Nothing draws the attention of a party like a bartender, swinging open the doors of a bar cabinet and taking their place among the glistening bottles of brown and clear liquors, colorful spirits with foreign names, and sparkling cut glassware. Beer is a fine drink, as is wine, but they don’t match the spectacle of mixing a cocktail.
I’ve had more bad cocktails in my life than I care to remember, and it often comes down to the maker splashing in too much liquor or not straining their solid ingredients. You need a measure of knowledge, a splash of experience, and the right tools, which we’ve collected below. As we head into the holiday gathering season, the right cocktail tools and some basic bartending skills can make you popular with friends and family.
Be sure to check out our other buying guides and gift guides, like our Boozy Gift Ideas and Gifts for Coffee Lovers roundups.
Updated October 2023: We’ve added new books, glassware, a knife, ice crushers, and mixers.