Every bar needs two things: liquor, and the proper bar accessories to make said liquor into an enjoyable drink. And while most at-home entertainers know what spirits comprise their favorite cocktails, the exact equipment to craft them can feel like a bit of insider information. Sure, you can quote that James Bond likes his martinis shaken, not stirred. But if 007 came to your house and asked you to make him one, well—could you?
That’s where Claridge’s comes in. This week, the iconic London hotel—whose bartenders craft 36,000 drinks a year behind their beloved bar—comes out with their first-ever cocktail book. It details over 400 cocktails, from the classic Negroni to the crème de cassis-spiked Champagne concoction “The Flapper,” to even a milk-punch bowl. Yet authors Denis Broci, Claridge’s director of bars, and Nathan McCarley-O’Neill, director of mixology, concluded they couldn’t share the secrets to their world-class libations without first setting up their readers for sipping success. After all, Claridge’s first “drinking parlor” (as they called it) opened in 1856. Their bartenders have not only decades of experience, but centuries of institutional knowledge passed down to them. So the first few pages of Claridge’s: The Cocktail Book contain clear, detailed instructions on how to create the perfect bar at home.
To celebrate the cocktail anthology’s publication, Claridge’s has shared the best bar accessories with Vogue, below. “To paraphrase William Morris, one must own nothing that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Happily, all of the below hit the spot on both counts and will help you create professional standard cocktails à la maison. Always remember to sterilize your equipment before use,” Broci and McCarley-O’Neill say.
Boston Shaker Tins
This pair of tin shakers slot together, creating a perfect seal that allows for vigorous mixing. A good size set should have ample room for two drinks to be shaken with a generous helping of ice cubes. A weighted version is recommended, as it allows the bartender to get a better grip.
This three-piece shaker, with an inbuilt strainer, is usually slightly smaller in volume and size: 12–18fl oz (350–500ml) compared to the Boston (1 pint/700ml). The best cobbler shakers come in polished stainless steel.
Essential for stirred drinks, a mixing glass or tin allows a bartender to combine a cocktail gently without diluting it—and to interact and share an anecdote or two while the alchemy occurs. Glass versions can be beautiful and are less expensive than their stainless-steel counterparts. However, the latter are less breakable and chill drinks faster.
This circular metal utensil, with tightly wound coils, prevents anything uninvited appearing in your cocktail. At Claridge’s, a Hawthorne strainer is typically used—this fits just inside a Boston shaker tin. The coiled spring is designed to hold back the ice. However, a bartender can ‘open the gate’ (move the strainer back slightly) to allow slivers of ice into the drink if desired. Claridge’s bartenders usually strain a second time, using a fine strainer.
This is a small, steel mesh basket, such as you might use to steep loose-leaf tea. Used with the Hawthorne strainer, it ensures drinks have a smooth and refined texture. This is especially useful when crafting a cocktail using egg whites.
This measuring tool is used for every Claridge’s cocktail, except the Claridge’s Martini, which is free poured. At the hotel, a Japanese style jigger is preferred as it has multiple etchings inside indicating different measurements, allowing for greater accuracy. Hold the jigger straight when adding liquor and pour right to the top of the line.
This long, slender spoon reaches to the bottom of the tallest mixing glass. At Claridge’s, you will find 16 inch (40cm) teardrop bar spoons with an elegant spiral finish and a thin shaft, to allow fingers to grip and rotate with ease. There is an art to stirring: movement should come from the wrist, not the elbow, fingers should be wrapped around the spoon so they move together, and there should be almost no noise against the glass. Claridge’s bartenders are trained to stir using both hands, so they can create multiple drinks at the same time.
Ice Pick and Knife
An ice pick and knife can add a touch of drama to your cocktail-making. They are, naturally, very sharp and should be treated carefully, lest your cocktail party end in more drama than planned. Hold the pick firmly and keep one finger near the sharp edge. This allows you to connect accurately with the ice.
The bartender’s answer to a pestle and mortar, a muddler lightly crushes fruits, peels and herbs together. This releases their juices, oils and aromas.
Essential for a proper Martini, this simple spritzing device allows you to ‘season’ the glass with a mist that completes a drink.
These can be things of beauty and make for the perfect finishing touch to your mixing. Use them to add or remove ice cubes from glasses and shakers. They are also useful for adjusting garnishes.