Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lesson 2: Basic Bar Tools

In this lesson, I am going to introduce you to some of the most common bar tools that you will be encountered with as you train to become a bartender. Some of the tools introduced in this lesson are frequently used while other tools are used only when making a special drink. The amount of tools that you want to get now will be absolutely up to you as most bar will supply them to you once you start working. Some of the tools that you may want to get are for the sheer personal pleasure of making a killer drink for yourself and your friends.

That being said, there are some tools that you’ll need to go out and purchase before you start your official bartending training here. Some of the tools are absolute necessities for a bartender, so I hope you consider getting them online or at your nearest Target.

The Necessities

So what tools do you absolutely need to get? Well, I have to recommend you to get a shaker and a jigger as an absolute must to become a bartender. These two are essential tools that you will need to get, and without it, I don’t think you can get your full training here. Be sure to get these two items since they will be your tools to become a professional bartender.

I’m now going to go over each bar items now, and explain to you what they are suppose to do. You may already be a bit familiar with some items, but I’m going to try and explain each of the bar tools very briefly. My goal is to make a great bartender after you read through all of my posts!

Shaker: A shaker is used to combine and mix all of the liquor and juices with ice to create a cocktail. You often see bartenders use a shaker for any kind of martini cocktail or a margarita. This is a tool that you will need to get yourself familiar with. The main purpose of the shaker is to mix the drink with ice, and act as a strainer once your mixing has been completed. It’s a pretty cool tool to have, and girls dig it if you look like you know how to use the shaker right.

Jigger: A jigger is used to measure portions of your liquor. Jiggers come in a lot of different sizes, and the most common are the 1/2oz + 1oz combo, or the 1oz + 2 oz combo. It’s a handy little device for both quality control and cost control. Most of the formal bars such as the ones inside a hotel will make you use a jigger for cost control purposes. This is a tool that you will also be using frequently, so be sure to get used to this tool as well.

Bar Mat: A bar mat is a handy tool to have so that you can catch all the spilled liquid on it. Bartending tends to involve a lot of liquids, and without a bar mat, there will be alcohol, juices, sodas, ice, and water everywhere. Bar mat will make your cocktail making a little less messy by catching all of the liquid that you spill one way or another. It's a nice tool to have, and at a professional bar, it is definitely a necessity. Having one for a home bar is also nice since you get that authentic feel to your bar.

Tools You May Already Have

There are some tools that you may already have, so it may be unnecessary for you to go out and purchase them. Some of the tools that are commonly found in your kitchen are: a blender, paring knife, cutting board, corkscrew, and some kitchen towels. If you already have these items, don’t worry too much about getting an upgraded version at this point. The one you have should work well enough. As you become a better bartender, you may want to get a brand new knife and a powerful blender to make some killer frozen daiquiris to impress your buddies with.

Blender - If you're learning at home, you may want to consider getting a powerful one in order to crush the ice. The usual ice that our freezer makes is a bit hard, and less powerful blenders have a hard time crushing it to get that smooth texture we like in our frozen margaritas.

Paring Knife - I personally like to get a pretty good quality paring knife since this does become an essential to cut your limes, oranges, and lemons with. A sharper knife is usually much safer than a dull knife.

Corkscrew - I would recommend trying out a few types to see what you like. If you're planning to work at a busy bar, speed is key, so something that's easy to use is recommended. If you're planning on working at a fancy restaurant, then elegance and style may play a bigger role than speed. Try out a few to see what you like to open wine bottles with.

Kitchen/Bar Towel - Kitchen towels or bar towels does become part of your fashion. Bartenders always have their hands wet, so you usually see us wearing a bar towel on our hips. Many bars will provide theirs, but it maybe nice to differentiate with your own bar towel. Subtle things like this will differentiate you from other bartenders.

Secondary Tools to Consider

There are other tools that you may want to consider getting as well. These tools are not absolutely necessary to get, but can be very convenient to have. These tools will usually save you some time, or help you to make a better drink.

Bar Spoons: Bars spoons are often used to stir a drink. The famous story we all know is the “shaken, not stirred” quote. Some people like their martini stirred, and they do so by using a bar spoon. Stirring a drink does help to keep it clear and pure from ice particles, where in contrast, shaking a drink will make it initially foggy as the cocktail mixes with air and pieces of ice. So if you want a clean, well made cocktail, a bar spoon is something you’ll need to get. I also used bar spoons to mash lemons, oranges, and limes for drinks like the old fashioned when a muddler is not readily available.

Ice Scoop: You’ll likely need an ice scoop once you start bartending at work or at a party. Ice scoops are an extremely convenient items to have when you have to go through a bag of ice to make your drink. You can use a shaker or a tin if you don’t have an ice scoop, but a properly sized ice scoop is usually the smoothest way of getting ice for you.

