Lots of people have bar tips, and I am one of them. But instead of giving you a wallet breaking list of all the stuff you need to start a bar, I would rather pass on a few tidbits I have learned tending my own. One is that most of the stuff they say you need for the average basement bar, you are not going to touch in your downstairs Tiki hut. As I will say again later, buy stuff as you need it.
Jiggers, Pourers and measuring.
Accurate measuring is very important in mixing a proper cocktail.
A good jigger and set of measuring spoons, as well as a pint size
measuring cup marked in 1/4 oz increments are all indispensable tools
behind the bar. Always Measure. You can easily ruin a Martini or Negroni
with too much or too little vermouth. You can also get graduated pourers,
such as the "Mr. Bartender" that only deliver a certain amount, usually one ounce.
Because Hi Balls often include some sort of bubbly, excessive mixing and stirring should be avoided. A good way to get a good mix is to pour in about half the soda, add your booze, and top up with the remaining soda. It looks slick if you do this in a non-stop move, adding the shot without stopping the flow of mixer.
Always use fresh garnish, and have as much of it prepared as possible before you begin mixing. All of your limes, lemons, oranges, etc should be wedged or sliced as applicable, and stored in separate containers, or in a divided bowl, no more than a few hours before your party. For this reason it is a good idea to know what you will be mixing.
Booze and The Menu
How many times have you done the "what will you have" dance. You know, like this:
You: "What will you have?"
Them: "I dunno, what have you got?"
You: "What do you like?"
Them: "I dunno, what would be good?"
You: "What are you in the mood for?"
Them: "Oh I know, can you make a screaming pink flying cow?"
You: "What's in it?"
Them: "Uh, rum, uh, maybe vodka, uh...pink stuff"
Them: "Oh! I know, what about a spinning purple pint of joy?"
You: "What's in it?"
Them: "They make them at that restaurant. Uh, tequila I think, and maybe raspberry wine..."
You: "Uh, I don't think I have any Raspberry wine..."
I used to try and have anything and everything to make anything and everything, but contrary to what most people think, an opened bottle does have a shelf life, and I have poured out more expensive and unusual booze than I care to list.An unopened bottle will keep almost indefinitely, but once opened, most booze should used within a year. At the 821, we have our regulars, I pretty much know what they drink, and keep that on hand. But I also have a menu of "specialty" drinks and keep the ingredients for those on hand. It gives me a sort of "check list" for pre-party shopping, and (mostly) eliminates the above conversation. If you don't want to go through the trouble of printing menus, you can get a chalkboard and list your drinks there. In any case, having a set of drinks you know you can produce will make your cocktail making that much smoother. If want to make drinks right, you need the right stuff.
And speaking of the right stuff, you should always try to have the proper glass for the drink. Most good bar guides will tell you what glass to use. But don't go out and buy a case of Pousse-Cafe glasses unless you plan on making them regularly. When I set up my bar, I wanted a BAR!, So I bought a ton of glassware. I have a glass for pretty much any drink...IN STORAGE! I have boxes filled with footed Irish coffee mugs, cordials, pilsners, balloons, flutes, saucers... you name it. but ninety percent of what I mix goes in one of about five types of glass. You can do pretty well with just the following glasses:
Cocktail (sometimes called "Martini")
And of course,
Again, just like liquors, buy what you need as you need it, and save your storage for cases of rum.
So I know what you are thinking, where's the good stuff man? Where's the secrets?
Hmmm.... Can I trust you? Can you keep a secret? well ok. Then click here