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The mixology must-have accessories

You don't have to be in a five star hotel to sip the perfect cocktail. And you don't need to splash out on expensive gadgets to make your signature vodka martini or a classic manhattan. A few essential tools will help you become a master mixologist from the comfort of your own home. We have selected a few basic items you should not be without. Now is the time to stock up, practice and start pouring.

No other accessory conjures up cocktail chic quite like a shaker does. This device is used for mixing the different components of a drink together and cooling it down with ice. A shaker comes in several types, so why not choose one to suit your style? For a touch of 1920s Hollywood glamour opt for the Cobbler: this 3-piece utensil is made up of a shaking tin, a lid and a practical built-in strainer. All the parts fit together snugly and with its sleek design, it will look nice in your living room.

Alternatively, to infuse a more professional feel to your bar, select the simpler two-piece 'Boston', which is made up of a metal shaking tin and a mixing glass or 'French shaker', another two-piece in which both cans are made of metal. It may take a bit of practice to get a good, tight seal between the two, but once you do, you will feel an irresistible urge to shake those drinks and show off your bartending talents! Don't forget the strainer to complete the look.

Before you start shaking your stuff around the living room, heed this tip from the pros: according to cocktail scientists, a vigorous eight-second shake is all that is required to bring your libation down to the correct temperature and level of dilution – whatever your dancing style!

Stirring Spoon

Stir it Up!

Drinks, as we well know, can come both shaken or stirred. For entertaining, this classy piece of cutlery is a must. Its long handle and delicate shape lends an air of grace and charm to any bartending act. Choose one with a spiraling handle. It looks pretty but also serves a function: the twisted stem mixes the drink more thoroughly and it also helps to push the liquid down to the bottom of the glass rather than moving it horizontally. This is especially useful if you want to make a 'layered' drink such as the tequila sunrise.

For the perfect stir, hold the spoon loosely between your ring and middle fingers. Keep the bowl of the spoon pressed against the inside wall of the glass and stir for no more than 40 seconds. Your drink will be perfectly chilled.

Citrus Peeler and Cocktail Sticks

The Cherry on the Cake

It's all in the detail. A curled lemon peel daintily perched on the rim of a glass, or a few olives placed delicately inside a dry martini will confirm your status as the perfect host. Investing in a citrus peeler will make the task easier and means you won't have to fiddle with a sharp knife while you're busy entertaining. Don't forget a bag of cocktail sticks too.