7 Tips for Improving your Cocktail Making Skills – 2023 Guide
Working in the food and beverage industry comes in a wide variety of different types of jobs. Perhaps the most obvious few include cooking and bartending, since every restaurant, pub, café, or club needs to have someone to prepare food and snacks, and someone to bring the guests their drinks and treats.
While other jobs also do exist that are often overlooked, like food runners, bussers, and prep cooks regarding, one other job is perhaps the most interesting to do, and certainly the most entertaining to watch. This is of course cocktail making, also known as bartending. While not all bartenders make top-tier cocktails, many of them do since more doors open to them if they know how to mix drinks.
Now, making cocktails, like any other fine skill, is a very difficult thing to master. The sheer amount of things people tend to order makes it next to impossible to know everything at all times, as well as wherever you work. With that in mind, we decided to give you a hand and present you with the most useful tips for improving your cocktail making skills. Click here if you want to learn even more about this topic.
1. Do Research
As we mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of cocktails in existence, both easy to make and very hard to learn how to properly mix. Because of such amount of information and recipes, one simply has to get down to classic research and study in order to learn to make the most popular ones. Read a book on bartending, scour the internet, and take a trip to local bars and clubs to watch the pros do their thing. You can always ask them for advice and tips as you watch and learn how they do and when. Training your memory is key as you do not have time to check recipes all the time.
2. Have the Right Equipment
Of course, each bartender needs its own set of equipment, both at home and at work. Moreover, it should be the same kind of tools they are used to in order for them to make the drinks on time and with maximum efficiency. This is why the best bartenders have their own kit that they carry with them to each event. Bar mats, bar spoons, shakers, strainers, pourers, jiggers, muddlers, zesters, and all the other bar gadgets and cleaning equipment are a must and should be at the bartender’s side continuously.
3. Free Pouring
To become faster, more efficient, and more interesting to look at while working, as a bartender you have to master the free pouring. Measuring how much you put into each cocktail takes a lot of time, which is why you should have the right idea about how much liquid comes out as you free pour. Great bartenders never look at recipes because they have free pouring down to a science. Since they can make educated guesses and judge the number of drinks without double-checking, they mix drinks lightning-fast, satisfy more customers, and walk away with huge tips every night.
4. Always Garnish
Many bartenders think that garnishing drinks once they mix them is not that important. Things could not be further from the truth in real life. Customers like their drinks to look beautiful and tasty. They enjoy imagining what they taste like based on the amazing visual appeal, which is why decorating a mixed drink is so important. Celery, olives, cheese, shrimp, fruit bits, and inedible ornaments are all things you should regularly use depending on the kind of drink you are mixing.
In order to become better, you have to be ready to take your own spins on popular drinks and be ready to experiment. Do not be afraid to do so as this is how some of the most popular and tasty foods and drinks were made. There is no reason to think you can mess something up since this is done during your alone time, or during a slow day behind the bar. Increase or decrease the amount of a certain drink that goes into the mix. Garnish the drink differently or switch up alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks that go into the mix. You can also experiment on your movements while you are working and find a way to be more productive, more efficient, and faster.
Experimenting goes hand in hand with practicing since you will be honing your bartending skills in the process. While trying something new you will become more proficient in the things you already know. Once you identify what you could still work on, isolate that part of a drink-making process and work on that for a while, or at least until you are satisfied with your progress. If you do not feel like experimenting or if you are still in the stages where you have to become better at traditional recipes, then practicing the basics should be what you do. Practice to be faster, more efficient, or how to better orient yourself in the bar. Determine where you like to keep the drinks and the equipment you use the most, where the garnishes and glasses are, and where the ice comes from. When you know exactly what you want and need and where to get it from at all times, you will already be a better bartender than you used to be. You can also practice things mentioned above, like garnishing and free pouring.
7. Enjoy the Ride
Since bartending is also a kind of entertainment especially when the bar is full and dozens of people look at you as you are throwing bottles and mixers around, you must enjoy the moment if you are to be good at it.
Remember, if you love what you do it does not feel like work. Therefore, put a smile on your face and enjoy your hours behind the bar. If this is hard for you, make some changes until you are happy. If it seems you cannot be happy, maybe bartending is not for you after all and that is fine. Maybe you became burned out after too much work. Whatever the case, try to make things more enjoyable for yourself whenever you can in order to keep things fresh.