made of silicone, there are six, 2-inch square compartments. The waterline designs on the tops of the dividers prevent overfilling for easy release. And the included lid protects the ice, keeping food odors out and creating a flat, stackable surface.

2. Vegetable Peeler

While you probably already have one – or two, or three – vegetable peelers in your kitchen, we think it’s important to set aside one specifically for your wet or dry bar.

Creating that distinction between your kitchen prep tools and your bartending tools garners a more respected viewpoint of an established bar area in your home, and keeps another section of your home well-organized.

Image of the OXO Good Grips Y kitchen tool.

OXO Good Grips Y Vegetable Peeler 21081

A vegetable peeler in the bar world is useful mainly for creating citrus peels for garnishes, a common final touch for many cocktails.

A Y-shaped peeler with a shape blade, one that isn’t serrated, will quickly and cleanly remove the peel without butchering the fruit or removing too much of the bitter pith directly underneath the skin.

You can check out all of our top seven peelers in our complete review, but we’ll give you a quick preview here with one of our favorite Y-shaped peelers perfect for prepping citrus.

Buy the OXO Good Grips Y 21081 directly from OXO, as well as from Amazon or Sur La Table.

The handle design is built for ease and comfort of use. With the extra space between the blade and the handle, the Y design helps skins slip away easily, preventing a pileup from jamming the gadget.

3. Citrus Juicer

A handheld citrus juicer is the perfect gadget for easily making freshly squeezed juices.

Many cocktails rely on acid to balance the other components in a cocktail recipe, and you’ll find that the ingredient of acid is often in the form of fresh citrus juice.

And we mean fresh – there is nothing worse for a homemade craft cocktail than poor-quality ingredients!

Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer 102-159-017

Don’t go near the pre-bottled, pre-squeezed juices found at the grocery store. While there are some decent, all-natural options for orange juice, we have learned from experience that nothing really can replace the taste and quality of freshly squeezed limes and lemons.

Squeezing solely by hand is an inefficient method, as you won’t be able to extract all of the juice, and you risk getting seeds in the juice. And unless you’re constantly making fruit juices in your household on a daily basis, you also don’t need to splurge on a full-sized juicer.

All you need is a durable handheld citrus juicer!

We have been using the Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer 102-159-017 for the past year for both lemons and limes, and have really enjoyed its superior durability and impressive juicing power. And it helps that it’s also dishwasher safe on the top rack!

You can buy yours now from Wayfair or Amazon.

4. Bottle Openers

Bottle openers are precious, must-have tools for your home!

You should own a couple different styles, one for opening bottles of beer/soda and one for opening bottles of wine.

Bottle Opener for Beer

Choosing a model for opening beer and soda bottles is an easy decision to make, with two virtually universal and inexpensive styles of either a pop-top or a twist-top opener.

Image of the OXO dual bottle opener.

OXO Die-Cast Bottle Opener

You’ll be more than pleased with OXO’S Die-Cast Bottle Opener, which can open both pop-top and twist-top bottles. Purchase this model directly from OXO, as well as from Amazon and Sur La Table.

Wine Opener

Purchasing a wine opener is not as simple… but we can help keep all the options organized for you!

There are four main types of wine openers to purchase: double hinged, twist, lever, and electric.

OXO Double Lever Waiter’s Tool

OXO Double Lever Waiter’s Corkscrew

What option you choose depends on a multitude of factors, such as the age and varietal of the wine, type of cork, ease of use, and your own hand strength.

Our guide detailing these four styles will explain everything you need to know to find exactly the right one to fit your personal needs. And we also have an article on our top 13 choices currently available on the market.

A personal favorite is OXO’s Double Lever Waiter’s Corkscrew, with a soft, non-slip silicone grip and smooth-edged foil cutter.

It’s available from Sur La Table and Amazon, or you can purchase it directly from OXO.

So take the time to consider your options, and determine what will best work for your bartending lifestyle at home.

5. Muddler

A muddler is another cool tool for the cocktail maker.

You use a muddler to quickly break down whole ingredients such as herbs and fruit, releasing more of their liquids and/or essential oils into the cocktail.

