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 Tending Bar: Pouring the Good Stuff

How you pour is a reflection of your talent, generosity, and temperament. There are three traditional ways, each with their strengths and weaknesses, of dispensing alcohol. Some shops have also begun using metered poors to control and monitor the amount of alcohol going into their drinks. We don't cover the metered pour; if you are going to get a job that meters the dispensation of alcohol they will explain the use of the devices.


The Jigger Method:
A jigger is an ounce and a half measure, which is also the size of most shot glasses if a jigger is unavailable. If you have a jigger which is also attached to a pony shot, the jigger measure is the larger one. When using a jigger under the watchful eyes of your guests, you want to be sure to fill the jigger as close to the brim as possible to give the impression of a generous pour. Although it is the most accurate measure, the jigger method is slow, messier, and may be perceived as being amateurish or cheap as you meter out alcohol to your guests.

The Two-Finger Method:
When pouring into a highball full of ice, an ounce and a half of alcohol will tend to fill the glass to the same point. Try this once with a jigger full of water, and wrap two fingers around the glass so that the top of your first digit lines up with the level of the liquid. Each time you mix a drink, grasp the glass, and use your finger as a guide to how full to make the glass. This method is somewhat limited and may slow you down somewhat, but is fast for single drinks and appears thoroughly professional.

The Three-Count Technique:
Speed-pourers are wonderful, wonderful things. Chances are you won't have a speed-pourer for each bottle of liquor in your arsenal, but at the beginning of an evening of mixing drinks you'll be happier if you slide speed-pourers into the alcohols that you plan to use the most that evening. You should always orient the speed-pourer the same way relative to the label on the bottle so that you don't have to check to see which way it is pointing. You do, of course, get extra points if your guests are able to see the labels on your premium liquors.

To use a speed-pourer, grab the bottle with speed-pourer inserted in it and turn it completely upside down over the glass. Count slowly to three, and you'll have dispensed one and a half ounces. Fill an empty bottle with water and practice exactly filling a shot glass. Once you've done this a dozen or so times, you should have learned the cadence to quickly pouring drinks and be able to effortlessly and rapidly prepare drinks.

Next steps:

This article is the second article in a ten article series designed to transform people new to drink mixing into competent bartenders. Click for the next article in the series, Building Highballs.

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