A bar set is a collection of kitchen tools used by bartenders and mixologists to prepare alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. Different manufacturers may have different ideas on what constitutes a proper bar set, but there are certain basic items which seem universal. Almost all bar set kits include an ice bucket, tongs, stirrer, strainer, measuring jiggers, bottle opener and bar knife. Additional equipment may include bottle stoppers, shakers and graduated mixing glasses. A professional bar set may also include a garnish tray, coasters and napkin holders.
Many alcoholic drinks are served 'on the rocks' or at least chilled, so a large ice bucket and tongs is essential in any bar set. The tongs provide an elegant way for bartenders to fill glasses with clean ice cubes. It is not unusual to find ice buckets in a bar set insulated with leather or other material. Total capacity is definitely a consideration -- a busy bartender doesn't want to run out of ice during a rush.
One of the key elements of successful mixology is learning how to measure ingredients quickly and accurately. For this purpose, a standard bar set should include measuring jiggers. A jigger consists of two small metal or glass measuring cups joined at their bases. One cup may have a 2 ounce gradation, while the other may have 1 1/2 or 1 1/4 ounce gradations. If a drink recipe calls for 2 ounces of orange juice and 1 1/4 ounces of vodka, then the bartender would use a jigger for consistency. He or she would also have to know if the drink is served with ice, shaken or even stirred lightly.
Some mixed drinks must be stirred with a special stir stick included in the bar set. Certain liqueurs are difficult to blend with other ingredients because of their specific densities, so a stir stick should be used with these ingredients. Some liqueurs, such as Galliano, are meant to float above the rest of the drink, not become part of it.
Another essential bar set tool is a strainer. Some mixed drinks and straight spirits such as vodka should be chilled before serving, but not necessarily placed on ice in the glass. Other recipes may call for fruits or mint leaves to be shaken along with the ingredients, but not served in the final product. A strainer is made to fit the lip of a shaker and filter out the unwanted ice and other ingredients just before serving.
A basic bar set may also include bottle stoppers for resealing open bottles of liquor. Bottle stoppers may also double as jiggers if they are designed to dispense a specific amount of alcohol per pour. A multi-purpose bar knife could also be included, in order to prepare garnishes or open the seals on champagne bottles. Some bar sets include mixing glasses with various gradations for easier measurement of individual ingredients.
A basic bar set can be found in most department stores in the household appliance section. More advanced bar sets can be found in high-end specialty stores, restaurant supply stores and Internet-based catalog sales. Many bar sets are designed for function over style, but there are more sophisticated designs available for the discerning home mixologist.