What to Look for in a Bartender Kit

 Whether you’re an aspiring mixologist or a seasoned home bartender, having the right tools on hand is essential for crafting delicious cocktails. A well stocked bartender kit should have all of the cocktail making tools you need to shake, stir, muddle and strain delicious drinks from the comfort of your own home.

There are a so many options on the market. So, how do you choose the right cocktail shaker set for your specific needs?  Our comprehensive guide outlines everything you need to consider.

A man pouring a cocktail using a bartender kit shaker. There are lemons on a chopping board under the shaker.

Bartender Kit Equipment

The first thing to think about when looking for a bartender kit is which bar tools it comes with. Some sets are more comprehensive than others. Some are basic and contain just a shaker and a jigger. What do you need, anyway?

Obviously your needs will depend on whether you just want to throw together simple mixed drinks like a gin and tonic, or if you want to be able to make all the classic cocktails.

I’ll assume you’re in the latter camp and you want to be able to put together everything from a martini to an Old Fashioned. In that case your bartender kit should contain:

. A jigger - for measuring out your liquors, juices and other ingredients.

. A cocktail shaker - Either a cobbler shaker or a Boston shaker. We’ll get on to the differences between them in a moment.

. Liquor pourer spouts - For fast and accurate pouring without spilling the spirits everywhere.

. A muddler - To mash up fruits and herbs. You can’t make mojitos without one.

. A Hawthorne strainer - The gold standard of bar strainers. It keeps bits of ice and fruit pulp out of your cocktails.

. Ice tongs - Because picking up ice cubes with your fingers and plonking them in your drink doesn’t look quite as glamorous.

. A Wine Opener - For corking bottles. These normally have a little knife on the end for cutting the foil on a wine bottle, and this can also be handy for cutting fruit peel to garnish your drinks.

That’s it. These seven items are enough to make every cocktail you can imagine. Anything above and beyond this are just extra, nice to haves.

There are also advanced mixology techniques like cocktail smoking and infusions which you’ll need to get separate tools for. For all the classic cocktails, though, and any variations of them, a cocktail shaker set with all the tools listed above will do.

Cobbler shaker vs Boston Shaker

The next choice you need to make is whether to go with a cobbler shaker or a Boston shaker. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. The Boston shaker is larger and can hold more liquid. It’s more difficult to use, though, especially for beginners.

The cobbler shaker is beginner friendly and has the advantage of a built in strainer on the cap, so you can pour your drinks quickly and easily without needing to use an additional strainer.

In the end it comes down to personal choice - whether you use a cobbler or Boston shaker won’t affect the taste of your cocktails. I’d recommend starting with a cobbler shaker set if you’re a beginner mixologist. That way you can focus on mixing up delicious recipes without having to stress over shaking technique.


Your cocktail shaker set is a tool. You want it to last a long time - ideally many years - so that you can continue to enjoy delicious home made cocktails. It should at the very least be durable and rustproof. You’re going to shake it and maybe occasionally bang it and scuff it on a kitchen countertop, so it should be well-built and able to withstand these things. The biggest factor affecting its durability is the material it’s made from.


Make sure you choose a bartender kit made from 304 stainless steel. This is the only type of steel that is food grade, rust proof and dishwasher safe. The type of metal is important but so is the quality of its build. Some shakers, for example, are so thin that they can cut your fingers. All of the bar tools in your set should be made from thick stainless steel and feel heavy in the hand.

Jigger and Shaker Size

Not all bartender kits come with standard size shakers and jiggers, so this is something you should pay attention to.

Most of the drinks you pour will have recipes that call for 2 oz, 1 oz, 1/2 oz and 1/4 oz measurements. It’s best, then, to make sure your bartender kit has a 1 oz / 2 oz double jigger which can easily measure all of these quantities.

European manufacturers produce 25 ml and 50 ml size jiggers as that’s the standard in their countries, but it’s difficult to use these to measure US standard pours.

Even some US manufacturers skimp out and include a 1/2 oz / 1 oz jigger in their set instead of the standard double jigger. This makes for a poor cocktail making experience as every time you want to pour out a 2 oz measure you need to pour two singles instead. So, yes, size does matter - at least when it comes to your jigger.

The cocktail shaker size is something you should consider too but it isn’t quite as important. A 24 or 25 oz cobbler shaker will make 2 to 3 cocktails in one go, which is the perfect amount for most people. This is also the standard size used in most bars. I’ve seen some sets that have very small 18 oz or even 16 oz shakers which should still be okay for most people but it’s not ideal. The size of your cocktail shaker shouldn’t be something you need to compromise on, so pay attention to this when looking for a bartender kit.

Double jigger, shaker, and strainer from a brushed copper bartender kit. The strainer is leaning on the shaker.


How the bartender tools in your cocktail shaker set feel, and how they fit in your hand, is another important factor. If you’ve ever used a badly designed tool, you very quickly know about it.

The shaker should be the correct size and shape for a hand. The lid should fit on well so that it doesn’t leak, but it shouldn’t be so tight that it’s difficult to remove after you’ve shaken your drink.