Mojitos, anyone?

A Bar Above Plastic Muddler, black

We’re not the biggest fans of muddlers with a spiked end, as these excessively shred herbs and fruit and get bits and pieces stuck in between the spikes – not fun to clean!

Delicate herbs and fruits don’t need too much applied pressure in order to sufficiently release their liquid and oils, or a garish-looking device to get the job done – a simple design with a flat end will do the trick.

We also go for plastic over wood, since the plastic material will be easier to clean and maintain.

Buy one of A Bar Above’s black plastic muddlers to help you delicately, yet effectively, crush ingredients. It’s also dishwasher safe, but it’s just as easy to clean by hand.

You can find it now from Amazon.

6. Jigger

Many experienced bartenders, both work professionals and home amateurs, use a measuring tool called a jigger to more accurately measure liquids for cocktails.

Eye-balling the amounts is often saved for the most confident of the mixologists – and I’m certainly not among them!

If you’re a big cocktail drinker, seriously consider adding this small, handheld tool to your collection.

Briout Stainless Steel Double Cocktail Jigger

As with many of our other accessories on this list, there are a few different styles available to buy.

You can choose one you like based on style preferences, but I suggest going for one of the double-sided options that have additional sub-measurements etched into the interior of the jigger.

That way, you’ll have an even clearer understanding of how much you are measuring for your recipe, with absolutely no second-guessing!

The standard double-sided option measures a one-ounce pour on one side, and a two-ounce pour on the other.

Available from Amazon, the Briout Double Cocktail Jigger will be the tool of your dreams, manufactured with 18/8 stainless steel and featuring internal measurements.

7. Shaker

In order to expertly make a shaken cocktail, you need… a shaker!

Vertical image of a man pouring out liquid into a clear cup on a counter next to ingredients.

Using a shaker is the most effective and cleanest method for making a shaken drink. And once you’ve mastered the technique, it’s really fun to use in front of an audience.

The movement! The flair! The noise!

While there are a few different styles of shakers, I recommend a classic cobbler shaker for beginners. The cobbler comes in a three-piece set: a shaker, strainer, and lid.

Image of Sur La Table's Classic Shaker.

Sur La Table Classic Shaker

This style is easy to assemble, handle, and operate. It can securely hold all contents, and separates easily.

For a basic model, choose the Classic Shaker from Sur La Table. It’s made of durable stainless steel, and holds 24 ounces.

8. Mixing Glass

If a shaker is the proper device to make shaken drinks, then a mixing glass is the appropriate tool for making stirred drinks!

Our preferred design of mixing vessel is a tall and slender straight-sided vessel with a spout for pouring.

Viski Crystal Cocktail Mixing Glass

The glass material acts as an efficient insulator, holding on to the cold temperature of the liquid and ice inside – this is particularly true when you chill the pitcher prior to crafting your beverage.

Most standard-sized models are designed to fit a Hawthorne strainer around the rim, so you don’t have to worry about messily separating the solids from the drink by hand alone.

A durable option, the Viski Crystal Cocktail Mixing Glass features a thickset base for stability, and a vintage-inspired cut crystal design.

Buy it now from Amazon.

9. Barspoon

There’s one essential tool to accompany your mixing glass – a barspoon!

A barspoon is a long, slender spoon that helps you stir the contents in the mixing pitcher swiftly and fluidly, resulting in a perfectly smooth, expertly diluted cocktail.

Barfly Stainless Steel Teardrop Barspoon, 11.8 inches

You’ll find tons of different styles and lengths of barspoons, and personal preference does play a big role here.

An important consideration is to choose a barspoon with a good weight and counterbalance on the top end of the spoon, which helps you have a more stable grasp and achieve a swift, smooth stir.

Another consideration is to find a barspoon that you feel comfortable holding, and one that is long enough so it doesn’t feel awkward to grasp as you are stirring it.

We like the 11.8-inch stainless steel Barfly Teardrop Barspoon, available from Amazon. Its twisted handle design allows for better grasp and control, and the dual weighted ends help you stir smoothly.

