Aspiring Bartenders Must Know the Basic Bartending Tools

Yes, bartenders have tools! Shakers, openers, jiggers, blenders, strainers, knives, etc. Tools are for a bartender’s individual use, and many can be extremely picky on what they use.

Don’t confuse these tools with “bar equipment.” Bar equipment is the big stuff: coolers, sinks, cash registers, etc., which I discuss in an upcoming lesson here my Free Basic Bartending Corse.

This is a fairly quick lesson on personal bartending tools, but you really need to be familiar with this stuff if you’re trying to land that first bartending gig.

I would highly recommend buying an inexpensive set of Bartending Tools and start practicing using them. If anything, start setting up your mini home bar now!

The bartender’s “tools of the trade,” are used for efficiency, speed, and presentation. No bartender can be at his best without them. I have also included here some additional items bartenders use for presentation.

For aspiring bartenders, go out and look at a bunch of bars! Look at what’s on and behind those bars. Look at the tools the bartenders are using.

Side Note: Really good, experienced bartenders have the luxury of dictating to their boss what kind of tools and equipment to supply. Smart Bar Managers listen to them. You’re new? Don’t rock the boat and start requesting changes!

For aspiring bartenders trying to land that first bartending job:

Q: Will knowing the essential bartending tools help me get my first bartending job?

A: Of course. If you don’t know what the common bartending tools are – you’re in trouble.

Q: Will the interviewer ask me any questions about bartender tools?

A: Quite possibly. “Tell me, Mark, how would you sanitize the knife you use to cut fruit?” Or, “What bartending tools would you use to stir a martini and serve it ‘Up’?”

Rookie Interview Mistakes: The obvious – not being familiar with the basic bartender tools. Your first day on the job and your trainer instructs you to “Open that bottle of Chardonnay.” Oh-oh.

You better have a wine opener in your pocket – and know how to use it. Buy a wine and beer opener online – or wherever. Time to start supplying your mini home bar anyway.

True Story:
I was interviewing a bartending job applicant one time and asked her if she knew how to open a bottle of wine and present it to the guest.
Her response? “I sure do. In fact, here’s the wine opener I carry (pulls it out of her pocket and shows it to me). I brought it with me today just in case you hired me on the spot.” That got my attention.

Here we go. You may think that some of the below items would be considered bar equipment instead of bartender tools. Not so. Bartenders (the good ones, anyway!), have a huge say in what type of bartending tools they prefer using – even if the bar is supplying them.

The Most Common Bartending Tools

The Bartender’s Jigger

Simply put – a measuring device. Could be just a plain shot glass. May be glass or metal. Metal jiggers usually have two different measurements.

A common jigger is ¾ ounce and 1 ½ ounce. Most bars have them. Craft bars definitely have them. Bar policy (the bar owner) determines if you use one – or free pour.

Bar Spoon

Long and thin, used for stirring, mixing, and measuring. Handle end is great for making lemon twists. The bar should have a couple available in each bar station.

Pouring Mat

Long rectangle, usually rubber. Many bars get their bar mats from their liquor or beer vendors. Free stuff. Majority of drinks are made on this mat.

You might consider this “bar equipment” and not a tool; however, Bartenders are very particular about their bar mats! You will be, too.

Pour Spouts

Many different types. Most bars will have a couple of different types – depends on the thickness/consistency of the alcohol. Other types are used with containers: Juices, sweet ‘n sour, simple syrup, etc. We’ll talk more about liquor pourers in the “Pouring Liquor” lesson.

Essential Bartending Tools: Don't Leave Home Without Them

Ice Buckets

Every bar has them – somewhere. Totally depends on what kind of wine you’re selling. The bar supplies them, and I could go either way on this: Bartender Tool or Bar Equipment?

Ice Scoop

Usually stainless still. Use it – breaking a glass in the ice during the rush sucks. Health inspector is looking for it to be stored outside the ice bin. Again, I consider this a tool as bartenders are all over the place in which style/brand they prefer.

