Japanese bartenders are respected around the world for their skills behind the stick, but the craftspeople who forged their tools deserve some of the credit as well. The extremely precise tools you’ll find in a Tokyo bar are far different than the schlocky pieces gathering dust in many American watering holes. Brands like Yarai, Koriko, Yamachu, Wadasuke and Yukiwa create functional works of art that you can use to shake and stir the best cocktails of your life, whether you’re trained in Ginza-style bartending or not.
Put your ear up to a professional Japanese bartender's mixing glass as they stir, and you'll barely hear anything at all. That lightning fast, nearly silent stirring is thanks in part to a quality mixing glass. The Yarai glass represents the gold standard in every way: perfect width for stirring, ornate decoration, sturdy glass construction.
You may not think about the balance of your shaker tins when you’re mixing a single cocktail, but after preparing about 100, your arms will tell you if your off-balance shaker is doing more harm than good. A properly weighted shaker set, like this ergonomic duo from Koriko, will make shaking just a tad easier, especially since the pieces lock securely and unlock easily.
You’ll need a strainer to go along with that Koriko shaker, and there’s no better option than this tool to complete your set. We prefer the pronged model, which allows you to get a better grip as you pour, but both the pronged and non-pronged strainers work perfectly with their immensely tight coils. This strainer even allows you to close the gate to pour two drinks at once.
If you’re practicing to master Kazuo Uyeda’s infamous hard shake technique, you’ll need a sturdy cobbler shaker. While the Koriko set is a prime example of Japanese craftsmanship translated to Western tools, the bartenders in Tokyo actually prefer the three-piece cobbler shaker, especially for vigorous hard shakes. This squat, tough model from Yukiwa will never fail you as you shake your hardest.
Fifty bucks may seem like a lot for an ice pick, but think about that money as an investment towards beautifully crafted spheres, blocks and tiny ice swans in every lowball cocktail you’ll ever drink. With this three-pronged stainless steel pick from Yamachu, you can chip away at ice until you’re a sphere-carving master.
Japanese bar spoons often pull double duty, with the tail end either acting as a muddler or a trident-like skewer for retrieving garnishes from difficult containers. This model from Wadasuke goes above and beyond with interchangeable ends, like a Swiss Army knife for cocktail making.
Fancy looking bitters bottles do more than store your custom infusions and elixirs in a pretty package. The dasher tops on Japanese-style bottles limit the flow of liquid compared to the plastic cap on a bottle of Angostura, which allows bartenders to add bitters and other potent ingredients even more precisely. This bottle is cut from trusted Otsuka Glass, making it both sturdy and attractive.
From the outside, you could confuse this jigger for any ordinary measurer, but the internal markings give you way more bang for your buck. While filling the jigger will give you one or two full ounces, etchings inside each cup allow you to measure .5 oz, .75 oz and 1.5 oz.