Some people believe that Bartending is merely pouring booze into cups and giving it to people. Shame on them. I will not go so far as describing it as "a harmony of control and presentation" or "a celebration of knowledge and finely-honed skill." No. That would be ridiculous. Words like that are for wine servers. But Bartending is a legitimate skill, one that has procedure and form that must be learned if success is desired. This is a glossary of bar terms, and a listings of how-to's to get you primed for the later lessons in my page. But remember, it's better to do something once than to read about it several times. So get out there and pour!
Bartending, as an art, a science, or merely a skill, requires a person to possess these Personal tools.
In this guide, I can help you through the first three, but as for handling people, you're on your own.
Every Occupation requires some form of physical item to accomplish the task or tasks encountered through daily execution of that job. Bartending is no exception. Thankfully, the tools are very basic, and require very little intellegence to use, but a little manual dexterity does come in handy.
There are two main types of Shakers:
These tools tell you How Much of What is going into your drinks. There are many different types, with nearly identical uses. Go figure.
The Glassware found in a bar serves many other purposes than simply as a recepticle and a container for your drinks. In fact, many glasses are designed for a particular liquor. Brandy Snifters are large, and the wide bowl is cupped in the hand to warm the brandy, while the long-stemmed handle of the Champagne Glass accomplishes the opposite, keeping the drink cold. Appearance also counts when selecting glassware. A Martini is not a Martini if served in a beer mug, as the wine glass is ill-suited to holding the ice or quantity of liquid in a popular Highball. All this aside, here is a listing and description of some common glasses.
Frosting Glasses chills the glasses, and ultimatly, the drink. It also looks professional, and is a no-brainer to preform. Simply dip the glass in water and place it in a freezer for 30 minutes. Remove just before serving.
As a Bartender, your job is basically 20% content, and 80% appearance. Examples of this are evident in the different sets of sylish glassware, to the varius colored liquors in existance, and the best example of this: The Garnish. And these things take time to prepare. Your job begins even before the first drink is poured, because of the time required to prepare the "finishing touches" to your drinks. And so here is the section that will teach you to cut up some nifty garnishes, as well as give the recipes for two important ingredients for many drinks: Simple Syrup and Sour Mix.
As I said before, garnishes are one of those items that demonstrate the importance of appearance in the drinks that you pour. Garnishes very rarely add any change of flavor in the drinks, they are merely there for appearance, like parsley on a dinner plate. Fourtunatly, cutting these is not a major science, only a skill that needs to be taught once. There are three types of garnishes common to many mixed drinks: Wheels, Slices, and Wedges. Granted, there are others, such as olives, cocktail onions, marishino cherries, and celery stalks, but their use is often restricted to but a few drinks, and no prep work is required. So there. Whatever the type, garnishes should be kept chilled in a covered container until ready to serve.
Fruit Wheels are the easiest of the garnishes to prepare. These are cut from oranges most often, but lime and lemon wheels are possible.
Slices, simply put, are merely fruit wheels cut in half. Lime slices are most common, followed by orange slices.
Wedges are only slightly more difficult to prepare than the wheels. Lemons are the most common wedged fruit, followed by limes.
Many drinks call for an ingredient known as "Simple Syrup." Others list "Sour Mix" as part of the listing. So what are these concoctions anyway? Well, there's really nothing to them, but as you will see, they are often important.
The title of "Simple Syrup" holds no secrets. It really is simple. It is merely a concentrated mixture of syrup and water. Making this is no major task, either.
To make 16 oz. of Simple Syrup:
Unlike Simple Syrup, this mixture is a bit involved. Sour Mix contains lemon juice, egg white, and some sugar as well. It is added to Sours and many Highballs in place of lemon juice, and to add a bit of froth. Here's a good recipe for it.
You will need:
It's hard to beleive, but there is actually some order to the collage of bottles located behind the bar. These vary by the 'Tenders preferance, or by the frequency of certain drinks. This is the psychology regarding the basic arrangements: Efficiency above all else.
The most general and simplistic of setups, the Cocktail Bar, is one that is not difficult to learn. 70% of all mixed drinks can be made using this setup alone. Basically, the light liqours (Gin, Vodka, Rum) are grouped together to one side, and the dark liqours (Scotch, Blended Whiskey, Burbon) are to the other. The group that is used most often is placed to the handedness of the bartender, and to the age of the crowd. Generally speaking, a right-handed 'tender serving to a younger crowd would keep the lighter liqours to his right, for easy access. This placement of booze governs the placement of liqueurs and mixers. You will find that Dry Vermouth, for example, is placed near the Gin to facilitate the making of a Martini, while the Sweet Vermouth and Blended Whiskey are grouped for the making of a Manhattan. Club Soda is best placed by the Scotch, while the Coke should be within easy reach of the rum. Use your discretion when constructing your own setup, but keep efficiency in mind when placing the bottles, as well as utensils, ice, and garnishes. Whew.
