How do we define bartending? Is it just a profession which revolves around a person who prepares and serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks or does it have something more to it? Is there a special degree of education that must be attained to master this field or can anyone be a bartender? Is it just the knowledge of recipes and flavours that makes a bartender successful or does it take something beyond knowledge such as personality and grooming?
Well, these are just a few questions, among the host of questions, which can be raised in relation to this profession. Anyhow, it can be said for sure that there is a lot to this profession that has to be learnt in order to understand its depths and nuances; and the prime position in the list of these aspects is possessed by the prominent bartending techniques. These techniques are quintessential to this profession and determine the success of a bartender. Therefore, it is immensely important that an aspiring bartender masters them before taking his position behind the bar counter.
Prominent Bartending Techniques
Adding a Twist
Twists can’t be added to a drink straightaway. These should be rubbed on the rim of the glass and then dropped in the drink to add the essence of the twist to it. The rubbing would let you have a flavour of the twist before you actually take a sip of the drink from the glass.
Layering and Floating
These are two distinct ways of serving drinks and the difference among them is important to be known. Layering, on one hand is the process of adding different types of liquors or liqueurs one over the other without stirring or mixing them; however, floating is to add a layer of liquor on top of a drink. Both these processes are undertaken very carefully and at a slow pace, so that the various types of drinks don’t blend with each other. Many a time, a bar spoon or even a cherry is used to undertake this task.
Most of the time, blending of the drinks is done using a commercial blender. However, if you are still to purchase one, you could use a few tips. For instance, use crushed ice instead of ice cubes while blending and blend ingredients in a separate blending cup before pouring them into the serving glass. At the same time, you need to be careful about the blender speeds also. You must blend the ingredients at a lower speed first and then move on to a higher speed level.
You also need to be careful about the texture of the blended drinks. Therefore, use a chilled glass to retain the texture and consistency of your drink for a longer time. As for the way to check on the consistency of your drink, you can know that your drink is too thin if you can see a hole in the blender while blending it and you can make up for this by adding some more ice to it. A thick drink would not move while it is being blended, and you should add some more juice to it to set right its consistency. A perfectly blended and rightly textured drink would show a small hole and would move while being blended.
Frosting and Chilling of Glasses
It is a well-known fact that chilling the glasses before serving the drink helps in maintaining the temperature of the drink. However, there are two ways, in which the temperature of the glassware can be lowered; by chilling or by frosting them. While chilling is done by keeping the glassware in a refrigerator for about 20 minutes, frosting can be done by dipping the glassware in water and then keeping it in the freezer for one hour.
This is an important technique, not only because it helps in adding a distinct flavour to the drinks, but because of the fact that it is dangerous and thus, quite risky. Therefore, if you are not confident about it, then it is better that you avoid using it; and even when you use it, keep a wet towel and baking soda within easy reach.
In order to work out this technique, you should first heat the alcohol in a saucepan till the time it starts showing bubbles around the edge. At this point of time, you can ignite the liquor using a long matchstick after which it can be poured into the drink. You can also try heating the liquor in a microwave for 12 seconds for this task and in case you would like to flame brandy, you should heat the brandy snifter, then pour warm brandy into it and ignite it.
This process is undertaken by using a cocktail muddler and helps in mashing and jumbling materials such as fruits for preparing drinks. The muddler is normally a wooden rod that is used to crush and twist ingredients in the serving glass itself so that their basic flavours can be retained in the drink that is being prepared.
Shaking, Stirring and Straining
These three are again important parts of drink mixing as one cannot imagine a drink that has not been shaken, stirred or strained. Shaking is done either by using a Boston shaker and mixing glass or by using a standard martini shaker. This technique is used for drinks in which fine blending of the ingredients with ice is required. On the other hand, stirring is undertaken by using a stirrer, bar spoon or a straw.
Most of the time, the bartenders use this technique for carbonated drinks so that the sparkle is maintained or in case of delicate flavours which might be ruined by harsh blended or shaking. Finally, straining is the technique that is undertaken for drinks, which need to be served with a smooth texture. This can be done by using a conventional strainer, or by using a standard shaker, which has a strainer in it by default.
Coating the Glass Rim
This too is a crucial technique as it is not just a way to serve the drinks, but can also be a way to add some more taste to them. Rims of glasses can be coated with kosher salt by placing the latter in a plate and dipping a glass, whose rim has been moistened with lime juice already, into it.
Sugar coating of the glass rim can be done by using the same technique. You could also try orange wedge in case you are making a lemon drop. Though this technique is simple, it is important that you make sure that no salt or sugar goes inside the glass, as it could affect the taste of your drink.