Bar spoons are an essential tool for any mixologist, no matter what level of expertise. It is mainly used for stirred drinks, but has some lesser known uses that are quite handy.
It’s not an expensive bar tool, but there are a few key features to consider when buying a bar spoon, weight being one of my personal priorities.
I spent several hours researching and reading reviews of the best bar spoons, then testing some of them, so you don’t have to.
In my opinion, the Cocktail Kingdom Teardrop Barspoon is the best overall bar spoon for any home bar (link to check price on Amazon). It has weight but feels balanced, makes twisting motion easier than the others, and looks great.
The best part is that it comes in several finishes and lengths to fit your aesthetic.
Bar spoons are relatively simple tools, but there are some features and styles worth noting. Whether you are starting to set up your first home bar or looking to upgrade your tools, this guide will help you find the best bar spoon for your particular needs.
What is a Bar Spoon?
A bar spoon is just what it sounds like – a spoon used in barkeeping. The unique features of a bar spoon make it best suited for use in mixing drinks.
Bar spoons are a lot longer than a soup spoon and they have a thin handle, which is often twisted. The opposite end is sometimes a useful tool, such as a fork or muddler, or it can be merely decorative.
Anecdotally, the bar spoon originated from dessert and beverage spoons in Germany and France, eventually grabbing the attention of bartenders in England.
The French version was designed to crush the hard clump of sugar in a coffee drink called mazagran. Some bar spoons today have carried on the tradition of offering the opposite end of the spoon as a muddler, as described in the different styles below.
How Big is a Bar Spoon?
The scoop portion of a standard bar spoon is roughly one teaspoon (or 5 ml of liquid) with the measured substance flat across. So a “heaping teaspoon” of sugar would be a solid scoop, with a mound on top of the spoon.
The length of the handle can vary with bar spoons, but is meant to be longer than the tallest mixing glass or cocktail glass. Depending on the vessel you use to stir your drinks in, the length of the bar spoon should clear the top enough for your hand to comfortably stir without touching the glass.
I believe a length of 11.75” is as short as one should be, and most come in 12″ lengths.
Twist or No Twist?
The handle of bar spoons often (but not always) have a twist in them. While it makes a good looking spoon, this twist is not just for looks – it is engineered to help the bartender stir more efficiently. It allows one to twist the spoon smoothly while stirring.
Once you get the hang of it, a bar spoon without the twisted handle can be just as effective. Below, there is a more detailed explanation of how to use a bar spoon properly. It can be tricky!
What to Look for in a Bar Spoon
There are a few common types of bar spoons, which offer slightly different features. Any of the three types would be perfect for your bar, but some bartenders prefer one type to another, and these reasons will be explained below.
Types of Bar Spoons
Traditionally, all three types of bar spoons have a twisted handle. Below are the unique features of each style.
- American: The American bar spoon has a red cap on the end. It’s only worth mentioning as a type of bar spoon, but the red cap makes it look cheap, so it’s not the best option out of all the choices for the cocktail set.
- European: The European bar spoon has a flat disk on the end that can be used for muddling or breaking up ice. It often has a slightly smaller scoop, holding roughly half a teaspoon. Many bartenders prefer this type of bar spoon for it’s multifunctionality. An example of this type of muddler can be found here (link to view on Amazon).
- Japanese: The Japanese bar spoon also has a weighted teardrop on the opposite end from the spoon. This extra weight feels great and adds balance when stirring, so it has become a popular choice of expert bartenders.
Of course, there are a multitude of variations on these 3 main types of bar spoons, including some that do not have the twisted handle. However, while these might look good on your home bar, the twisted handle is a useful addition and serves a very specific purpose, as mentioned above.
Bar Spoon Materials
Bar spoons can be made of many different materials and some are even plated with a decorative coating, but I believe stainless steel is the best option for a bar spoon. Decorative coatings look nice but do not always last as long, especially if they are not cared for properly.
Stainless steel is the standard for restaurant kitchen tools because it is extremely corrosion resistant. That also makes it dishwasher safe, which is ideal when selecting a great bar spoon.
All three recommended bar spoons are stainless steel and dishwasher safe, but are also offered in different finishes, which need to be hand washed due to the decorative coating.
Bar Spoons are Useful Tools
Bar spoons are more useful than they look. They have many functions, and here are the most common ways they are used:
- Stir – the bar spoon is most commonly used in stirred drinks, and there is a method, seen below on how to use a bar spoon and recipes for some of the best stirred mocktails.
- Layer – some drinks are layered, meaning the ingredients are not mixed together but layered on top of one another. A bar spoon is a handy tool when making one of these beautiful beverages.
- Muddle – specifically for a more delicate muddling of herbs, like mint in the Mojito Mocktail.
