There has been a lot of thought and design smarts used in the cocktail world, most of the time it goes completely unoticed. Here I'll be going over all the cocktail equipment I use for making my drinks. I'll explain what and how to use them.
One of the most important pieces of equipment to a bartender and so is finding the one that works for you. Below are 3 different types, there are many more but these are the most common.
Firstly (Left) the classic Boston Tin and Glass - Used around the world by all types of bartenders. Simple to use, fill the glass with your cocktail ingredients place the tin on top, give it a good bang on top and shake it like Tom Cruise.
The glasses are reinforced but not unbreakable, you could swap for a pint glass if you wish but be aware that with the repeated banging, they will break.
Hint: If you cant get the top off with the Glass pointing towards to ceiling, you'll see a crescent moon shape or Smile, hit the side of the smile with the palm of your hand where the tin and glass meet.
Second (Middle) is the iconic 3 piece shaker or cobbler shaker, many people use and an old one of these lying in the back of the kitchen cupboard. The set consist of a tin, strainer and lid. These are great kits as they cut out the need for a strainer, used highly in Japanese style cocktail making and being more common in cocktail bars today. Highly easy to use just fill the tin with your ingredients and place the remaining two pieces on tom pushing down slightly.
Hint: These types of shakers don't need a bang to seal them, that will just make them awkward and sometimes impossible to undo..
Finally (Right) that leaves us with the Tin on Tin set, this consist on two tins a Boston and a julep or sometimes called a cheater tin. Used in the same way as the Boston Tin and Glass however these have a much better thermal dynamic effect on the drink (Thats my was of saying they get cold faster). This ends with less dilution in your drink. That coupled with the fact they cant break on you is fantactic!
These are all great options, for work I prefer to use the Tin on Tin as like I said they speed up the drink making and cant break, at home I have a lovely Japanese Usagi 3 Piece shaker which was a present. There are also Tommie Shakers out there which are becoming more popular Monkey Shoulder whiskey are using them again they are great but for now I'll stick to Tin on Tin. What do you use?
Sticking with my rule of three we've moved on to Strainers.
I believe strainers are something the cocktail enthusiast at home always over looks. Straining allows you to move the liquid from the Boston glass or tin without dropping all the ice in you've used to shake with.
First (Left) we have a Hawthorn strainer. The most common of the 3 and most widely used. It consist of 2 parts a metal paddle and a removable metal coil. the little ears you see poking our are designed to sit on top of your Boston tin or glass and the coil to catch any large fruit or ice bits. The coil coming off and can also be used to help whip cream and milk. There is also a lip at the top of the handle which is design to help you push the strainer onto the tin for stablility, aswell as creating a hole for you to 'straw dip' your drink and still look professional!
Hint: Rule of thumb if it's shaken use a Hawthorn
Secondly (Middle) is the Julep strainer. Julep strainers are one piece strainer shaped like a large, flat, holey, metal spoon. They are used with stirred drinks where there are no ice chip to just large cubes and for a technique called throwing.
Hint: Rule of thumb if it's stirred use a Julep strainer
Lastly (Right) is the most important one of them all a Fine strainer or Double strainer.
Ever had a nice cocktail but there are loads of bits of ice floating in it? I hate to say it, in my opinion your bartender was being lazy and not fine straining the ice shards and bits out. Used to catch the smaller bits of fruit and ice that a hawthorn and julep can't, using a fine strainer can improve the texture of a drink massively.
Hint: Rule of thumb if you're using fresh fruit use a fine strainer
In otherwords Measuring Cups
Bartenders who aren't free pour trained will use some sort of measuring device.
Firstly (Left) Government Stamped Jiggers, each labeled with the correct amount, simply fill to brim for the required amount. These are great for constancy.
Secondly (Middle) Japaneses Jiggers. Most are marked with multiple measure and will reduce the amount of jiggers using up space on the bar.
Lastly (Right) OXO Measuring Cup. These are great for the home bars and cocktail competitions loads of measures available and can use ML or Oz'.
Hint: These need to be flat otherwise you'll over/under pour. I wouldn't recommend these for use in a bar and they can slow down service but used in the right way they are great.
Again there are a few different designs of Bar Spoons out there but we'll just talk about the most common today.
Pictured to the right you can seen its well ....a big spoon.
A spoon is a utensil consisting of a small shallow bowl, oval or round, at the end of a handle. It is used primarily for serving. Spoons are also used in food preparation to measure, mix, stir and toss ingredients.
- Wikiapedia, 2015
Now we've cleared that up, bar spoons are primarily used to stir cocktails over ice which is a different method used than Shaking.
Bar Spoons have a spiraled center and circular disc at one end this is used to slow liquid down when layering a cocktail
Hint: The penny end can also be used as a muddler with good quality spoons.
