Mix it up: More cocktail tools than you can shake a long bar spoon at

Philip Salter
Follow Philip

ACCORDING to research, it takes the average person anywhere between 21 and 66 days to form a habit. Perhaps, but surely it depends on the habit in question.

It would take me next to no time, for example, to pick up the habit of leaving my dirty clothes on the floor and watching Seinfeld every day. The habit of running 5k before breakfast and studying algebra before bed wouldn’t take root so easily. One habit that’s more Seinfeld than algebra is making your own cocktails.

You’ll need a cocktail shaker, of course. The options? A cobbler or Boston shaker. Cobblers are the pretty, shiny ones you see in department stores. They are good for newbies because they’re easier to use and tend to have their own strainers. Boston shakers are the ones you see bartenders use when they’re churning out cocktails by the dozen. Start with a cobbler, and if the cocktail making habit sticks, move onto a Boston shaker and put the cobbler on the side for show.

To pour the alcohol and mixers into the shaker accurately, you’ll need a jigger (a word with around 28 different meanings). In this instance, it is a receptacle for pouring alcohol, rather than an “old-looking person”, “ouija board”, “potter’s wheel” or any of the other less polite definitions of the word. I suggest getting a few different types, as American bartenders measure in ounces while over here we use millilitres.

Now that the ingredients are in the shaker, you’ll need to invest in a muddler for muddling, a long bar spoon for stirring and a Hawthorne strainer for straining (unless you have one in your cobbler).

To the casual observer, the Hawthorne strainer may look prosaic; but in this simple device form follows function resulting in something that flirts with perfection (or perhaps it’s just a funny looking piece of metal with a spring attached).

Pouring mixed drinks from the shaker into your guests’ mouths is generally frowned upon (but not universally so according reality TV shows about 18 to 30s holidays), so you will need something to serve it in. You probably own most of the required glasses, or near equivalents, but you must invest in a few martini (cocktail) glasses if you don’t have any.

With a bit of practice, making cocktails will become second nature.

But remember: drinking too much is an awful habit; drinking well is one of the best.