It’s a given that a great cocktail needs top-notch spirits.
But don’t sleep on the bar tools. Having the right barware — including shakers, spoons, glassware and, my favorite, supersized ice cubes — can make that homemade cocktail taste on-par with the one you order at your favorite bar.
Here are the best places to buy barware in and near Philadelphia.
The Old City specialty store is a destination spot for all kinds of cocktail ingredients, including liquors, liqueurs, and dozens of varieties of bitters. But the store also stocks a wide variety of professional-quality bar tools for under $25, from tall spoons to jiggers to shakers, as well as vintage glassware in which to show off your cocktails.
Phoenixville’s Bluebird Distilling sells a selection of bar essentials like the basic glasses and jiggers as well as quite the keen assortment of weighted bar spoons, perfect for preparing classic, stirred drinks like martinis, Manhattans, or an old-fashioned.
Address: 100 Bridge St., Phoenixville | Phone: 610-933-7827 | Hours: Daily 1-11 p.m. | Website: bluebirddistilling.com/bluebird | Instagram: @bluebirddistilling | Price: $$
The kitchen supply shop has an extensive collection of glassware and metal barware, as well as lots more to add oomph to your cocktail-hour spread. If you want to splurge, the shop’s Copper Chic gift basket includes sparkling straws, a shaker, bar spoon, strainer, and coaster for — ahem, wait for it — $285.
Nestled in the historic Italian Market, Fante’s Kitchen Shop is a great resource for at-home mixologists who are serious about the craft of making drinks. Bar tools include a variety of reasonably priced shakers, jiggers, muddlers, spoons, atomizers, and more.
Address: 1006 S. 9th St.| Phone: 215-922-5557 | Hours: In-store shopping hours: Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone support and pickup hours: Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Website: fantes.com | Instagram: @fantes9thstreet | Price: $
The mixologists at The Olde Bar sell the same jiggers and shakers they use to mix the restaurant’s exquisite martinis, margaritas, sours, and more. This $40 basket includes a 1-ounce mixing glass, a 1.5-ounce jigger, a bar spoon, and an ice cube mold. To buy the set, call the restaurant, or visit the website.
Elizabeth Bloom sells the most precious tableware from her Haverford shop, including a selection of sparkling bar tools. This is the place to find an elegant decanter, crystal pitcher, or stainless-steel-and-rosewood bar set, as well as snack trays and cheese knives for a frilly, at-home happy hour.
Grace Sloane’s gift shop stocks some gems for your bar, including jiggers, shakers, and ice cube molds from the Brooklyn-based home goods company W&P.
Occasionette has a variety of tools for the amateur bartender including shakers, strainers, rocks glasses, and recipe books, as well as kits to make beer and kombucha. Bonus: Many of the items are from Philadelphia-based makers.
Address: 1825 E. Passyunk Ave. and 724 Haddon Ave., Collingswood | Phone: Passyunk: 215-465-1704 and Collingswood: 856-854-0111 | Hours: Passyunk location: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. plus additional evening hours by appointment only; Collingswood location: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | Website: occasionette.com | Instagram: @occasionette | Price: $$
Bar tool essentials
To help us in our quest for bar tool perfection, we asked Jarden Adkins, master distiller and owner of Bluebird Distilling, where he buys his bar tools and why they are essential.
What other local spots do you recommend?
Believe or not, we find a lot of our glassware — punch bowls, fancy glasses, tiki glasses and mugs, and even tall yard glasses — at the local Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
Where do you buy bar tools online?
My go-to spot is Cocktail Kingdom. They have really great, professional-grade products, and it’s all really worth it.
What are the barware essentials?
The main essential is the shaker and a Hawthorne strainer that we use for straining out the ice. I also recommend that home bars have a conical mesh strainer, good for separating seeds from your citrus that made it into your drink, and a Julep strainer. A Julep strainer is also used to strain ice. A good bar has a tall yard glass, a jigger, and a spoon, too. Spoons, they get a lot of excitement. Mine has a personalized skull head. I find that every good bartender has his own special spoon.
Why is the bar spoon so important? Can’t I just use a tall teaspoon?
Not really. A bar spoon is about 15 inches long, and a good bar spoon is weighted on both ends and that allows you to stir quickly. You want to keep the ice moving to cool down your drink without diluting it. It’s extremely satisfying when you get a good stir going. It feels effortless. Your fingers start flying and you know your drink will taste great.