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When it comes to stirring cocktails, does it matter which spoon you use?


Published Aug. 14, 2020.

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What You Need To Know

A barspoon is an essential tool for making cocktails. With a relatively long handle and a small, slender bowl, it’s designed for stirring drinks in tall shakers and for fishing garnishes such as olives and cherries out of their jars. Occasionally it’s used to crack ice or to make layered cocktails (drinks with different spirits carefully poured in discrete layers, creating a striped effect). Some barspoons come with an additional tool on their opposite ends, such as a small, thick disk for muddling fruit or a miniature fork for spearing garnishes instead of scooping them out. 

We’d never tested barspoons before, so we bought eight models, priced from about $4 to about $23, and used them to stir drinks in shakers of different heights, retrieve cherries and olives from their jars, and make layered cocktails. We also tried the other ends of the spoons, where applicable, using them to muddle and spear ingredients.

Spoon Length Is Important

All the spoons did a fine job of stirring the drinks, but a few factors made certain models easier to use. Right off the bat, we discovered that the length of the spoon was critical. Of the spoons we tested, we preferred those that measured from 10.5 to 12.25 inches long. Once inserted into our favorite shakers, the handles of these spoons rose about 4 to 6 inches above the rims, providing plenty of room for even large hands to hold them without feeling cramped. Measuring nearly 16 inches, one particularly long spoon made it feel as if we were stirring our drinks with the proverbial 10-foot pole. Unless we choked up on the handle to get closer to the bowl of the spoon, it was hard to muster any control over the ice we were trying to agitate—never mind retrieve olives or cherries from their jars. Spoons of a more moderate length were easier to hold and control. 

Twisted Handles Are Best

The style of the spoon handle was also important. Handles that were straight and smooth—similar to the ones on soupspoons—proved more slippery and harder to grasp, especially when wet. We much preferred models that had twisted handles, as they provided a little more surface area to grab onto as we stirred. Of the models with twisted handles, we liked those that were twisted from top to bottom because they let us choose where we wanted to put our hands; models that were twisted only in the middle of the handle limited our grip options.

The Size and Angle of the Bowl Matter

Finally, we considered the bowl of the spoon—the part that actually agitates the ice. When it came to stirring the drinks, we had a slight preference for spoons with medium-size bowls. Bowls that measured about an inch at their widest di...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.

Miye Bromberg

Miye is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She covers booze, blades, and gadgets of questionable value.