A simple piece of kit designed to mash/smash and beat up fruit, spices and just about anything you want to get flavor out of.
You can get them made of mood, plastic and metal so find the one thats right for you.
When using I've found it's best to use a push and twist motion doing into the fruit this will be the quickest way and will relieve a lot of pressure from your wrists if you're doing this often.
Hint: When looking for a muddler avoid painted wood, these will scratch on the side of your tins and you don't want paint bits in your drink!
The mighty mixing glass!
Japanese in design, mixing glasses are for well....mixing in. Yup they made a glass for you to stir stuff in.
I know what you're thinking can't you do that in any glass? Yes, yes you can... but this one is better.
Heavily wighted bottoms mean you don't need a hand to hold the glass in place.
Curved sides give a smoother stir meaning you're not fighting the ice to turn, this also creates less ice chips in your drink.
Lastly it has an nice lip to pour from so you don't loose any tasty cocktail goodness.
Hint: The term Yarai doesn't reffer to a brand name but the cut crystal pattern embost in the glass.
You'll use these the most out of every piece of equipment mentioned here.
Pour Spouts, Speed Pours the like are designed to give a consistent flow from a bottle of liquid making it easy for general and free pouring.
They have 2 holes one is just big enough to allow air into the bottle leaving the other free to expel liquid.
In the picture is a Black bottle top or Bottle Johnnie (Not a joke.... people call them that...). These are a simple and easy way to seal your bottles at the end of a shift to stop flies and bacteria getting into the bottle.
Shaking a drink is possible the most iconic cocktail method ever. Whenever you walk into a cocktail bar you hear the sound of ice clashing together inside a tin.
There are many ways to shake but the easiest is a simple American shake, backwards and forwards over the shoulder. The key to this shake is to shake hard and fast not limp biscuits here!
Shaking will chill and dilute your cocktail quickly and efficiently. This is take the edge off the spirits as well are aerating the drink.
There are many more shakes a European and Japanese are different styles. These teciniques and harder to learn and requiere a lot of practise so to begin we'll just Tom Cruise it up.
Stirring is a great tecnique for incoporating liquids, it will chill and dilute your drink without aerating it. This will keep your cocktail translution and you are able to control the dilution much better than shaking.
To stir a drink you can use eaither the spoon or the penny end.
Slide the spoon end down the side of the glass and rotate in a circular motion using your fingers to push the spoon round
The Penny is placed under the first layer of ice and will very easily move the entire block of ice.
The oldest cocktail technique dating back to the Song Dynasty in china.
This method almost became extinct however now there are pioneers who are trying to revive this method back to its former glory.
So what is it?
Throwing like stirring and shaking will chill and dilute your cocktail but also will aerate it in a way no other technique can.
You pass your liquid from one vessel to another (one containing Ice) this will aerate the drink and increase is aromatic quality
massively. Any drink containing a wine based product such as Vermouth, Sherry, Port, Apervios, Amaros will benefit from being thrown.
You can throw any drink with these in such as a Negroni, Manhattan and Martini.
It's much harder to explain so I have linked a video where Stuart Hudson explains the history and how to of Throwing.
Here is a simple technique for making a cocktail look fantactic the the left is a B52 but you may also have had a Long Island Iced Tea or Kir Royal layered.
To layer a drink firstly you need two liquids of different consistency's, the B52 have 3 layers but they Baileys is used in the middle allowing it to be layered and then layered on.
On technique to do this, take a bar spoon place the penny slightly above the liquid and slowly pour the liquid down the stem of the spoon which should then start to layer on top.
The controversial Fine strain!
So I've explained what a fine strainer is but thought I'd put put a photo and an explanation as to why we do this!
So there are arguments about thermal dynamic and texture saying fine straining takes away from this. I disagree, I agree it changes the texture slightly (and I'm mean slightly) but I don't believe or enjoy having
ice shards floating in my drink.
I fine strain all drinks that go in a glass without ice or have had muddled fruit or spice in them.
Hint: Rule of thumb is there's small bits in it use a fine strainer
I apologies for the pot belly in the photo. We served cake in that bar....
Using a Hawthorn strainer is simple, you can see my hand on the tin and I'm using my index finger to secure the tin in place with the lip provided.
We've already spoken about shaking but now we're talking about the dry shake.
Using Egg White in cocktails is nothing new but the idea of dry shaking seemed to die off for a while.
Egg Whites help emulsify and blend ingredients together they also greatly improve the texture of a drinks.
Dry shaking helps to wake up the proteins in the egg white and create a fluffy foam on top of the drink as seen in the photo of my Blueberry and Amaretto Sour.
Dry shaking is simple to do, Simply shake the drink without ice this can be done before or after using ice to shake.