So now that you have learned about bar tools, glassware, cutting fruit, and the arrangement of bottles, the next step is to learn about how to pour drinks. And even though it may seem somewhat daunting to memorize hundereds of recipes and amounts, not to mention prep and glassware, it is one of those things that is best taken a sip at a time.
There are actual techniques to pouring liquor beyond grabbing the bottle and dumping stuff out of it. And these methods will allow you to measure out exact amounts while preventing messes. Before I cover the methods, you should know how to grab the bottle and pour stuff out of it. An effective pour requires a Speed Pourer, among other things. To pour, grab the neck straight on, like you were shaking hands with it. Lift the bottle, and invert the ends so that the bottle is completely vertical and your elbow is raised slightly. There! That's all you need to know. On to the Methods.
The first, the "Jigger Method," is the easiest for the beginner to acheive an exact pour, but is somewhat awkward and slow. The liquid is poured into a Double Jigger, or some other form of measuring device, and then dispensed into the glass or shaker. As I said, it is slow when compared to the other methods, but there are several benefits to it. The first is that you will get a percise measure. For this reason, many bar managers will require you to use one to avoid over/under serving. Another plus, is that you can creat the illusion that you are serving more than you really are. By partially filling the Jigger, perhaps a half of an ounce short, then dumping it into the glass and following it with a "one-count" straight in the glass, you can make it appear that you are serving a full Jigger, as well as an additional splash. So you may get tipped more. It's all in the wrist.
The other method I will cover is the all-out "Speed Pour." For this, you rely on the ingeniuity of a little plastic spout, and your own ability to count seconds. For this, you invert the bottle as described before, and pour directly into your container of choice. As soon as the stream starts flowing, begin a "one-thousand-and-one" count. Count one second for each 1/2 oz. that is going into the drink. A 1 1/2 oz. pour would be three seconds, a 3 oz pour would be six, and so on. Easy, fast, and effictive, but it takes some practice to get comfortable with this one. A good practice technique is to fill an empty booze bottle with water, and put a speed pourer on it. (after finding a suitable purpose for the liqour, of course!) Practice pouring various measures into an unmarked container. Compare this amount with the intended amount in a measuring cup, and repeat. Soon you will be comfortable with this professional style of pouring.
The drinks known as "Fillers" make up about 70% of the World's Cocktail Recipes. Some of the drinks that fall into this category are the Gin and Tonic, the Screwdriver, and the Rum and Coke. Generally speaking, highballs are drinks that include liquor and mixers that are poured directly into a glass of the same name, usually over ice. No outside shaking or stirring is required. This is how to make a basic highball.
Now was that not easy? Pat yourself on the back. You now know how to mix 70% of the World's drinks. Congrats.
Stirred cocktails include some of the high-end drinks such as the Martini, the Manhattan, as well as others that are served "on the rocks," Like the White Russian, and the uhhh... Black Russian. Trust me, there are plenty of others that fall into this category. Stirring a drink is nessessary for several reasons.
There. Several good reasons. Now that you know why, here's how:
There is a variation on this process for those non-cocktail glass drinks that are served on the rocks. And this simply involves pouring the stuff into the ice-filled glass, and stirring it there. Wow.
At last! The defining activity of the Pro Bartender. Not only does this look cool, once you get it down, it shows others that you know what you're doing. Did I mention that it looks cool? Anyway, a good, sealable, cocktail shaker is needed for this, as you could of guessed. Shaking has it's advantages. Among these are:
How to Shake? Glad you asked. Here's some steps to the art. Please note that this is for using the Standard Shaker, not the Boston Shaker, which is silly.
Of the many cocktail recipes available, some are quite general, and can be customized to different liquors. For example, you can make a gin fizz with vodka, or modify a scotch highball to include rum. Such is the case of the recipes listed here. They are both common and popular, and are usually the first drinks a bartender learns.
Shake with ice, strain into a Collins Glass and top with 1 oz. club soda.
Serve in a Highball Glass, garnishwith lemon wedge.
Blend and serve with a straw. For a frozen daiquiri, add a cup of crushed ice, and blend. The fruit liqueur should be the same as the fresh fruit used, Strawberry Schnapps with fresh strawberries, etc.
Pour into a highball glass and serve.
Serve in a lime-garnished Highball Glass.
Shake and strain into a Collins Glass, top with 1 oz. Club Soda, garnish with cherry and orange.
Shake and strain into a Sour Glass, or over ice in an Old-Fashioned. Garnish with Cherry and Orange Slice.
Serve in a Highball Glass.
This concludes the Crash Course in Mixology 101. Hopefully, you will leave with a better understanding of this art/science/skill. With the knowledge presented here, you could be on your way to a rewarding carrer as a Bartender, or you will at least know how to manage your own household bar for a party or whatnot. Whatever you choose to do with this, is totally up to you, but hopefully, you have enjoyed these lessons. Now get out there and pour, you silly kids!
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