10. Hawthorne Strainer

A Hawthorne strainer is a useful tool to have on your bar, especially if you like making stirred drinks and don’t plan to always use your cobbler shaker when you make cocktails.

It will fit inside the rim of most cocktail mixing glasses and other styles of shakers that don’t have a strainer attachment.

A Bar Above Stainless Steel Hawthorne Strainer

This strainer is designed to keep any big pieces of ice and other larger, solid components in the mixing glass or shaker while allowing all the liquid to strain into the drinking cups.

And the tightly-coiled spring is a signature feature that also helps keep the solids out of your drink as you pour.

Keep in mind that its perforations are not too fine, so smaller ice shards and pulp will be able to pass through the holes.

Purchase A Bar Above’s Hawthorne Strainer in stainless steel – it’s safe to clean in the dishwasher, and its standard size can fit inside most shakers, mixing glasses, and pint glasses. Find it now on Amazon.

11. Conical Fine-Mesh Strainer

Completely different in design from the Hawthorne strainer, a small, conical fine-mesh strainer is an equally important tool to have for your bar.

When you desire an entirely smooth shaken beverage, a Hawthorne strainer won’t be enough to catch smaller food particles, like pulp, pieces of herbs, and tiny ice shards.

Zulay Stainless Steel Cocktail Strainer

When you are pouring your liquid, you’ll need to double strain for the smoothest results. While using your Hawthorne strainer inside the shaker or mixing glass, simultaneously pour the liquid into a conical fine-mesh strainer over the drinkware.

This gives you the smoothest results, without the small annoyance of textural interruptions.

You’ll like the Zulay Stainless Steel Cocktail Strainer – it’s nine inches in length, and is available in a variety of finishes, though we are partial to the classic silver look. Find it now from Amazon.

And definitely choose a conical design, rather than a rounded option!

Why? A conical shape streamlines the direction of the liquid, keeping your pouring neat and clean.

No spills!

12. Glassware

As long as you have a small collection of basic glassware varieties, you’ll be able to serve your carefully made cocktails and thoughtfully purchased bottles of wine or beer with confidence!

Wine Glasses

While you can dive deeply into glassware varieties for all kinds of wine, and we have just the article to help you enhance your favorite wine with the right glassware, it’s smart to start off with a standard design that will be 100% suitable for the majority of wine styles.

This is especially true when you’re only in the beginning stages of building your home bar.

Image of the collection of Schott Zwiesel Vervino All-Purpose Wine Glasses, with one filled.

Schott Zwiesel Vervino All-Purpose Wine Glasses, set of 6

To satisfy a standard wine glass design, go for the Schott Zwiesel Vervino All-Purpose Wine Glass, available in a set of 6 from Sur La Table.

This option will be an appropriate choice to get you started with your wine glassware collection, and you can continue adding to this set as you learn more about what wines you prefer to consume.

For us, it’s also important to see our wine when we drink it to analyze its color and texture – if you agree, don’t buy anything colorful or textured.

The Schott Zwiesel Vervino set is simply designed, which will be much more timeless than a trendy patterned option might prove to be.

Pint Glasses

There is an overwhelming amount of delicious beer brewed locally in so many cities!

If you have developed a taste for a wide range of beers, from chocolatey stouts to super hoppy IPAs to fruity wits, you’ll need pints to serve these glorious creations in.

While we have a collection of mismatched pints from various festivals, breweries, and work promotions, we prefer to use a simple matching set when we entertain guests.

Le’raze 16-ounce Drinking Glasses, set of 10

Yes, there are some very cute pints out there with all kinds of silly and inappropriate quotes written across them, but consider purchasing these simple Le’raze 16-ounce Drinking Glasses. A set of 10 is currently available from Amazon now.

They’re clear glass, and made to the pint standard in the United States. Best of all, they have my favorite attribute when it comes to cleanup after a festive gathering: they’re dishwasher safe!

You can also use these cups for other purposes, not just beer – they’re a smart choice for an assortment of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages like highballs, Bloody Mary’s, soda, juice, iced tea, and plain ol’ water.

Rocks Glasses

Rocks glasses are an important style for, you guessed it, drinks served “on the rocks,” meaning they are served with ice.

