If you've always thought that cocktail shakers and wooden muddlers were the fanciest tools a bartender could use to mix a cocktail, you're dead wrong. These obscure bar tools have been used for decades by expert bartenders, and they're about as awesome as they are visually perplexing. With the help of some expert mixologists, we found nine totally badass old-fashioned bar tools that every bartender should start using.
1. Ice Crusher In the days before automated ice-crushing units in refrigerators, the arduous task of perfecting ice had to be done by hand. A cool hand crank and toothy gear combo would crush your ice to perfection and make you look like a total boss during.
2. Whisky Dropper This is the ideal tool to introduce the infinitesimal amount of water that’s going to open up the bouquet of your scotch without drowning it.
3. Ice Chipper Everybody and their mother knows what an ice pick is, but the ice chipper is the tool that follows it up once the block’s been broken down. If you’re working with large format ice, this is going to be the mediating step between the block and the glass.
4. The Lewis Bag The obscure bar tool that kicked off this project, and the perfect thing to break up your ice in. Originally intended to be used as a coin bag by banks, this heavy-duty bag is perfect for smashing up your ice to perfection.
5. Manual Ice Shaver Another specialty tool perfect for large format ice, this makes getting ice shavings for a slurry or adult Slurpee plain and simple.
6. The Book of Recipes The premier old-school tool, this is the essential book for any bartender worth their salt (this one belongs to Portland bartender Jeff Morganthaler... who's worth his salt.) Stay on top of your craft, keep track of your experiments, and avoid being caught flat footed when somebody asks for a drink in your cone of ignorance — because even the best bartender might not know how to whip up everything on the spot.
7. Cream Whipper More commonly found in the kitchen, a cream whipper is a multifaceted tool that can be used to make aromatic foams, carbonate entire cocktails, or create rapid infusions. This is an extremely durable and easy to use tool that I can't speak highly enough about.
8. Tool Roll Having all the tools of the trade is good and well, but if you're not taking proper care of them, then what's the point of having them in the first place? When you're lugging them to off-site events or just to your friends party, it's best to keep them organized and safe from the interior of your nasty backpack. Getting a Tool Roll like the Meehan Roll, or any of the various rolls available online, is a great way to store your spoons and strainers.
9. Harry Johnson's Bartenders' Manual or Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide How To Mix Drinks or A Bon Vivant's Companion Keeping a well-stocked library of cocktail recipes and history is important. These two books were the first to hit the market and have the original recipes of some of the cocktails most commonly ordered today, as well as tips on how to properly run a bar. Some recipes and ideas might be a little dated, but knowing where they came from is the best way to put your own spin on the classics.