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Author Topic: The Art of the Cocktail: A Bartending Guide  (Read 2534 times)

Offline Myroria

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The Art of the Cocktail: A Bartending Guide
« on: February 15, 2015, 03:34:31 PM »
Let's be honest: beer is terrible and wine is even worse. That leaves the options for booze as Mike's Hard Lemonade, Wild Irish Rose, that bottle of Angry Orchard your friend gave you one time that's still sitting in your fridge, and hard liquor. Hard liquor, dollar for dollar, is going to get you the drunkest unless you're a fan of Thunderbird wine, so that's obviously what any true alcoholic would choose.

You could drink it on the rocks, I suppose, but let's be honest - you don't have a bottle of Macallan 12 sitting on your bar. You have half a fifth of Evan Williams bourbon, a jug of Orloff vodka, and a few precious drops of Crown Royal from your birthday six months ago. So what do you do? You make a cocktail! And let's say you decided that you're really not relishing the idea of mixing your Evan Williams with some tap water and Brisk lemonade and calling it a "whisky sour". You want to make a proper mixed drink. So let's gather around the bar, put on some music, and jump in, shall we?


Bar Equipment

Let's begin by looking at your bar - the part that doesn't have alcohol on it. I'm going to assume you have a proper bar - whether it be an actual bar, like some kind of bourgeois asshole, a side-table next to your couch, a bar cart salvaged from plane crash wreckage, a minibar stolen from a Holiday Inn, or even a milk crate next to the cardboard box you live in. My point is, if you can, have a place to display your liquor. It's a nice piece of furniture and it will give you more room in your freezer for all the TV dinners you'll be buying because you spent the rest of your paycheck on booze.

But unless you like drinking screwdrivers and rum and coke for the rest of your life, you'll need something more than just alcohol and mixers. There are several essential pieces to any bar that you should have to begin making cocktails properly:

Cocktail shaker


Everyone has that friend who has a cocktail shaker. It sits on his bar next to his Grand Marnier that never has any less fluid in it, and he puts ice it and shakes it and says "Shaken, not stirred" like some kind of asshole.

But to make a proper mixed drink, you're going to need a shaker. Many mixed drink recipes call for shaking the ingredients with ice - this helps chill the drink instantly. If a drink contains cream, juice, or eggs/egg white, shaking it is usually essential to help break down the ingredients and smoothly blend them together; in addition the chill takes some of the edge off the alcohol, making it easier to drink. You should never wince when taking a sip of a proper mixed drink; shaking the ingredients beforehand is a great way to help your guests keep guzzling down that liquor so that you can steal their wallets when they've all passed out.

Strainer



I put this below the shaker because they're related. Most cocktail shakers you'll find are like the picture I showed in the last section, and have a built-in strainer. The purpose is to filter out the ice chunks so the drink is more smooth in texture. Occasionally, though, you'll find a Boston shaker. Essentially two cups that fit inside each other, it serves the same purpose as all other cocktail shakers, but doesn't have a strainer. It's named, of course, for the city of Boston, where people are too busy complaining about the snow to get a proper cocktail shaker and would rather deal with all this other useless crap.

Anyway, if you use a Boston shaker, you'll need a strainer like the one shown above to strain the ice out. This will really impress your friends from Massachusetts, who often have no idea that frozen water can, in fact, be put somewhere else rather than be in their life constantly.

The spring on the device fits around the rim of either part of the shaker, and work with the holes poked in it to filter out all that silly ice.

Stirrers


Let's say your one other friend with a cocktail shaker comes over to your house for a party and orders a martini shaken, not stirred. Knowing, as I will go over in the future, that shaking a martini will bruise the gin and make a bland drink, you stir it instead secretly because you know he won't notice.

This is pretty self-explanatory. Some drinks need to be stirred instead of shaken - martinis, screwdrivers, rum-and-cokes. You don't really need a fancy stirrer - you could use a long spoon, or a popsicle stick, or 13 toothpicks scotch-taped together. I just included this because you'll probably see them for sale at the liquor store with the other bar supplies.

Jigger


A jigger is a device to help measure out mixers and alcohol. Each end holds a different amount of liquid - usually a single shot and some fraction of a single shot - one-half shot, two-thirds shot, etc. Rarely you will see jiggers that measure single and double shots. Personally, I don't own a jigger. I own a small kitchen measuring cup that measures up to 100 milliliters/3.5 ounces. A typical shot is 44 milliliters, or one and one-half fluid ounces, so this will do just fine.

Muddler


To cap off today's lesson, I'll go over a muddler, the last of the "bare minimum bar equipment". A muddler is a device made to help crush things like mint for mojitos or mint juleps, or sugar for an Old Fashioned. A muddler is basically a pestle - release the herb or sugar to release its flavor, then add other ingredients on top of it. Simple, brilliant, and easy-to-use.

There are other pieces of bar equipment that are either too obscure or too self-explanatory to go over here. Ice buckets, tongs, bottle openers, etc. Stay tuned for my next lesson, on essential mixers and alcohol! So long, alcies!

"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Musitant

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Re: The Art of the Cocktail: A Bartending Guide
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2015, 03:56:13 AM »
Damn, not a big fan of beer, huh?  ;D

Most of my mixed drinks just are comprised of Burnett's and orange juice, so I'm looking forward to your next article!

Offline Allama

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Re: The Art of the Cocktail: A Bartending Guide
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2015, 05:23:41 PM »
Inspiring! Thanks to your lecture, I've picked up a shaker and a jigger with which to mix and measure some cocktails at a karaoke party this weekend. :D

Keep 'em coming! Despite being a region of pseudo-alcoholics I expect most of us don't know what we're doing behind a bar.

Offline Delfos

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Re: The Art of the Cocktail: A Bartending Guide
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2015, 05:47:46 PM »
Inspiring! Thanks to your lecture, I've picked up a shaker and a jigger with which to mix and measure some cocktails at a karaoke party this weekend. :D

Keep 'em coming! Despite being a region of pseudo-alcoholics I expect most of us don't know what we're doing behind a bar.

emptying it.

Offline Lindisfarne

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Re: The Art of the Cocktail: A Bartending Guide
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2015, 06:24:44 AM »
Great Lecture! Keep 'em coming! :P
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