Food & Drink

6 Expert Tips for Storing and Cleaning Barware

If you fancy yourself a cocktail buff, you’ve most likely invested in quality bar tools, all of which you probably want to keep in tiptop shape for as long as possible. So we enlisted the help of Ethan Kahn—general manager at Cocktail Kingdom and all-around barware pro—to give us the rundown on how to store, clean and generally care for all of your bar tools, from shakers and jiggers to coupe glasses and decanters.

Dishwasher for Everyday, Hand-Washing for the Good Stuff

“The glassware that’s more utilitarian and meant to be used day in and day out at a cocktail bar or any working bar or home bar can just be put through your normal dishwasher,” says Kahn. “Some tools, though, like the glass beakers, glass decanters, mixing glasses—those you’re always want to wash a little more delicately.”

Always Wash Stemmed Glasses by Hand

“Unless you’re running a restaurant operation, I would always wash stemware by hand,” he says. “It’s that extra little bit of care and it makes a difference. You don’t want to go breaking something that maybe you spent a nice amount of money on—like your Baccarat crystal. Tragic.”

Never Put Plated Barware in the Dishwasher or Drawer

“I never ever put any plated products into the dishwasher,” he says, referring to barware plated in gold, silver, nickel and copper. “And I don’t store them in a drawer with anything else because they’re just going to clink with other metal stuff and the plating is going to start to come off.” So how should you store them? “I have a bar roll-up case [like this one] at home that I keep all my tools in so they’re nicely stored and don’t come in contact with anything else,” Kahn says.

Polish With a Microfiber Cloth

If you have silver barware, Kahn recommends investing in some silver polish, as tools will tarnish after a couple of uses. For everything else, he recommends microfiber. “I'll use a microfiber cloth to polish up any of the stainless steel products or any of the glassware after a wash,” he says, noting that the same microfiber cloth used for cleaning eyeglasses will work. “Dishwashers always leave some sort of film and there are fingerprints and what have you—it just doesn’t look good.”

Watch Your Water Temperature

“What you do want to be careful with is going from extremely cold to rinsing it immediately under hot water,” he says. “That will cause the glass to expand and then crack in your hands.”

Store Stemmed Glasses Upside Down

“I don’t like standing stemmed glassware in a wood cabinet on its own, so I'll put down a cloth or a paper towel,” Kahn says. “Before I use it I'll generally take it out of the cabinet and let it air out for a minute or so. You’d be surprised—they can collect odors. You just need to let it air out for a second and it’ll be fine.”