Don’t dump vodka and juice into a red solo cup and call it a drink. You’re better than that. Learn how to mix drinks like the pros and forget those $10 cocktails. With a little practice, you can make better drinks at home for less. Your friends are going to love you.
Here’s what you’ll need in your bartending tool kit.
Shakers come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Some are made of sleek, cool metal. Others come with drink measurements printed on the exterior, making it easy to measure drinks without memorizing a long list of ingredients.
Then there’s the matter of cobbler shakers versus Boston shakers. You’ve probably seen a cobbler shaker before. It has three pieces: a barrel, a lid with a built-in strainer, and a cap. A Boston shaker has just two pieces. You’ll need a separate strainer if you want to serve cold, smooth cocktails.
Shaking a cocktail alters the drink’s appearance, temperature and to some degree, taste. As a rule, shake cocktails that contain fruit juice, cream liqueurs or other heavy mixers. Ian Fleming’s James Bond famously requested his martinis “shaken, not stirred,” a request that has puzzled scientists and booze aficionados for decades. Debate rages on, but many agree that drinks like Bond’s vodka martini are probably best stirred, not shaken.
An extra big one for extra fun:
Drinks are measured in ounces and a jigger is the measuring cup of the bartending world. A standard jigger has two cup-shaped ends of different sizes. These cups either measure one ounce and ½ ounce or 1 ½ ounce and ¾ ounce. You can, of course, also use an actual measuring cup with ounce measures on it, but where’s the fun in that? A jigger does the trick and looks so much cooler.
How about this bad boy:
A bar spoon looks similar to a regular old spoon, but it has a flat head rather than a concave one. Use a bar spoon to stir cocktails that are primarily composed of spirits and light mixers. Manhattans and Negronis, for example, are usually stirred rather than shaken.
Bar spoons are also essential for making layered drinks and shots, like the B-52. There are lots of online tutorials on making layered drinks, but here’s the gist: pour the heaviest liquid into the glass first, then place the bar spoon against the inside of the glass and pour the next liquid over the bar spoon. This should form two distinct layers of liquid. If you’re struggling, try popping your bar spoon in the freezer for a few minutes. The effort is worth it; there’s nothing more impressive than a layered drink.
Sterling silver makes everything better, right…?
Ever made guacamole with a mortar and pestle? A muddler is a pestle of sorts. The tool is used to mash fruits and herbs, releasing oils and enhancing flavors. Traditionally made of wood, a muddler is essential for making popular drinks like mojitos and mint juleps. Mint doesn’t crush itself, you know.
Get yourself a cool one:
Learn to love these tools and you’ll be a whiz at mixing drinks in no time. Now, if only alcohol wasn’t so expensive…
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