The right tools make mixing drinks easier, but some tasks simply can’t be done without the right gizmo.
Boston shaker: two-piece set comprised of a mixing glass and a slightly larger metal container that acts as a cover for the mixing glass for shaking coc ktails. The mixing glass can be used alone for stirring drinks that aren’t shaken.
Barspoon: long-handled, shallow spoon with a twisted handle used for stirring drinks.
Hawthorne strainer: perforated metal top for the metal half of a boston shaker, held in place by a wire coil. Serves as a strainer.
Julep strainer: perforated, spoon-shaped strainer used in conjunction with a mixing glass.
Co-ck tail shaker: metal pitcher with a tight-fitting lid, under which sits a strainer. While styles vary widely, the popular retro-style pitcher has a handle as well as a spout that’s sealed with a twist-off cap.
Electric blender: absolutely necessary to make frozen drinks, puree fruit, and even crush ice for certain recipes.
Cutting board: either wood or plastic, it is used to cut fruit upon for garnishes.
Paring knife: small, sharp knife to prepare fruit for garnishes.
Muddler: looks like a wooden pestle, the flat end of which is used to crush and combine ingredients in a serving glass or mixing glass.
Grater: useful for zesting fruit or grating nutmeg.
Bottle opener: essential for opening bottles that aren’t twist-off.
Church key: usually metal, it is pointed at one end to punch holes in the tops of cans, while the other end is used to open bottles.
Corkscrew: there are a myriad of styles from which to choose: professionals use the “waiter’s corkscrew,” which looks like a pen- knife, the “screw-pull,” or the “rabbit corkscrew.” the “winged corkscrew,” found in most homes, is considered easiest to use but often destroys the cork.
Citrus reamer: essential for juicing fruit, it comes in two styles: either the strainer bowl with the pointed cone on top, or the wooden handle with the cone attached, which must be used with a strainer.
Jigger: helpful for precise measuring (though professionals just count out the ounces in seconds silently), it is usually two v-shaped metal cups conjoined at the narrow end, one end measuring 1 ounce, the other 11⁄2 ounces.
Ice bucket with scoop and tongs: a bar without ice is like a car without gas. Use the scoop—never the glass—to gather ice in a mixing glass or shaker and tongs to add single cubes to a prepared drink.
Miscellaneous accoutrements: sip-sticks or stirrers, straws, co-ck tail napkins, coasters, and co-cktail picks.
Clean, polished glasses show off good drinks to great advantage. The best glasses should be thin-lipped, transparent, and sound off in high registers when “pinged.” in practice, these five glasses could be used to make most of the mixed drinks and co-cktails found in this book:
- Co-cktail glass (also known as martini glass): typically 4 to 8 ounces, but lately much larger.
- Collins glass: tall and narrow, typically 8 to 12 ounces.
- Highball glass: shorter collins glass, typically 8 to 10 ounces.
- Hurricane glass: short-stem, hour-glass-shaped, typically 14 to 20 ounces.
- Old-fashioned glass: wide and squat, typically 6 to 8 ounces.
A complete inventory of glassware, however, would include the following:
- Shot glass
- Beer mug
- Beer/pilsner glass
- Irish coffee glass
- Pousse café glass
- Parfait glass
- Red wine glass
- White wine glass
- Sherry glass
- Pousse café glass
- Champagne flute
- Brandy snifter
- Cordial or pony glass
- Whiskey sour glass
TAKING STOCK – BAR PANTRY
Nobody ever said stocking a home bar is easy or inexpensive, which is probably why so few people bother to do it. However, if you’re above the fray, feeling inspired by this book, and make the reasonable rationalization about the money you’ll spend stocking your bar versus the money you’ll save on buying drinks at bars, here’s what you’ll need to do it right:
- Angostura bitters
- Peychaud’s bitters
- Orange bitters
- Lime juice
- Lemon juice
- Cranberry juice
- Pineapple juice
- Other juices and nectars
- Savory ingredients
- Tomato juice
- Clam juice
- Hot sauces
- Worcestershire sauce
Simple syrup (equal parts water and granulated sugar, heated over a flame, and then cooled and stored in refrigerator until needed)
- Superfine sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Coconut cream
- Various fruit syrups (orgeat, elderflour)
DAIRY / EGG / SODA
- Cream (heavy, half-and-half)
- Seltzer/club soda
- Quinine/tonic water
Various: cola, lemon/lime, etc.