Electric Blender

Frozen margaritas and the like. Heavy duty – not the Hamilton Beach you have at home. Possibly a couple of them. Very close to the main bartender workstation, as bartenders use it a lot. Bartenders definitely have their favorite brands.

Electric Mixer

Not to be confused with a blender. Used for quick mixes. Like the blender, always within arm’s reach. Sours, margarita rocks – anything a customer wants blended/mixed a bit.


Mashes herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, rinds – anything you can crush, crunch, bash, or destroy into oblivion. Usually wooden for some reason.

Beer Bottle Opener

Don’t leave home without one. I always had my own – at the ready in my pocket. New bartenders learn real quick that twisting off bottle caps (most are twist off these days), gets old fast – and damaging to the flesh.

Many bars will have a heavy-duty bottle opener bolted conveniently next to each bartender workstation. Believe me, these are life savers!

Knife with Cutting Board

For cutting fruit and other garnishes. Keep the knife sharp, and both of them sanitized. Run them through the kitchen dishwasher at the end of the day.

Bartenders (and Bar Managers), will argue all day long on whether cutting boards should be wood or plastic. Go with the flow, but, in my opinion, all wood cutting boards should be replaced with plastic.

Cutting boards and knives are one of the bar health inspector’s favorite things to inspect. Make sure they’re clean, sanitized, and stored properly.

Essential Bartending Tools: Don't Leave Home Without Them

Wine Opener

Many different styles. All bars have them, and many bartenders carry their own personal favorite. I did. Up-scale and fine dining establishments will require all service personnel to carry one.

You may think this is silly – but have one in your pocket at all times while interviewing! See my “True Story,” above.

Cocktail Shaker

Multiple uses. Capacity is anywhere between 12 and 24 ounces – but could be any size. Metal or glass. Used for shaking, stirring, mixing. Martinis, sours, margaritas, and more. Many bars have multiple shakers at each bar station.

The cocktail shaker, like all bar tools, has an interesting history. It has been around for years, and can be traced back to ancient times. Interesting stuff.

Mixing Glass

Multiple uses. Most always made of glass. Basically, can be used just like a shaker, and also fits well into the shaker for “shaking.”

Essential Bartending Tools: Don't Leave Home Without Them

“Mixing glasses” are many times just a 16 ounce beer glass. Nice.


Restrains ice when you’re pouring a “stirred” cocktail. Usually stainless steel. Can be used with the cocktail shaker or mixing glass – anything you wish to strain.

Citrus Juicer (Hand and/or electric)

Crushes and juices different types of fresh fruit. Very handy, and very popular in bars that specialize in exotic, tropical cocktails.


Many different styles and uses. Used on fruits, ginger, herbs, and spices. Have one located close to your workstation. Good luck finding one in many bars.

Glass Rimmer

Plastic, two or three trays, with moistened (usually with lime juice), sponge-like material in one tray and salt and sugar in the other two trays.


More along the lines of supplies instead of tools, but some bartenders are very particular in what styles/brands they prefer.


Got the name from the movie “Cocktail.” It’s what Tom Cruise called the little umbrellas that garnished a drink. Bamboo seems to be popular. Swizzle sticks, weird types of straws, you name it.

Again, Bar Managers listen to their experienced bartenders. As long as their isn’t a major price difference, managers are usually receptive to their bartenders’ preferences.

Final Thoughts On Bartending Tools

There you have it – all of the Essential Bartender Tools. Read it. Learn it. Live it.

For all of you aspiring bartenders out there – get to know these tools. Intimately. Purchase a home bartending kit and start practicing if you’re serious about landing that first bartending job.

If you’re following along in the Basic Bartending Course:

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Previous Lesson: Setting Up/Tearing Down/Side Work

Back to the Course Start Page: Basic Bartending Course