Mixing Cup (Glass): A glass mixing cup is used to prepare certain drinks. One of the most famous one is again the martini, where some patrons would like you to make them in a glass cup rather than a metal tin. They claim that the metal tin infuses a subtle flavor into the martini, and hence, they prefer the glass where it will stay pure. You do usually stir this martini with a metal bar spoon, so I’m not exactly sure how much of this theory is true. I figure the metal bar spoon will also infuse the metal into the drink. But that’s what the customer wants, so you’ll give it to them. Anyway, bartenders also use the glass mixing cup alongside a tin to shake the cocktail they are making. At times, they’ll directly serve the glass mixing cup that they just used to mix the drink for the customer. So a glass mixing cup is a pretty versatile tool to have.

Mixing Cup (Metal): The metal mixing cup, or often called the tin is similar to the just the bottom portion of the shaker. They are light weight are used to mix drinks in place of using the shaker. A lot of busy bars like to use the tin/glass mixing cup combination to make their drinks. The shaker does get a bit tedious at times because there are three parts to it, and you can easily misplace or lose a part at a busy bar. You may have seen it before, but to pour the drink from a tin, a bartender will use either a strainer, or they may use it in combination with the glass mixing cup to pour the drink out of the crack between the two cups. It’s a handy tool, and you should get used to using the tin to mix drinks with. Also on a side note, a tin is the best tool to have to do some flair bartending that I will discuss in the future.

Speed Pourers: Speed pourers are handy little devices that you put on some of your most popular bottles of liquor. The speed pourers help to provide you with a consistent flow of liquid per pour. You can estimate with a speed pourer that one second of a pour will equal an ounce of drink. You will definitely be encountered with speed pourers once you start working, and if you’re passionate about your training, you may want to get them for yourself. They do become pretty handy at a parties.

Strainer: A strainer is a device that you use to strain the drink that you mixed. In a lot of cocktails, you don’t want to serve the ice that you mixed the drink with. So you’ll use a strainer to avoid adding any ice into your customer’s drink. Strainers are one of those tools that you need to have once you start working. At home, you can improvise a bit. Also, as mentioned above, some bartenders use the tin/glass mixing cup combination in place of a strainer. This method works fine, but when you’re busy, you can slip in an ice cube by accident. So having a strainer will help you to avoid any mistakes. At home, if you have the shaker, it will have a strainer built in it, so you should be fine.

Beer Bottle Opener: Although most of the beers today are twist offs, there are still others where you will need a bottle opener for. You can get a speed bottle opener, or a gigantic one that draws attention. It’s all up to you. At work, they’ll usually provide you with a small metal bottle opener that will fit in your pocket. But since a customer will usually tip you a dollar for opening a beer bottle, it’s a nice gesture on your end to give them a little bit of show to make their buck be worthwhile.

Some Luxury Items

The remaining items are more luxury items, so you’ll probably don’t need it at this stage. But if you if you have enough passion about bartending, you may want to get these items later for the sheer joy of making quality drinks.

Here are some tools I love using, and hope that you would consider getting them someday too.

Lime Squeezer: This is a tool that I absolutely love to use. I use this to make my margaritas with, and I like to add a lot of lime juice into a lot of my cocktails. Having this item makes it very easy to add in fresh lime juice into my cocktails. Thanks to this device I sold more margaritas then my colleagues as my customers will always get seconds on their margaritas.

Muddler: Muddler is used to mash up limes, lemons, oranges, and mints for some drinks. One of the most famous drinks known to use a muddler is the Mojito. You need to mash up the lime, mint, and powdered sugar together to make a killer Mojito. This is a tool that doesn’t see very much action, but it makes a world of difference when you’re making a Mojito or an Old Fashioned. It also looks kind of cool and doesn’t cost much. So if you have an extra $10 you can spend, I recommend you get a muddler then.

Fancy Straws, Picks, and Sticks: Obviously, you don’t need fancy straws, picks, and sticks if you are making a drink for yourself. But if you are hosting a party or want to impress someone, having these small garnishes makes a whole lot of difference. You make a great impression, and people will think of you as an awesome bartender. And even real basic bar straws like the one you see at a regular restaurant will make a pretty nice impression if you are hosting a house party. So to impress, try to get these little garnishes, and people will love you for that extra mile.

So this concludes Lesson 2 on some of the basic bar tools. We do need to go over the fundamentals early on because you will be building upon these fundamentals for your bartending training. It’s going to be a nice little trip, so just be patient with me, and learn everything you can.

The next lesson will be about Mixes and Garnishes. So until next time, good luck studying, and cheers!

Lesson 1: Glassware

Lesson 3: Bar Mixes


Naomi Elbaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

can you please post questions at the end of the lessons to test our skills that we picked up on so we can train ourselves better learning on our own? or possibly quizzes? that would be much appreciated!!

p.s. clicking on lots of adds!!

Anonymous said...

impossible to see the images on lesson 1 a pity because it's interesting !

Statement-of-Purpose said...

Unable to see images­čś×


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