Basic Bartending Mixing techniques
Creating cocktails can be straight forward or artistic; depending on the person, their tastes, and how far they want to take it. Often, the first lesson of bartending school teaches basic skills - from shaking, to pouring over a spoon. Most people can quite easily get by with these techniques, especially when tending home bars.
When a drink contains eggs, fruit juices or cream, it is necessary to shake the ingredients. Shaking is the method by which you use a cocktail shaker to mix ingredients together and chill them simultaneously. The object is to almost freeze the drink whilst breaking down and combining the ingredients. Normally this is done with ice cubes three-quarters of the way full. When you've poured in the ingredients, hold the shaker in both hands, with one hand on top and one supporting the base, and give a short, sharp, snappy shake. It's important not to rock your cocktail to sleep. When water has begun to condense on the surface of the shaker, the cocktail should be sufficiently chilled and ready to be strained.
Most cocktail shakers are sold with a build-in strainer or hawthorn strainer. When a drink calls for straining, ensure you've used ice cubes, as crushed ice tends to clog the strainer of a standard shaker. If indeed a drink is required shaken with crushed ice (ie. Shirley Temple), it is to be served unstrained.
You can stir cocktails effectively with a metal or glass rod in a mixing glass. If ice is to be used, use ice cubes to prevent dilution, and strain the contents into a glass when the surface of the mixing glass begins to collect condensation.
To extract the most flavor from certain fresh ingredients such as fruit or mint garnishes, you should crush the ingredient with the muddler on the back end of your bar spoon, or with a pestle.
An electric blender is needed for recipes containing fruit or other ingredients which do not break down by shaking. Blending is an appropriate way of combining these ingredients with others, creating a smooth ready to serve mixture. Some recipes will call for ice to be placed in the blender, in which case you would use a suitable amount of crushed ice.
When building a cocktail, the ingredients are poured into the glass in which the cocktail will be served. Usually, the ingredients are floated on top of each other, but occasionally, a swizzle stick is put in the glass, allowing the ingredients to be mixed.
To layer or float an ingredient (ie. cream, liqueurs) on top of another, use the rounded or back part of a spoon and rest it against the inside of a glass. Slowly pour down the spoon and into the glass. The ingredient should run down the inside of the glass and remain separated from the ingredient below it. Learning the approximate weight of certain liqueurs and such will allow you to complete this technique more successfully, as lighter ingredients can then be layered on top of heavier ones.
**** Always Use Extreme Caution**** Never Let a Guest Handle Drink While Flaming!!!!
Flaming is the method by which a cocktail or liquor is set alight, normally to enhance the flavor of a drink. It should only be attempted with caution, and for the above reason only, not to simply look cool.
Some liquors will ignite quite easily if their proof is high. Heating a small amount of the liquor in a spoon will cause the alcohol to collect at the top, which can then be easily lit. You can then pour this over the prepared ingredients. Don't add alcohol to ignited drinks, don't leave them unattended, light them where they pose no danger to anybody else, and ensure no objects can possibly come into contact with any flames from the drink. Always extinguish a flaming drink before consuming it.
Date: November 16th, 2008