- Measure– a bar spoon is roughly equal to a teaspoon, and can be used to measure syrups, sugar, jams, or any ingredient that would not be easy to pour out of a jigger, and will be stirred into the drink
- Garnish – a garnish is the final touch on a beverage, and one that makes an impact – both to incorporate smell into the way you taste your drink, but first, how it looks. Bar spoons are used to add garnish delicately, without having to put your fingers all over the garnish.
- Add ice – Adding a large ice ball to a glass can be a clumsy affair, unless you have a bar spoon to help lower it gently in place. Similar to its use in garnishing, it allows you to add ice without putting your hands all over the ice cube in someone else’s beverage.
Best Bar Spoons for Your Cocktail Set
Now that you know the three main types of bar spoons and their features, here are the top options that will fit perfectly in any set of cocktail tools for your home:
Best Overall Bar Spoon
Cocktail Kingdom – Teardrop Barspoon
Cocktail Kingdom is well known for its quality bar tools among industry experts, and this bar spoon is no exception. The Japanese style teardrop end is very comfortable in your hand, and makes for easier stirring than the other bar spoons tested. It comes in several nice finishes and lengths, but stainless steel is the only dishwasher safe version.
Best Bar Spoon for a Gift
A Bar Above – Smooth & Spiral Heavyweight Bar Spoons
Designed by a pair of bartenders, this set of bar spoons is the perfect gift. The weight is nice to hold and the set offers a twisted and smooth version with a weighted end.
The bar spoons are 12″ long and stainless steel, making them extra durable. They also come in a lovely copper finish, depending on your style preference.
Best Budget Bar Spoon
Hiware Stainless Steel Bar Spoon
The Hiware bar spoon has a nice feel to it and has a comfortable angled end weight. It’s stainless steel and looks great, but the stem seemed a little less sturdy than the other two bar spoons.
It works well as a bar spoon and will be a great addition to any home bar.
How to Use a Bar Spoon – Stirring
It is not that complicated, but there is a technique to using a bar spoon that goes beyond placing it in the glass and stirring. Always fill your mixing glass with ice, then add the ingredients. Then, here’s a simple step by step for how to use a bar spoon:
- Slide the bar spoon vertically along the inside of the glass all the way to the bottom, with the back of the spoon facing outward.
- With your hand and fingers pointing down, hold the stem of the spoon in between your fingers above the first knuckle (whichever finger feels comfortable, but not at the tip of your fingers). I prefer to place it in between my pointer and middle finger and lightly stabilize it with my thumb on the back.
- Using your wrist, move the spoon in a circular motion along the inside of the mixing glass. You will want to let the spoon twist naturally in between your fingers, not forcing the action. This takes some practice, so be patient.
Note: You will want to stir fast, to avoid the ice diluting your drink, and stir several circles in both directions, until the drink seems blended. With most stirred mocktails, you will strain the mixture with the appropriate strainer into a cocktail glass.
Cocktail Mixing Glass for Stirred Mocktails
You will need a vessel for stirring your mocktails, so consider purchasing a cocktail mixing glass, another essential tool for your home bar. The MOFADO Crystal Mixing Glass has a striking pattern perfect for displaying on your home bar (link to check price on Amazon).
It’s made of seamless lead-free crystal with a weighted bottom and has a liquid capacity of 18oz. It’s also a decorative place to store your bar spoon.
Best Mocktails to Make with a Bar Spoon
Now that you know how to use your bar spoon, it’s time to put it to work! Here are a few of the best stirred mocktails to make with your bar spoon.
Non Alcoholic Americano – this non alcoholic version of the classic Italian aperitivo was discovered while taste-testing Lyre’s recommended mocktails. It uses two of their non-alcholic spirits, and is a great non-alcoholic cocktail.
Non Alcoholic Caipirinha – using Caleño, a tropical alcohol-free spirit, this non alcoholic version of Caipirinha tastes like the real thing.
Non-Alcoholic Boulevardier – a stirred mocktail of three of Lyre’s spirits, this is a nod to a classic Boulevardier cocktail.
She Bites – this mocktail was discovered when tasting brand recommended drinks by Ghia, a delicious non alcoholic aperitif.
If you have used a bar spoon at all, you know using it properly is more important than what features it offers. That being said, my favorite bar spoon is the Cocktail Kingdom Stainless Steel Teardrop Barspoon.
It has weight to it, feels good in my hands, and makes this amateur feel like a professional. It’s easier to turn with the twisted handle than some of the decorative bar spoons I have used in the past.
Many professional bartenders use it, and other reviewers specifically state how well balanced it feels.
The other two recommendations also performed well: A Bar Above and Hiware. I believe you will be happy choosing any of these bar spoons.