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Bar Tools

Tools of the Trade

By Alan Dikty

To trick out the ideal bar, you need a few tools of the trade.

Cocktail Shaker

This is the most frequently used tool, because it enables you to perfectly mix the ingredients, and in the same time to chill them. You can pour dense ingredients (which cannot be directly mixed in a glass) in it, such as ice cream, marmalade, heavy cream, egg, or powdered sugar in order to obtain a frothy foam "bloom," which stays on the glass’ surface, making the cocktail more unctuous. Half-fill the shaker with ice cubes, then add the ingredients, reserving the strong spirits for the end. This minimizes dilution from the melting ice. Quickly shake for about 10 seconds before pouring the cocktail in an appropriate glass. The shaker may have two (a "Boston" shaker) or three pieces (the cap, which you can use as a measure; the strainer and the mug). It can be made of metal or glass (avoid plastic, which does not chill well), and need not be expensive.

Cocktail Blender

The cocktail blender enables you to prepare a cocktail based on fruit chunks, dairy products and whole ice cubes. Cut the fruits in chunks and put them in the blender. Add the other ingredients, push the button, and blend. A true cocktail or bar blender is preferred over an ordinary kitchen blender. It has a bigger motor, stronger blades, and is more heavy-duty.

The Graduated Measuring Cup

This measuring cup, similar to a kitchen measuring cup, enables you to stir (from up to down) the ingredients with a few ice cubes with a long spoon. Some classic cocktails have two or more versions: one that uses the shaker, the other with the graduated measuring cup.

Cocktail, Wine and Beer Glass Selection

If you’re shopping with a super double platinum Visa card, Waterford leaded crystal glassware is always in good taste. On the other hand, if you have Booker Noe tastes but an Old Crow budget, your local discount store is selling surprisingly high-quality Eastern European knock-offs at very reasonable prices.

  • Most cocktails are served in a standard cocktail glass, notably those with white spirits (Gin, Vodka, and Tequila)
  • For Whisky, use an Old Fashioned, broad and upright.
  • The Martini glass has become very trendy as of late.
  • Cocktails finished with soda are served in Highball glasses, not very broad but high.
  • Brandies (Cognac, Armagnac, eaux de vie) require a brandy snifter or a small tulip-shaped glass so that the bouquet can form.
  • Punches are simple, mugs are adequate.
  • Champagne cocktails are served in a Champagne glass flute.
  • Red and most white wines are best served in a large, stemmed tulip-shaped wine glass.
  • Ales are traditionally served in a slope-sided pint glass.
  • Lager beers can be presented in either a tall, slope-sided pilsner glass or a handled stein.