We've gathered a complete list of popular bar equipment
which is available here,
but we suggest that you begin by purchasing a basic
bar set. Bar sets tend to include the following
There are two types of shakers, the European shaker
and the Boston (or American) shaker. The European
shaker is approximately half a liter in size, and is
made of either metal or glass. When using a Eurpoean
shaker, you will add the ingredients to the glass and
attach the top to shake the drink. When you're
done shaking the drink, the top comes apart to reveal
an internal cocktail strainer. The European shaker
is easier to learn how to use, easier to clean, but
somewhat less impressive. We have yet to find
any European cocktail shaker which is any better or
any worse than any other, but we prefer the styling
of this shaker available through the DrinkStreet Store.
We prefer the Boston shaker, which is nothing more
than a metal cup and a glass cup. When using the
Boston shaker to shake a drink, you combine your ingredients
in the glass and cap the top with the metal cup. As
you shake the beverage, ice will form and seal together
the two parts of the shaker. Since there is no top,
there is also no built-in strainer - the bartender must
fit a cocktail strainer over the top of the metal cup
to strain the drink. Our favorite Boston Shaker,
for price and performance, is available from our web store and includes a simple Boston Shaker. We also recommend that you pick up a cocktail strainer while you're there.
A bar spoon has four separate functions:
- The twisted handle is used to slow the progress
of alcohol into the glass when making layered drinks.
You can also use only the back of the spoon to quickly
float an ingredient.
- The stem is ideal for stirring drinks.
- The spoon portion can be used to pick up garnishes
without touching them, which is required for professional
bartenders in some states.
- The spoon portion is often used as a muddler. Muddling
is when you crush two things together, such as bitters
and sugar in a Sazerac.
Before we dive in to telling you the particulars of
shaking and stirring drinks, there are a few terms we'd
like to mention. Likely you've heard most of these words
before, but there are a few particulars that we'd like
you to be aware of:
Blending - Some drinks
need to be blended to mix the ingredients. When
using an electric blender to blend ice, partially blend
the ice before adding anything else. After the
ice has been broken into chips, use the hole in the
top of the blender's cover (called the drop slot) to
add other ingredients. The general rule is that
you should add frozen items first and liquids last.
Floating - Floating,
or layering, means to add a layer of liquor to the top
of the drink. You can use the back of a bar spoon
to quickly float an alcohol on the top of your drink.
Read more about layering drinks here.
Frosting - A frosted
glass is one which has a thin layer of ice over it.
To frost a glass, place the glass in water and
then freeze for approximately half an hour. Because
water does not stick to glass, it is easier to frost
pewter and other metal cups.
Garnish - When decorating
a drink it is common to also add a lime wedge or cherry
to make it more attractive. When the decoration of a
drink also impacts the taste of the drink, it is called
a garnish. Advice on how to garnish drinks is
Garbage - If you add
something to decorate a drink which does not influence
the flavor, it is called garbage. Examples include plastic
swords, plastic monkies, and a fireman's hat. Advice
on how to add garbage to drinks is available here.
Mixing - When mixing
a drink, first add the ice, then the alcohol, then the
mixers. This build order is often also called
"building" a drink, and it tends to keep the
alcohol the same cold temperature within the drink.
Muddling - To muddle
something is to smash it against the sides of the glass.
We recommend that you use either a wooden muddler or
a bar spoon with attached muddler for this purpose to
avoid scarring the glassware.
Rimming - With drinks
like the lemon
drop or the margarita,
bartenders are encouraged to rim the glass with salt
or sugar. The easiest way to do this is to first
rub a lime or lemon across the rim of the glass. Then,
you should set the glass rim-down in a plate of salt
or sugar and twist the glass until the rim has been
submerged about an eight of an inch into the salt or
sugar. When you life the glass out, it should have a
thick coating of either salt or sugar.
Stirring - Most carbonated
drinks won't require more than a couple quick stirs
with a stirrer or the back of your bar-spoon, but non-carbonated
drinks will benefit from as many as a dozen quick stirs.
Stirring is meant to evenly mix the alcohol and the
mixers without clouding the drink.
Shaking - When shaking
a drink be sure to firmly grab your cocktail shaker
and aggressively shake it about a dozen times to fully
mix the ingredients. Shaken drinks will be cloudier
but more thoroughly mixed. When James Bond requested
his Martini shaken, not stirred, he was doing something
a bit avant garde - many people believe that shaking
a martini bruises the gin and detriments the flavor.
We don't believe that it does, and that risky rapscallion
James apparently doesn't, either.
This article is the first 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, Pouring