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Building a barware collection at home is no small undertaking. There are various styles of shakers and jiggers to choose from, bar spoons at all different lengths, strainers for this and that, and much more (not to mention the storage and display options to consider). Whether shopping for yourself or for a gift, opting for a set can make things easier than designing a collection from scratch.
"Bar sets are a great way to get all the essential bar tools in one convenient package," says Camille Wilson, the creative force behind The Cocktail Snob. A great set can be especially helpful for beginners, she notes, and going this route can be a smart move from a value perspective. According to Wilson, it’s also a crowd-pleaser when it comes to gifting. Here are the best bar sets for making at-home drinks.
Best Value: Barillio Elite 23-Piece Bartender Kit
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop, Barillio’s 23-piece kit has everything you could possibly need (and probably more). This is a great option if you’re starting from scratch, or if you just want to have extra tools on hand. The set includes a jigger, muddler, bar spoon, Hawthorne strainer, tongs, wine key, three universal speed pours (along with caps and brushes), two bottle stoppers and a cocktail shaker. Even more, a stately bamboo stand holds all of the tools. As a bonus, a velvet carry bag and a book of recipes are also included.
Best Budget: VinoBravo 11-Piece Bartender Kit
Perfect for rose gold fans, this 11-piece set from VinoBravo is both easy on the eyes and the wallet—all without compromising on quality. Featuring all of the essentials for any shaken drink, this set includes a pair of weighted shaker tins, three different strainers (basket, Hawthorne and julep), a Japanese-style jigger, bar spoon, muddler, tongs, two speed pours and a recipe book. And, if you want to make something stirred, simply use one of the tins as a mixing vessel. Best of all, the brand's products come with a lifetime guarantee, so you can shake without worry.
Best Splurge: Absolut Elyx Deluxe Martini Gift Set
Making a great Martini isn’t as easy as one might think—though simple in its makeup, there are many variables in each step that can influence the drink in its final form. This striking set from Absolut Elyx, a top-shelf vodka that makes a fine Martini, has everything you need to step up your stirred or shaken game.
In the brand’s signature copper finish, the set features two vintage coupes, a jigger, a julep strainer (for stirred Martinis), shaker tins, a bar spoon, a beaker and a Hawthorne strainer (for shaken Martinis), all wrapped up in a gorgeous gift box. Pro tip: always chill the coupes before serving your Martinis.
Best for Beginners: Modern Mixology Bartender Kit with Stand
For the beginner bartenders out there, Wilson has a few words of wisdom: “One thing to note is that there's no universal set—every set has different tools. But I think novice home bartenders should look for a set with a jigger, cocktail shaker, muddler and bar spoon at minimum.” According to Wilson, these are the essentials as they’re bound to get the most use, and durability is key.
If you’re just starting out, follow Wilson’s lead by going with this quality collection of basics from Modern Mixology, which includes all of the above minus the muddler (a tool you can improvise with something you have at home). In addition, this set comes with tongs, a bottle opener, a wooden stand, a recipe booklet and a three-year warranty.
Best for Travel: W&P Design Cocktail Canteen
"I'm really particular about my bar tools so I bought all my tools individually and built a collection over the years—but if I could go back and do it all again, I would definitely invest in a nice matching set,” says Wilson. “One set I've been eyeing is the Cocktail Canteen from W&P Design. It's cool because it's made for bringing your bar tools with you on the go and comes in a cute canteen (that doubles as a shaker) to carry all your tools.”
On your next trip, bring this compact set along for a test run. Whether you’re shaking or stirring, you’ll definitely be putting the funnel, collapsible jigger, expandable bar spoon, dropper bottle and peeler to use. This set is TSA-compliant for good measure.
Related: The Best Gifts for Cocktail Lovers
Best Design: Picnic Time Complete Home Bar Set
Treat yourself (or a lucky loved one) to a bar-in-a-box. Picnic Time’s stunning wood case contains all of the essentials and then some (19, to be exact), including a beaker-style mixing glass, stainless steel bar spoon, pro-quality shaker tins, a Hawthorne strainer, jigger, wine key, ice bucket, marble cutting board and more. It also includes tongs, a muddler, paring knife, and bottle opener, and the box measures 14 by 11 by 11 inches. Best of all, it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Related: The Best Cocktail Glasses
Why Trust Liquor.com?
Céline Bossart has been covering the wine and spirits industries for the past seven years, and with that, she’s shaken and stirred a fair amount of cocktails using all kinds of different tools.