Choose a Site
Aug. 6, 2021
With quality ingredients, a few well-chosen bartending tools and a little know-how, you can create flavourful, professional-quality drinks. Take your cocktail-making skills to the next level with these bartender tips for beginners.
Several flashy gadgets are available to the home mixologist. Feel free to explore and have fun. But you only need a few basics to create delicious cocktails.
In addition to looking cool while you use it, a shaker allows you to easily shake ingredients to chill and dilute drinks that are served “up” — shaken or stirred with ice to cool, but served without ice in the glass. Shakers come in several sizes, but the larger 700ml size allows flexibility for cocktails that might have juices in them. Shakers are also used to roll cocktails (pouring the ingredients back and forth to mix). Most importantly NEVER put effervescent ingredients into a shaker.
Consistently delicious cocktails require precise measurements. A two-sided jigger offers the flexibility of precise 25ml and 50ml measures. For added convenience, choose one with a line indicating 15ml. Measuring cups are OK in a pinch, but why not go for the sexier look of using a jigger?
Typically speaking you should always stir a cocktail with ingredients that are mostly spirits – think Martini Cocktails or Manhattans. You should shake drinks that contain juices or other ingredients that can benefit from the aeration. Stirring allows you to gently mix ingredients while minimizing dilution from ice, but most importantly allows a drink to stay colder longer as it has less dilution. This differs from shaking which causes extra dilution as the ice is chipped while being jostled about.
With their long skinny handles, bar spoons also make it easier to reach the bottom of tall glasses and pitchers. The spiral handle is helpful when creating the visual effect of layered drinks which use alcohol of different densities. Pouring the alcohol slowly down the spiral shaft allows for a smooth flow and minimizes splashing.
Muddlers are used to bring out the flavours of ingredients. When fresh fruit or herbs are placed in a glass, a muddler can be used to press down and crush them to reveal more of their natural flavours.
Silicone ice trays in various shapes provide opportunities to cool your drink in style. Ice of differing shapes and sizes can create added drama and interest for a beautiful presentation.
The right tools and techniques elevate the cocktail experience. The following tried-and-true tips will get you off to an excellent start.
Keep bar tools and glassware clean and well maintained by washing and drying them regularly.
You’ll want your favourite drink to taste the same every time, so don’t leave it to chance — measure your ingredients.
If a cocktail is shaken with ice and is also served with ice, strain off the ice used during mixing, and pour the drink onto fresh ice for a more refined presentation. Ice is the second most important ingredient to a cocktail other than the spirit – so don’t skimp!
Glasses are specifically designed to enhance cocktails. Become familiar with the various types of glassware and their specific uses.
After expertly crafting your cocktail, give it the presentation it deserves, and don’t be afraid to show it off on your social media. Before pouring your drink, make sure the glass is clean and free of dust and fingerprints. Then take things a step further and enhance every cocktail with an appropriate garnish. It can be as simple as rimming the glass with flavour-infused salt or adding fresh fruit.
Using a bar cart can also add flair to your cocktail-making routine. It provides a dedicated place to house your tools and show off your skills. Include bar cart essentials — the tools listed above along with your favourite spirits and mixers.
Now it’s time to put your skills to work by crafting masterful cocktails. Need inspiration? Try some inspired Grey Goose cocktail recipes.