Bartending - Basic Techniques

Published: 07th January 2010
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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 the basic skills from shaking to pouring over a spoon. Most people can easily get by with these techniques in a professional situation. When tending bar at home - it's a definite!


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 while breaking down and combining the ingredients.

Normally, this is done with ice cubes added to the shaker about ¾ of the way to the top. Then pour in the ingredients, hold the shaker in both hands with one hand on top and one hand supporting the base.

Give the shaker a short, sharp, snappy shake. DO NOT rock your cocktail to sleep. When water has begun to condense on the surface of the shaker, the cocktail is 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 a drink is required shaken with crushed ice (i.e. Shirley Temple), it is to be served unstrained.


You can stir cocktails effectively with a metal or glass rod in a mixing glass. If you use ice, use them 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 often needed for recipes containing fruit or other ingredients that do not break down by shaking. Blending is a great way to combine these ingredients with others creating a smooth, ready to serve mixture.

Some recipes call for ice to be placed in the blender in which case you would use a suitable amount of crushed ice to produce a smooth, pleasant tasting drink.


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 such as cream liquor on top of another, use the rounded, back part of a spoon and rest it against the inside of a glass. Slowly pour the liquor down the spoon and into the glass. The ingredient should run down the inside of the glass and remains separated from the ingredient below it.


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 liquor 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 and 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.

For more information about bartending, please refer to my website Visit the Bartending for Beginners

Take Care,

Steve Gill

Bartending for Beginners


Steve Gill is the Managing Director of Capital Net Marketing.

Visit the Bartending for Beginners

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