But they are also used for drinks served “up,” meaning they are served with no ice, or “neat,” meaning they are served not chilled, and without ice.

Image of Schott Zwiesel Kirkwall Double Old-Fashioned Rocks Glasses, one filled.

Schott Zwiesel Kirkwall Double Old-Fashioned Rocks Glasses, set of 2

In our household, my husband is famous for his old-fashioned cocktails, a common request from many family members during most holiday gatherings – and the rocks glass is the recommended drinkware.

Again, go for something simple and classic here. The color of the beverage is important to the drinking experience, and you can save the flashier accessories after you have a good basic set on hand.

The Schott Zwiesel Kirkwall Double Old-Fashioned Rocks Glasses are perfectly elegant and dishwasher safe, offering a stunning – yet practical – option for displaying your favorite cocktail or splash of liquor. Buy a set of two glasses now from Sur La Table.

Shot Glasses

Although I do prefer a dry martini or wine, a round of shots to get a football game or a celebration started can be exactly what your party needs!

Image of the Schott Zwiesel Paris Shot Glass.

Schott Zwiesel Paris Shot Glasses, set of 6

Having at least a few is essential to your home bar setup, whether for partaking in a swift buzz or taste-testing your newest liquor purchase.

You’ll appreciate the sleek and simple design of Schott Zwiesel’s Paris Shot Glasses, available now from Sur La Table. This collection comes in a set of six, so imbibing with others is expected!

Nick and Nora Glasses

Your go-to stemware for serving classic stirred cocktails like martinis and Manhattans as well as many other Prohibition-era shaken cocktails, a Nick and Nora glass is a timeless design within the coupe-style family of glassware.

Viski Nick and Nora Glasses, set of 2

With its delicate appearance, this style aims to impress in presentation without the overwhelming look or imbalance of an exaggerated wide-rimmed martini glass.

Enjoy showing off your bartending talents in Viski’s Nick and Nora Glasses, available to purchase in a set of two, 6-ounce glasses from Amazon now.

13. Coasters

Our final suggestion in this review, coasters are a considerate accessory to always have in your home!

They are necessary to protect the surfaces of your serving areas as you are relaxing and enjoying your beverages.

With chilled beverages, condensation is always an inevitable consequence, so it’s smart to have them resting on top of a buffer between the glass and your table.

Me.Fan Silicone Coasters, black, set of 6

Small spills can also occur, and coasters can catch anything that drips down from the rim to the bottom.

Choose what fits your home aesthetic – there are endless styles, colors, and materials available all over the web!

From silicone to cork, marble to wood, cloth to slate, make a choice that will bring a smile to your face.

We like coasters that come included with a stand to keep them neat and stacked when they are not in use.

We’re currently loving Me.Fan’s Silicone Coasters with a raised rim for additional protection. Available in different colors, a sleek choice is the black color in a set of six with an included holder. You can buy the set now from Amazon.

The gorgeous grooved pattern doubles as a practical design, holding any spills and preventing leaking.

Start with the Right Setup Before Expanding

Let’s stop here – we can’t keep adding to this list, or it might never end!

Once you have these foundational tools, appliances, and accessories, you can then add to your collection with other items to customize for your own personal desires and styles.

We love all the fun, miscellaneous bar accessories for a variety of entertaining and practical purposes – straws and cocktail picks work with a selection of cocktails, and serve different uses. And umbrellas and swizzle sticks are ideal for tiki drinks.

Mixologist pouring an alcoholic drink in a cup while watching an instructional video on phone at home.

You might also want to consider ice picks, atomizers, dasher bottles for future purchases, once you develop your bartending repertoire and need other tools for specific cocktail-building requirements.

But do begin with the essentials first!

What’s your favorite item in your home wet or dry bar? Anything we missed here? Let us know in the comments below!

And for more recommended items to enhance your drinking enjoyment, read these reviews next:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Amazon, OXO, and Sur La Table. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. Originally published on December 5th, 2014 by Chelsea Miller. Last updated on February 14, 2024.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

15 thoughts on “13 Essential Tools and Accessories for Your Home Bar”

  1. Having a good cork puller makes all the difference in the world. I would gladly pay $100 to have one that pulls the corks out, and is easy to pull the cork off the corkscrew! That seems to be the hardest part for me.

