Close up shot of liquid being poured into a jigger

Mastering Pouring and Cutting Techniques

Unlock the secrets of perfect pouring and cutting techniques in bartending and delight your customers with consistent, high-quality drinks.

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Part of the allure of the 'performance' in cocktail-making is the skill and coordination of the bartender's maneuvers. Mastering the pouring technique and applying a swift elegance to cutting with a speed pourer is essential to a bartender's craft. 

Explore how to develop your pouring technique to improve service speed, reduce wastage, and ensure your customer gets a consistent quality serve every time.

Types of Pouring

Free Pouring 

A bartender pours liquid directly from the bottle, typically spirits or liqueurs, without a measuring tool. It's tempting to do, especially after watching Tom Cruise in 'Cocktail', but free pouring is not a favorable technique. It can lead to:  

Jiggered Pouring 

A bartender uses a jigger to measure pours. Some of the world's best bartenders are incredibly dextrous and introduce theatre to jiggered pours by utilizing long, stylish pours while maintaining accuracy. 

Essential Tools for Pouring 

Pour Spouts/Speed Pourers 

Pour spouts are used to control the pouring of drinks.  

  • Pourers should be stored safely and put on to your most used bottles at the beginning of service.  
  • The speed pourer is affixed to the mouth of the bottle to regulate the flow of liquid and ensure a consistent pour.  
  • It is an indispensable tool in busy bars when time is of the essence and accuracy needs to be maintained. 


Jiggers are used to pour accurate amounts of spirit.  

  • The maximum legal quantity of each measure varies worldwide, so be sure to check with your manager about your local limit. 
  • Rinse all your jiggers between serves to ensure liquids don't mix.  
  • Jiggers should be stored together on a drainage tray on the bar top. 

3 Steps to Mastering Your Pouring Technique

  1. Practice: Start with an empty bottle filled with water, a speed pourer, a jigger, and a glass or shaker. Practice smooth, consistent pours from the bottle to the jigger and from the jigger to the glass.  
  2. Consistent Bottle Hold: There are multiple ways to hold a bottle. Explore the various styles and do what feels most comfortable. Grip the bottle by its neck to give maximum directional control. Invert the bottle to between 45 and 90 degrees. This ensures the liquid flows smoothly. Make sure the speed pourer’s air vent is not blocked, as this will disrupt the flow. 
  3. Steady Stream: A speed pourer is designed to give a consistent flow. Trust in its design and maintain a steady pour without shaking or wavering.

Ending the Pour or ‘Cutting’  

Cutting refers to the moment the bartender stops the pour.  

  • It is a swift pull out of the pour, cutting off the liquid stream and ensuring no additional drops enter the glass.  
  • Sometimes accompanied by a "bounce" – a quick down/up motion to disrupt the liquid flow and make a cleaner cut.   
  • There are various styles of cutting – start by slowly reducing the bottle's angle to slow the pour's speed as your jigger fills for a clean, easy cut.  
  • As you become more comfortable pouring, more elaborate cuts tend to come naturally. 

Mastering the art of pouring and cutting techniques is more than just a skill; it's a performance that adds finesse to every drink you craft and ensures your customers consistently receive high-quality service.

Key Takeaways 

  • Smooth, dextrous pouring is part of the "performance" of bartending.  
  • Free pouring is the technique of estimating un-measured pours. This is usually inadvisable for a variety of reasons stemming from inaccuracy.  
  • Jiggered pouring is the technique of measuring pours with a jigger. With practice, these can be as fast and stylish as free pouring.  
  • Effective pouring and using tools like speed pourers are indispensable in busy bars and require technique and practice.   
  • Cutting is the technique of stopping the pour. It can range from a gradual stop to stylish and flamboyant movements. 

Master more bartending techniques and get access to free training and resources when you sign up as a Diageo Bar Academy member.

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