Japanese style jiggers offer the best combination of ergonomics and precision pouring. They’re skinny in the middle which makes them easier to hold and they have a taller frame with a smaller mouth, which reduces spills and over or under pouring.

All aspects of your bartender kit should work together to create a seamless cocktail mixing workflow. In other words they should speed you up, not slow you down.

Bartender Kit Finish - Stainless Steel vs Color Finished

Style is important. The things we buy tell a story about us, and this is equally true for the things we buy for our home as it is for the clothes we wear or the car we drive.

Modern sets with sleek lines and a minimalist look are great for contemporary spaces, while vintage designs may be better suited to a more classical or rustic setting. There are a few different finishes commonly used for cocktail shaker sets.

Stainless Steel Finish

Stainless steel is the OG of bartender kits. Classy yet understated, it is a “no frills” option that gets the job done. If you don’t care about fancy styles or finishes for your bar kit, this might be the right choice for you.

Stainless steel bartender kit from a front view, inside a black bamboo stand, against a white background

Gunmetal Black

Using electroplating technology, a chemical process is used to put a layer of black colored alloys on the outside of your stainless steel bartender set. These alloys bind to the bar tools at a molecular level. The base material is the same - 304 stainless steel but the outside has a striking gunmetal color.

This process is entirely food safe and a protective coating is put on all the bar tools to preserve the color and keep your bartender kit looking fresh for the long term.

Gunmetal black cocktail shaker set from a front view. All the bar tools are inside a black stand, and it's against a white background.

Brushed Copper - Antique Style

An antique brushed copper style bartender kit is made through a similar process of electroplating. After it’s been colored, though, it’s brushed with a steel wire brush to create a stunning antique copper patina.

Antique brushed copper style bartender kit in a brown bamboo stand, against a white background

Other Colors

A similar process of electroplating can be used to make bartender kits in all manner of colors. There are gold, purple and even rainbow colored sets on the market. It’s important though to read customer feedback about the quality of the finish.

A properly electroplated set shouldn’t peel because the alloys that give it its color are bound to the steel at a molecular level. There is no “plastic film” covering the set that can peel off. Unfortunately some manufacturers don’t follow the correct process so it’s important to read customer reviews and see what they say about the quality of the finish.

Note: At Hawke and Hanley we have a “No Peel Guarantee.” If you have any issues with your bartender kit reach out and we’ll make it right. You can see our returns policy for more details.

With or Without a Stand

Do you want a bartender kit with, or without, a stand?

A cocktail shaker set with a stand is great if you want to display your set on your kitchen counter top or home bar. If you choose a set that looks good and aesthetically matches your kitchen it can act as a centerpiece and even a conversation starter.

A stand for your bartender kit keeps all of the pieces neatly together and reduces clutter. It’s important, though, to choose a set where the pieces fit properly inside the stand. The holes for each piece should be in the right place and the right size to stop them from easily toppling over. This is another time where reading customer feedback is helpful. Read what other people are saying online about the set and whether or not the stand works properly. You can also look at photos of the bartender kit. Are the pieces standing proudly in their stand or leaning to the side?

Some people might prefer a cocktail shaker set without a stand if they simply want to store all the pieces in a drawer, and they don’t mind fishing them out each time they want to mix a drink.

Hawke & Hanley Bartender Kit

If you want a bartender kit that’s all of the above: durable, stylish, leak proof, rust proof, dishwasher safe and has all of the tools you need for crafting every drink - check out our range of cocktail shaker sets.

When cared for properly (and it doesn’t take much - just wash and dry it after each use) our bartender kits can last for many years. They’re built to endure endless cycles of shaking, stirring and muddling to help you craft delicious cocktails every time.

Hawke and Hanley black bartender kit with all the bar tools on display. The product box is in the background, and there is a cocktail booklet next to the bar set.

Extras for Your Cocktail Shaker Set

Mixology is one of those hobbies that just seems to slowly take over. Once you’ve mastered the classics and tried your hand at mixing your own unique creations you want more.

As we already touched on above there are some advanced techniques in cocktail crafting that require separate tools not normally covered in a bartender kit. Probably the two most well known are cocktail smoking and infusions.

Cocktail Smoker Kit

Cocktail smoking is the art of…well…smoking cocktails! Any drink can, in theory, be smoked but this technique is traditionally associated with whisky and brandy based drinks. Smoked Old Fashioned and Whisky Sours are especially popular.

A cocktail smoker kit normally includes a smoking gun, a cloche, and wood chips of various flavors for giving your cocktails that unique smoky taste.

Cocktail Infusion kit

Infusing herbs and spices into spirits is a tradition which goes back thousands of years. Making your own infusions is a way to level up your skills as a mixologist and play around with different flavors.

You can buy pre-made infusion kits which normally have a mixture of various herbs and spices in a jar which you add your chosen liquor to, and leave it to infuse for a few days. Alternatively, you can get really creative and make your own.

Back to blog

Featured Products