Proper Shaking

Shaking is an art.  There are many styles, techniques, and influences (for example, the Japanese have long been pioneers in the study of cocktail shaking).  But shaking is functional too.  And the function is to mix, aerate, and super-chill the ingredients inside.  For these reasons, my philosophy when shaking cocktails is the following:   “Either shake that drink as hard as humanly possible, or stir it.” Watching some bartenders go through the motion of building a cocktail in a shaker tin, then gingerly swirling the tin with lethargic effort drives me insane!  There is no purpose or point to doing a mediocre shake, barely lifting the tin over your shoulder.  So if you commit to shake, follow the points listed below for professional results. 1.) Ice. Always fill the shaker glass to the top with ice after adding solid ingredients (like muddled mint) but before adding any liquid ingredients.  If you add ice after adding the liquid you are going to splash your carefully measured concoction.  Every time.  So just add the ice first.  And don’t be shy with the amount.  Ice will take up on average 50% of the space, so for example if you fill a 16oz pint glass to the top with ice cubes, you’ll have about 8oz remaining for your liquid ingredients.  Try it with a measuring cup. 2.) Effort. Cap it tight, and shake the living-day-lights-out-of-it.  I’m talking HARD, VIOLENT, UNRELENTING.  Don’t stop until the tin of the shaker is frosted over with condensation and it’s almost too cold to hold.  You’ll know it when you feel it. 3.) Service. Always strain out the shaker-ice. And if serving...

Essential Bar Tools

Here’s a list of bar tools:  (More details and pictures coming soon)   Shaker:   Strainer   Oxo Measuring Cup.  Opt for the measuring cup over the traditional jigger.  Lore more about how Jiggers can thow off measuring accuracy.   Bar Spoon   Muddler   Pairing knife and cutting board Bar mop Towels...

Measure Measure Measure

MEASURE. MEASURE. MEASURE. Would you expect a professional baker to bake you a cake by eyeballing the amount of flour, sugar, milk, and baking powder used in the batter?  Of course not!  But for some reason, this is a reasonable expectation for bartenders, and some even think it’s a badge of honor.  Cocktails these days are averaging 4-6 fluid ounces, with some recipes calling for as little as 1/4 fl oz of an ingredient. Don’t risk ruining your cocktail.  Measuring every ingredient is the best way to create tasty beverages with repeatable results....

Ice Is Important

Too many people take ice for granted!  Ice’s sole role in most every cocktail recipe is to chill the drink down to a refreshing temperature.  Like a ticking time bomb, the ice’s release of water into our cocktail will slowly take the beverage into a bland watered-down mess.  But in choosing the right ice, we can slow down this dilution to give our consumer time to enjoy their drink.  In no time at all, you’ll be able to quickly declare if you have “good ice” or “bad ice”.  Look for these 3 qualities when choosing ice for your next beverage: 1.) Size. Unless the recipe specifically calls for crushed or shaved ice, the cubes you choose should always be as large as functionally possible.  Too many commercial ice machines spit out chips or tablets of ice that always lead to over-diluted mixed drinks.  Large cubes or spheres of ice will have a lower surface-area-to-mass-ratio resulting in significantly less dilution over the life of the beverage. 2.) Density. Ideal ice will be clear through, with little to no white cloudy crystal formations inside.  A mix of harmless causes like air bubbles, turbulence during freezing, or water minerals / impurities can cloud a cube.  While this won’t affect your cocktail immediately, as the ice melts and reveals these impurities, the rate of dilution will increase.  A nice and dense ice cube will chill your drink with the least possible amount of dilution. 3.) Temperature. You are probably saying “Duh” right now.  Yes, all ice is cold, but some ice is “colder” than others.  Ice stored in a freezer, and removed only to be used...