  2. Mason shot glasses are the best thing on this list of must-haves. Aside from being adorable, they are perfect for any wet bar regardless of its size. Everyone can appreciate an occasional shot. I like the variety of glasses you suggested, not too many for even a basic bar. I would suggest better corkscrews however. Those require so much more hand power than is absolutely necessary now. And if your gatherings are like mine, after a while you don’t want to put in that much work all night.

  3. Can’t agree more, the Barbuzzo Mason Jar Shot Glasses Rock!!…i can picture myself taking swigs and sips out of one right about now…awesome, although not alcohol…juice is preferable for me…Amazon here i come with my orders 😉

  4. This is a great beginners guide to bars. I especially appreciated the tip about the Jigger and Hawthorne Strainer- I’d never heard of either of these things before and they sound really useful!

    I do think if you’re serious about having a decent bar you also need a few more types of glasses than those you mentioned. At a minimum, I’d also get some martini glasses, and ideally also some margarita and sherry glasses. Overall though this is a good primer. Thanks again for the tips on the strainer and jigger!

  5. I agree that you need to have the right glasses for different types of drinks. Drinking wine out of, say, a beer glass just feels wrong. Similarly, you couldn’t serve Scotch on the rocks in a wine glass!

  6. Don’t currently have a wet bar. 🙁 It’s definitely something that seems to be enjoyable and knowing what tools and accessories make it more convenient and efficient is great. Thanks for posting.

  7. I keep a couple of decent tumblers stacked in my wet bar. I’m a very avid fan of scotch on the rocks and you need a decent tumbler to hold your drink together.

    Another more exotic thing I have in my bar is one of those ice ball molds that I use to make ice spheres for my scotch or whiskey. These ice spheres are basically better than regular old ice cubes because they melt slower, cool more evenly, and just look more sophisticated overall.

  8. I have pretty much everything on this list except a decanter. I never really found them necessary with the types of bottles I buy. I also have a spinner with four wine glasses that’s adorable but I suppose that’s just a thing one would have at their general home bar & not the wet one. =O

  9. Whiskey stones! Don’t discount whiskey stones as an essential part of your bar. Any whiskey drinker worth his lime salt knows that a rocks glass, whiskey, and ice go together like cheese, bread, and ham. There are just some whiskeys out there that are too nice to water down. If you’ve got a taste to fancy whiskey, and want the full flavor of the drink itself, then get whiskey stones.

    They sit in your freezer until it’s time to drink, and you simply use them like ice. When you’re done, you give them a rinse, put them back in the pouch and back into the freezer they go. No watery scotch!

  10. Oh I have noticed mason jar everything but never the shot glasses how cute! Also as a beer enthusiast I would highly recommend you have at least two sizes of glass a pint one and a regular sized one. That pub beer glass box is perfect for a starter kit, highly suggest picking it up. I myself have been collecting beer glasses for a decade from various stores/breweries.

  11. This is a very informative post. I knew almost nothing at all about bartending or alcohol culture, but now I have some good suggestions for top quality accessories to use. I bet having all of those tools and glasses makes the drinking experience seem more authentic as well.

  12. Wow – you had a lot going on back then. I hope the wedding went well, the house was finished in time and the wet bar is well worn in! I’m partial to a single malt whisky myself, no ice.

  13. Gosh, I’m so jealous! A wet bar is one of my life goals, ha! You do realise, don’t you, that once the bar is in situ, your home will be the social hub for party time!

  14. My husband’s birthday is coming up and these ideas will definitely help me get him an amazing gift. Where did you get the idea for the Mason Jar shot glasses? They are so cute and I don’t know anybody that has them. So they seem to be a perfect and unique gift. Thanks for posting

  15. Choosing the right glassware really does make a big difference. It’s something I didn’t pay a lot of attention to in the past, but it’s true.

    Those Mason jar shot glasses are just too cute. My husband likes the regular sized ones, so I might just have to grab him a set of these as a gift. How fun.


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