Cocktail equipment

18 October, 2013

For Kratena, who makes no secret of borrowing tools and ideas from the Langham hotel’s chefs, gadgets are exciting, but, like Lambert, he believes their use has to be “valid”. It is up to each bartender to decide whether a tool brings something new from a point of view which is valid and interesting. “I must admit I often buy every piece of equipment out there and test whether it’s better, faster, new or really the next big thing.”

The equipment on offer for bartenders at Spanish company Cocktail Bar Cook & Shake takes influence from the company’s other big clientele – chefs. Cocktail Bar’s Maria Grazia Massari says: “As we have the privilege of having the best chefs in the world as customers, we try to be helpful to the bartenders so they can learn from those chefs, from the research and development work done by them. We are able to offer to bartenders the more advanced products, tools and machinery of the global market, and also the technical and practical advice to help them develop their ideas at the highest level.”

Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see all manner of ‘kitchen equipment’ in cocktail bars, according to Massari. “Dehydrators, as well as vacuum sealers for sous-vide syrups, high quality Japanese ingredients such as yuzu juice, kabosu, sudachi, red shiso, machines such as anti-griddles [a device for flash freezing], and smoking tools” all make the cut, says Massari. 

Of course, cocktail trends also affect what type of equipment is needed behind the bar. Nick Andrews, director of UK-based Urban Bar, says one of the biggest trends at the moment is smaller, individual service – think bartender coming to you, rather than you going to the bar. For this, he says, a three-piece shaker is an important piece of kit. 

“We have also started selling barrels in response to the trend for barrel ageing,” he says. Urban Bar stocks one, two, three, five and 11-litre barrels, all medium charred and prices start at £60.  But both Kratena and Lambert’s favourite pieces of kit are fairly simple. In fact, Kratena maintains that his favourite piece of equipment isn’t even something confided to the bar world.  “It’s a good cleaning cloth,” he says. “Makes life easier.” A humble statement by a man at the top of his game. 

For Lambert, a three-piece copper cobbler shaker is flavour of the moment. “It’s awesome – a little bit heavy on the arms, but it’s so nice to look at and really fits into the specific style of Bar Americano (where I work),” he says.


Massari from Cocktail Bar Cook & Shake believes you can’t underestimate the importance of good glassware – and not just the kind you drink from.  “A good piece of glass (as in glasses, cups and mixing glass) has a big role in helping to create a better experience while tasting the cocktail. A clear glass is essential for that. The crystal carving and its finesse gives a touch of distinction to our drink and, consequently, to the place.”

She says the Japanese market is famous for its beautiful mixing glasses but countries such as Italy and Russia are also producing great designs. “Mixing glasses shine so much on the bar. They are one of the most appealing tools also for customers.” 

Kratena and Lambert are not only on opposite sides of the world – they also share opposite views on one element of glassware: vintage. Kratena thinks it’s time for something new but Lambert thinks there’s still mileage in the trend. 

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Nick Strangeway

Bar food's blurred lines

Once upon a time pubs and bars were somewhere you went with the sole purpose of getting pissed and there wasn’t a knife and fork in sight, just a packet of dry roasted nuts.