- Lemon wedges
- Lime wedges
- Assorted fruit wheels
- Pineapple chunks
- Maraschino cherries
- Fresh herbs (mint, basil, etc.)
How to chill a glass
Always chill before you fill. There are two ways to make a cocktail glass cold:
Put the glasses in the refrigerator or freezer a couple of hours before using them.
Fill the glasses with ice and water, stir, and then discard when drink is ready.
How to frost a glass
There are two types of “frosted” glasses. For “frosted” drinks, glasses should be stored in a refrigerator or buried in shaved ice long enough to give each glass a white, frosted, ice-cold look and feel.
For a “sugar-frosted” glass, moisten the rim of a pre-chilled glass with a slice of lime or lemon and then dip the rim into powdered sugar.
For margaritas, rub the rim of the glass with a lime, invert the glass, and dip it into coarse salt.
How to muddle
Muddling is a simple mashing technique for grinding herbs, such as mint, smooth in the bottom of a glass. You can buy a wooden muddler in a bar-supply store. It crushes the herbs, much as the blunt handle of a wooden spoon might, without scarring your glassware.
To stir or not to stir
Pitchers of cocktails need at least 10 seconds of stirring to mix properly. Carbonated mixers in drinks do much of their own stirring just by naturally bubbling. Two stirs will complete the job.
When to shake
Shake any drink made with juices, sugar, or cream, or use an electric blender. Strain co-cktails from shaker or blender to a glass through a coil-rimmed strainer.
Pour drinks as soon as you make them or they will wilt. Leftovers should be discarded or they will be too diluted by the time you get to seconds.
When making a batch of drinks at once, set up the glasses in a row. Pour until each glass is half-full, and then backtrack until the shaker is empty. That way everyone gets the same amount, thoroughly mixed.
Creating a rainbow effect in a glass with different-colored cordials requires a special pouring technique. Simply pour each liqueur slowly over an inverted teaspoon (rounded side up) into a glass. Start with the heaviest liqueur first. (recipes will give proper order.) pour slowly. The rounded surface of the spoon will spread each liqueur over the one beneath without mixing them. You can accomplish the same trick using a glass rod. Pour slowly down the rod.
The secret of flaming
The secret of setting brandy (or other high-alcohol spirits) aflame is first to warm it and its glass until almost hot. You can warm a glass by holding it by its stem above the flame or electric coil on your stove until the glass feels warm. (avoid touching the glass to the flame or coil, which could char or crack it.)
Next, heat 2 to 4 ounces of brandy in a saucepan above the flame (or in a cooking pan). When the brandy is hot, ignite it with a match.
If it’s hot enough, it will flame instantly. Pour the flaming liquid care- fully into the other brandy you want flamed. If all the liquid is warm enough, it will ignite.
Warning: flames can shoot high suddenly. Look up and be sure there’s nothing en route that can ignite. That includes your hair. Have an open box of baking soda handy in case of accidents. Pour it over flames to extinguish them. Use pot holders to protect your hands from the hot glass, spoon, or pan.
Using fruit and fruit juices
Whenever possible, use only fresh fruit. Wash the outside peel before using. Fruit can be cut in wedges or in slices. If slices are used, they should be cut about 1⁄ -inch thick and slit toward the center to fix slice on rim of glass. Make sure garnishes are fresh and cold.
When mixing drinks containing fruit juices, always pour the liquor last. Squeeze and strain fruit juices just before using to ensure freshness and good taste. Avoid artificial, concentrated substitutes.
When recipes call for a twist of lemon peel, rub a narrow strip or peel around the rim of the glass to deposit the oil on it. Then twist the peel so that the oil (usually one small drop) will drop into the drink. Then drop in the peel. The lemon oil gives added character to the co-cktail, which many prefer.
Opening champagne or sparkling wine
When the bottle is well chilled, wrap it in a clean towel and undo the wire around the cork. Pointing the bottle away from people and priceless objects, hold the cork with one hand, grasp the bottle by the indentation on the bottom, and slowly turn the bottle (not the cork!) until the cork comes free with a pop! Pour slowly into the center of the glass.
Cut the seal neatly around the neck with a sharp knife just below the top. Peel off, exposing the cork. Wipe off the cork and bottle lip. Insert the corkscrew and turn until the corkscrew is completely inside the cork. With a steady pull, remove the cork. If the cork crumbles or breaks, pour the wine through a tea strainer into another container for serving. The host or hostess should taste the wine to check its quality before offering it to guests.