To celebrate, I'm reviving the topic of Bartending Startup. Just to catch you up at this point you've stocked your home bar, you've mixed up your simple syrup, you have the right glassware, and now you need some tools. So to kick off the EMPORIUM I'm going write about bar tools.
Presentation is one-third of the experience in delivering a cocktail that will wow your guest. All the bar tools we'll talk about here will add to that presentation. Bar tools are unique. They aren't found in your everyday kitchen, although they should be in my opinion, but they are necessary if you want to make the proper stunning cocktail.
Fresh juice is a necessary ingredient if you want a properly made cocktails. I provided a selection of hand press and automated juicers in the EMPORIUM. In both types you should use fresh, room temperature fruit. The smaller hand presses can be used to juice the fruit straight into the cocktail. The bigger automated juicers would be used to juice a lot at the same time and store it in a container.
Once done shaking or stirring your cocktail you need something to hold back the extra ice or other materials you don't want in your libation. The odd looking spring allows the strainer to snugly fit into a variety of glass sizes. The Julep strainer was specifically designed for holding both the ice and mint leaves back in a Mint Julep. However this is a perfectly good strainer for everyday use as well. The third type is a more fine strainer which is typically used in conjunction with one of the other types of strainers in order to double strain. This might be needed if you've muddled a fruit and don't want the pith in the finished product. The fine strainer is also useful for coating the cocktail with powdered sugar.
A key tool in making cocktails is the cocktail shaker. Its simply a metal tin with an accompanying pint glass. When shopping for a shaker you will most likely come across a version of the shaker with a built in strainer. The built in strainer while it sounds convenient is actually a real pain. Both the tin and the strainer are made of metal so when they become cold they contract and become extremely hard to take apart. Also the strainer tends to get clogged. You are much better off with a shaker known as the boston shaker, pictured here and a strainer as described above. The processing of use is that you measure out the ingredients in the pint glass. Put ice in the metal tin. Pour the pint glass into metal tin seal it with a light tap, and shake away. Shake about ten seconds until the tin is cold. Give the area between tin and glass a good tap and remove the glass.
A key measuring device in cocktail creation. If you want accurate pours, you need a jigger. This may be confusing but a jigger is typically a two sided conical shaped measuring device where the larger side is called the jigger and the smaller side is called the pony. While I have seen the jigger other sizes I would recommend one that is 1.5 oz and a pony of 1 oz.
I have a full length post about Measuring the Pour specifically, you should check it out. For a home bar speed pourers may be overkill, but they are nice to have if you know how to use them.
In short a speed pourer allows you to measure and pour ingredients at the same time, thus saving time. You are able to measure with a speed pourer because when used the liquid comes out at a constant rate. Using an internal count and practice you can be pretty darn accurate. If you choose to use speed pourers at home you might think about getting the kind with a cap so that you can keep the bottles unexposed over time.
Knowing what to make and how to make it is obviously the first step in mixology. Good cocktail books, in conjunction with this website of course, will give you the ideas and mixes that make you an envy among your friends and family. I like the cocktail books that give you a mix between recipes and stories. Knowing where a cocktail originated and the story behind it allows you to recant that tell for your guest, thus making for a more memorable experience.
Bar spoons are used for stirring cocktails. The long shaft allows one to stir a pint glass quite easily. One could just use a long teaspoon for this purpose as well.
The back of a bar spoon is also used for layering cocktails. You would put the tip of the spoon in the previous layer and slowly pour the next liquor on the back of the spoon. There is also a specialty spoon used for absinthe drinking.
Remember stir when the cocktail contains all liquor, shake when there are juices or the like.
Muddle, muddle, toil and trouble. Muddling can be an arduous task. Having the right muddler can make a big difference. Muddling is used to extract oils and juices from ingredients.
Mashing mint leaves for example extracts oils and the fragrance that is a key ingredient in Mint Juleps and Mojitos. Be sure to use the correct end.
Pealing and cutting garnishes put the finishing touches a cocktail. Having the right knife for the job can make a big difference. Cutting good wedges, spirals, and wheels, can be the difference between an okay and excellent cocktail.
One would also be interested in a good cutting board.
These things are great even in a home bar. I make my drinks on top of the mat and any spills or mishaps hit the mat. At the end of the night just throw it in your dishwasher. These are also good for air drying glassware. You clean is soapy water, rinse with fresh water and turn upside down on the mat.
Sticks & Picks
Stirring sticks are a nice touch when serving mixed drinks, specifically lowballs. A lowball typically has a one of the major liquors and a mixer such as cola, tonic, soda, juice, etc...
Picks are useful when a cocktail calls for a small fruit or vegetable garnish such as olives or cocktail onions.
Laying out a napkin to a guest is a great opening gesture in welcoming them to your bar and asking them what they'd like. Cocktail napkins at home is also a nice touch to give to your guest as you are serving them. Let's face it cocktails in glassware typically have condensation that forms. A small napkin is perfect for keeping wet glass rings from messing up your furniture.
I have a full length post about glassware specifically you should check out. The glass you use can elevate you bar creation to the next level. Although it sounds silly but, using the proper glassware can actually effect the taste in some cases.
The glass pictured here is NOT called a martini glass but rather is called a cocktail glass. This is a very common mistake as the Martini cocktail, one could argue, made the cocktail glass popular.
So now you know about tools used in a bar, home or otherwise. There are a few other categories of tools I didn't mention here so please check out the EMPORIUM and support the site by buying your tools through it.