10 must-have items for the DIY mixologist

Mixology is one of the most rewarding forms of DIY craft-making you can possibly enter. It’s diverse, sensual, and experimentation-friendly, and will also make you instantly popular with a group of sophisticated, slightly desperate people. Whether you’re entering into the magical kingdom of cocktail invention yourself or know someone who is, these ten items are guaranteed to make whatever mixologist uses them into a local hero.

The base of operations | 25 Piece Mixology Bartender Kit With Stand

Every would-be mixologist needs a set of standard equipment with which to work because making new concoctions with plastic spoons and baby tumblers kind of takes the mystique out of the equation. This 25-piece bar set is a great set to get started. It’s got a shaker, a bunch of spouts, a long-handled mixing spoon, a jigger, a strainer, ice tongs, industrial-strength coasters, and a few items about which we have no idea what they do or how they work. Everything is held together with a polite and accommodating bamboo stand.

Bartender’s bible | The Ultimate Bar Book

This 476-page behemoth could be called The Joy of Mixing. It contains recipes for a mind-blowing number of cocktails and beverages — over 1,000, in fact. James Beard nominee Mittie Hellmich has collected complete instructions for just about every mixed drink known to humankind: the Singapore Sling, the Moscow Mule, the New Orleans Fizz, the Mississippi Mist, the Tokyo Mary, the Louisville Stinger, the Long Island Iced Tea, the London Fog, the Detroit Carburetor, the Philadelphia Insult, the Western Australia Malaise, the Vatican Excuse, and several more whose names we didn’t make up to meet the word count.

Playing with flavor | DO YOUR WHISKY Infusion | DIY Kit

Infused spirits are cornerstones of every budding mixologist’s practice. It’s not enough to serve a whiskey neat and call it creation. Nowadays, that whiskey has to have a bouquet of jasmine or essence of cardamom just to pass muster. This infusion set contains everything you need to give ordinary whiskey a character all its own: breathtaking botanicals, three kinds of whiskey chips, two glass bottles, and a recipe book to help stimulate the imagination.

Make bitter choices | Fee Brothers Bar Cocktail Bitters

Ordinary, excessively polite beverages may lack that certain edge — a simple addition that helps turn them from tame, lifeless palette-deadeners to vibrant, tingly, out-of-control tongue exploders. Enter bitters, high-proof spirits that are kind of the MSG of the cocktail world. Fee Brothers has a special six-pack of cocktail bitters that will pump instant life to your prized concoctions. Included are bitters infused with the essence of grapefruit, orange, lemon, peach, and mint, as well as the original, old-fashioned kind that’s just infused with more bitterness.

Exotica in a cup | Tiki Mugs Set

At some point in your journey toward mixology myth, you’re going to come face to face with tiki culture. We’re not entirely sure how alcoholic drinks got mixed up with the exotic symbolism of the sea-drenched South Pacific, but that mystery has never stopped cocktail makers from producing fanciful drinks served with bamboo implements in mugs carved like faces that look like they’re taunting you. This set of three fine-looking tiki mugs will add a sense of native allure and typhoon warnings to your ordinary glass cabinet.

Cooling with style | Silicone Ice Cube Trays

Ice is a mixologist’s best friend. There is absolutely no better way to decrease the temperature of a cocktail than an ice cube. Believe us, we’ve tried everything else. Blowing, freezing, shipping it to the Arctic Circle, being emotionally distant — none of those work to cool a drink off more quickly with less hassle than an ice cube. Make your stash of ice a little more interesting to look at with these silicon ice cube trays, which produce ice units in the shape of an orb, a hexagon, or the internationally acclaimed cube format.

Smoke gets in your glass | Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser

One of the more interesting, recent crazes in the realm of mixology is infusing hard liquor with the essence of smoke. This pistol-shaped device puts the power of smoke within your grasp. Just load up the included wood particles, light the fire, point the spout into a glass of whiskey, and shoot the smoke in. It adds a completely new dimension to the aroma and tannic experience of whiskey cocktails, the same way it gives depth to barbecue sauce, slow-roasted pork, and a few frat parties we’d rather forget about.

On the road again | Barillio Travel Bartender Bag

When you’ve attained a certain level of bartending expertise, you’re going to be in demand. Your skills may be contracted out by outsiders or foreign entities to bring some life to their social functions or official galas. And when that happens, your nylon backpack or hard-shell suitcase isn’t going to be enough to haul your wares across the globe. You’ll need this specially designed, roll-up travel bag to get all your mixing apparatuses, shakers, bitters, and whatever else you need from gig to gig.

On the (actual) rocks | Beverage Chilling Stones

Some whiskey drinkers — not the ones who just drink to forget — are a little more discriminating about their spirit of choice. They don’t appreciate the way ice cubes (which are world-class drink-coolers) melt as they get incrementally warmer, emitting flavorless water that dilutes the taste of their scotch. These insufferable types often insist on chilling stones. They’re made of pure soapstone. Just stow them in your freezer the way you would frozen vegetables. When they’re ready, pop them into a whiskey drink to keep it sufficiently chilled.

You and Meehan | Meehan’s Bartender Manual

Jim Meehan is one of the most lethal bartenders in the world, kind of a cross between Yoda, a samurai warrior, and an oak barrel with hands. Everything you could ever want to know about cocktails is lodged in his brain, and a lot of it can be found in this exhaustive book filled with history, philosophy, and professional insight. Don’t dive into the world of swizzle sticks, decanters, or paper parasols without it.