The road to becoming a bartender goes beyond stacking your bar with essential spirits, seasonings, and liqueurs. It requires you to understand the basic and essential bartending techniques. After mastering these, you can begin to mix any cocktail you want like a pro.
Because practice makes perfect, we’ve curated a bartending training guide to walk you through the entire process—no expensive bartending course required!
Check them out.
Essential Bartending Techniques
- Mise En Place, aka Get your $#!* together!
The first thing you need to know about bartending has nothing to do with drink mixing itself. Instead, it’s about organization, getting everything in place. Mise en place is a term used in bars and restaurants to reference the setup or layout of tools and ingredients.
By establishing a consistent, organized mis en place for you bar, you start off on the best possible foot. Plus, it saves you time (no more scrambling looking for that muddler).
Our tips for ultimate bartending organization:
- Get your recipe and prepare a plan for making it.
- Grab all the ingredients, utensils, bar items needed.
- Wash your ingredients (fruits, mint leaves, etc.) and place them in appropriate bowls.
- Set your ingredients around your counter for easy accessibility.
- How to Muddle
You need to extract flavors from a host of fruits, herbs, and mint garnishes. What do you do? You muddle them. When using a long muddler, use the following techniques for the best—and most flavorful–results:
- Gently mash down the ingredients to extract their flavors.
- Push down and twist the muddler over the herbs.
Cocktail shakers are the true mark of a bartender. Knowing how to properly shake makes you an even truer bartender. Luckily, it’s pretty simple.
How do you know when to use a shaker? When a drink consists of fruit juices, cream, syrups, and other mixers, then you shake them.
Shaking is the process of using a cocktail shaker to incorporate several ingredients together. The idea is to break down the mix and chill it. To pull this off:
- Combine all your ingredients into the cocktail shaker with ice.
- Seal it fully and place one hand on top of the shaker and the other at the bottom.
- Give it a good snappy shake for 10 – 15 seconds. As soon as you notice that water has begun to condense at the surface, your mix is ready to be strained.
- Utilize Dry Shaking
If you’re making a drink consisting of eggs or cream, dry shaking is the way to go. To dry shake like the pros, check out the following tips:
- Add all your ingredients into a cocktail shaker without ice.
- Shake for 20 seconds and add ice.
- Seal it again and shake for an additional 15 seconds.
Err…it’s not what you think. Spanking (or smacking) in bartending is simply the process of releasing the oil in a mint or basil leaf, making for a garnish that is both good-looking and aromatic. To properly spank an herb leaf:
- Place the herb on your palm.
- Slap it against your other palm. Voila!
- How to Salt a Rim
Rimming is the process of salting a glass. This makes for an improved look, taste, and an exciting drinking experience. To properly rim a glass:
- Run a wedge of citrus around the edge of the glass.
- Dip the glass into Demitri’s Original Rimshot. (Okay, you can use other rimmers, too. But why would you want to?)
- Stirring (The Right Way)
We’ve gone over shaking. But what about stirring? Stirring is another technique used by bartenders to mix drinks. Stirring is used when a drink includes distilled spirits, or must be constructed in the same glass it is served in.
Stirring versus shaking a drink will result in completely different textures and mouthfeels. Stirring doesn’t break off any ice shards, making for a more textured experience.
To properly stir:
- Use a long bar spoon, holding it at the top with your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers.
- Keep your stirring slow and steady—no need to beat the drink to death.
- Try different techniques, like twirling the spoon or rotating it around the glass.
- Creating Floating Cocktails
While some people prefer their drinks straight, others love the taste (and aesthetic) of layered cocktails. Floating is a process that requires mixing a cocktail with a small amount of spirit layered at the top of the drink.
To pull it off:
- Angle a bar spoon into the glass.
- Slowly pour the denser liquid through the twisted stem of the spoon into the glass.
- Now, pour the lighter liquid and watch it float!
- How to Frost a Glass
Frosting a glass is basically the process of chilling your glass to keep your cocktail cool. Lucky for you, this doesn’t require any super-technical skills to pull off.
You can chill your glass by either:
- Storing it in the freezer or fridge for 30 minutes before mixing your drink.
- Filling the glass with water and ice, stirring quickly to form a frost. Then, dump out the ice water prior to mixing.
- Zests and Garnishes
Mastering garnishes—aka the finishing touch of drinks–is a must-have skill for any aspiring bartender. Zests and garnishes are typically placed on top, skewered within, or on the side of the drink. Common examples include celery, whipped cream, bacon, beef jerky and really anything your crazy mind can think up.
Experiment with fun garnishes and flavors to compliment your drink of choice. For example, brunch-time Bloody Mary’s could pair great with a breakfast sausage skewered in.
Treat your guest to the best cocktail with seasonings from Demitri’s. Explore our shop today!