Bar-tools are a bartender’s best friend. Make sure you have your tool kit and ice before you begin to study this section.
Read about the tools, practice using them, then move on to the next.
Have fun shaking and stirring!
You could only arrive at a name like ‘jigger’ one way: by nobody knowing what the heck to call it. There are many legends around this simple little tool, and here’s ours:
In New Orleans, a Creole apothecarian named Antoine Amédée Peychaud (who we’ll learn more about later on…) was using a ‘thing-a-ma-jigger’ like this to measure ingredients into his custom tinctures. Of course, where Peychaud came from, it was used in French cooking as a tool to hold an egg in boiling water; and it did have a proper name: a ‘coquetier’. Once bartenders around town started placing these on bar tops to indicate they were ready to mix drinks, confusion ensued around the name as one reporter (drunkenly) overheard a patron of French descent point to it and (drunkenly) declare ‘coquetier!’ - which sounded to his English ears like ‘Cock-Tail’, and hence the name of one of America’s greatest cultural contributions appeared in print as such - a misinterpretation
All legends aside, this silly little contraption is serious business for anyone who wants to make a proper cocktail. You’ll need it to measure each liquid ingredient in order to ensure balance and consistency with each drink. Watch Adrian gettin’ jiggy with it below:
Say this five times as fast as you can:
“Poor sports pour spirits poorly, but pro scouts pour spirits purely with pour spouts!”
Alrighty then! Now you’re ready for our first real exercise…
FREE POURING VS. USING A JIGGER
Let’s get the hang of the pouring motion and timing with a little practice. You’ll be pouring 1.5oz servings from a bottle with a standard pour spout into a rocks glass - then dumping that into your jigger (on the 1.5oz side up) to see how accurate your internal count is!
TO GET STARTED:
1. Fill a 25oz bottle with water, and cap with a standard pour spout.
2. Line up a rocks glass and your jigger, with the jigger on the 1.5oz side up
3. Make sure you have a sink or dump bucket within range! You’ll need to dump out the water after each measuring.
TIP: it helps to have some kind of rhythmic music playing while you do this! Our favorite music to practice with is any Tribe Called Quest record.
READY? Hold that bottle - your thumb or index finger should always be on top of the pour spot, holding it in place. [Careful not to block the airhole.]
SET? Free pour with Standard Spout - Can you get 5 perfect pours in a row?
NOW we’re going to do that same exercise again - but with a Curved Jet spout. So, your count should be half as long (or twice as fast!)
Practice each of these as often as you can. Once you can get five perfect pours in a row, aim for 10 the next day; then 20 the next, and so on...
We love 007, but he was either a big conspiracy theorist trying to test a bar for explosive ingredients - or he just didn’t know a proper Martini. For any cocktail that is heavy on booze, requires no juice, cream, or egg white, or soda on top - you will want to be stirring it in a mixing glass. Stirring is best because we merely want to blend the elements - not over-dilute them.
Most commonly, you’ll be using this for stirring. It can, however, be utilized in many other ways such as:
1 - picking out cherries or olives from your garnishes
2 - layering shots or pouring a float on top of a cocktail
Originally, this was a repurposed sink drain that was placed atop each Mint Julep as a means of keeping the mint sprigs out of a drinker’s face. Some genius quickly figured there must be a better way, so instead it was used as a means of straining cocktails over the ice and mint. Minds were blown. [Then a better strainer came along anyhow]. Still, many high-end bars will carry julep strainers for old-fashioned model stirred cocktails as a nod to tradition.
Although some bartenders (usually in small town dives) can still be seen lugging the pint-glass-tin combo, and your friend’s uncle’s 50th Birthday party might have people mixing their own drinks in the Cobbler shaker (with three pieces that are tedious to break apart), the French shaker set is the most commonly used among modern bars. These three ingredients will always indicate that a cocktail should be shaken, not stirred: juice, cream & egg white.
When building a cocktail to be shaken, always start by placing the small tin face-up on your scuffer. Once all ingredients are measured in, fill the big tin with ice (to roughly the height of the small tin), then pour the small tin into the big tin and give it a nice firm hit on the top to seal it.
Every bartender has their own shaking style, and will use this as their signature. Some things to keep in mind as you develop your signature shake:
1 - make sure the tins are sealed together (air tight) before shaking
2 - hold the tin (one hand or two) horizontal to the ground, and parallel to the bar
3 - shake for at least 10 seconds, ideally 15. You should hear the ice cracking at the bottom of both tins as you shake, and they’ll start to feel too cold to hold!
Breaking the seal:
1 - With one hand, hold the big tin on the bar top, the small tin face-down inside it.
2 - Give the side of the two tins a good whack with your open hand.
3 - with that hand, start to twist the small tin as you pull it up and off the big tin.
You’ll then grab your…
This is the most commonly used strainer. Not all are created equal, but the good ones will keep ice from entering your intended vessel. Place the hawthorne strainer ‘slinky-side-down’ on top of your big tin before turning over the glass. IF your vessel is a coupe glass,
you’ll also want to use a...
This will help you keep the tiny ice particles, fruit pulp, and sugary residues from entering your coupe glass - so your cocktail looks squeaky-clean! Always hold the mesh strainer above the rim of the glass, never inside it.
We know, it sounds like the name of a villain in a Batman movie. But it’s real handy when you need to crush ice (see: Mai Tai), dissolve sugar cubes (see: Old Fashioned), lightly extract essences from herbs (see: Mojito), and - in some cases - to juice berries or fruit. When crushing ice, it’s ok to go Psycho! (an Alfred Hitchcock film) on them, but for all other purposes, there’s a little more finesse involved:
Hold the stick flat-side up in your palm, like the Statue of Liberty holds the torch
Then, remembering that this is 2019 and our Statue of Liberty currently stands in irony, we turn the stick upside down into the bottom of the tin or glass
Muddle with a gentle turning motion
TIP: with herbs such as mint - you do not want to go heavy-handed! Many herbs have a self-defense mechanism that dispenses a bitter component when being attacked (or chewed, or muddled too aggressively - perhaps by a bartender who is having to make a Mojito for the 100th time that day). Think of light finger-taps upon the herb saying softly, ‘wake up, honey… we’re going to Disneyland!’
One end is a bottle-opener for beer bottle caps, and (hopefully) the other end is able to be utilized for pulling off pour spouts!
Once you master the above skills, you can start adding a little flair to you style using the techniques below: