8 Summer Bar Essentials Slideshow

The ultimate bar tools and spirits for summer cocktails


1. Muddler

If you’re making any sort of mojito, mint julep, or caipirinha this summer, chances are you’re going to need a muddler. Of course, the amateurs can use a long, wooden spoon or a wooden pestle to get the job done, but a professional-grade muddler with a ribbed bottom will extract just the right amount of juice and oils to elevate your summer cocktails. 

Muddlers We Like:

Bar Cocktail Muddler, $4.25, kegworks.com

Silicone and Stainless Steel Muddler, $12.95, Crate & Barrel

Rösle Fruit Muddler, $22, Williams-Sonoma

2. Citrus Reamer

Sure, you can use a fork to extract lemon or lime juice, or try doing it by hand. But a citrus reamer will be your most-used bar tool this summer if only because it’s just so efficient. Haul out the margarita glasses — you won’t be able to stop making them with the handiness of a citrus reamer.

Citrus Reamers We Like:

Cuisinox Citrus Reamer, $28.72, Cooking & Tableware

Joseph Joseph Lemon and Lime Citrus Reamer Set, $16.24, QVC

OXO Good Grips Lemon Reamer, $9.99, Bed Bath & Beyond

3. Paring Knives

If you don’t have one already, summer cocktails are another excuse to snap one up. Every chef needs a good knife, and every bartender needs a good knife for slicing up garnishes and wedges in a flash.

Paring Knives We Like:

Wusthof Grand Prix II Paring Knife, $35, Macy’s

Furi Rachael Ray Paring Knife, $6.50, Tiger Chef

4. Tonic

There’s a reason why the world loves gin and tonics — the tonic. Upgrade your soda water to a tonic that will blow everyone at the party away, because club soda just won’t do it. 

Tonics We Like:

Tomr’s Handcrafted Tonic Syrup Concentrate, $11.95, Kegworks.com

Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic, $24, The Boston Shaker

5. Ginger Beer

If you love tonic, you’re definitely going to want its cousin, ginger beer, on your home bar, too. Ginger beer can be mixed with just about any spirit — rum, vodka, gin, whiskey — for truly refreshing drinks.

Ginger Beers We Like:

Sioux City Ginger Beer, $10.74 for a six-pack, Beverage Direct

Fever Tree Carbonated Ginger Beer, $25 for an eight-pack, Amazon

6. Sweet Vermouth


Sweet vermouth can be enjoyed in plenty of cocktails, as well as on its own. When enjoyed on the rocks, it makes the perfect summer aperitif. (Another easy-drinking aperitif? Lillet Blanc.)

Sweet Vermouths We Like:

Andrew Quady Vya Sweet Vermouth, $19.99, Liquorama.com

Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, $26.99, Klwines.com

7. Cointreau


Your margaritas and Cosmos need a splash of an orange-based liqueur to give them just the right amount of zest. It’ll be one spirit that you’ll use all summer long. (Triple sec and Grand Marnier work just as well, too.)

Cointreau We Like:

Cointreau, $38.99, Market View Liquor

8. Ice Cube Tray


Our love for a great ice cube is well known, and summer cocktails are no exception. So for the love of cocktails, don’t use your boring old ice cube tray in the back of the freezer — upgrade to a craft ice cube tray (or sphere) this summer. You won’t regret it.

Ice Cube Trays We Love:

Tovolo King Cube Ice Cube Tray, $8.95, Chef’s Resource

Casabella Silicone Big Ice Cube Tray, $11.49 for two, Casa.com

Silicone Ice Cube Sphere, $9, West Elm

Cocktail o'Clock

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Have everything you need for summer's best cocktails? Click ahead to find the best recipes for all of your summer drinks.