Hand using spoon to add spices to cocktail

The Bar Spoon

The barspoon is a versatile tool that has come to represent the craft and skill of bartending. Learn more about the range of uses and styles to suit personal of this essential bar tool.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Bar Spoons

Tucked discreetly among the gleaming equipment of almost any cocktail bar, the unassuming bar spoon has always represented subtlety, precision, and understated technique, carrying out its task with sophisticated elegance and embodying both form and function. Join us as we navigate the history, evolution, and intricacies of this essential bartending tool.

Spoons, in general, have been integral to human culinary experiences across centuries and cultures. However, the dedicated bar spoon, with its elongated handle and twisted stem, made its grand entrance (replacing one function of the multi-purpose Toddy Stick) during the golden age of cocktails in the 19th century. ​(Wondrich, 2007)​

As the art of mixology took shape, so did the need for specialized tools to perfect each drink and various versions evolved with inspiration from other specialised spoons. The fork-ended spoon may have evolved from a tool called a “sucket spoon” – used to eat an English dessert made of fruit and syrup while the muddler-ended spoon probably evolved from French apothecary spoons where they were used to measure and crush pharmaceutical ingredients. Amidst the rise of the cocktail, the bar spoon emerged not just as a stirring instrument, but as an emblem of the bartender's craft.

Styles of Bar Spoon

Like other tools of the trade, the bar spoon has witnessed various adaptations, each reflecting both aesthetic choices and functional needs. 

Classic “Red Knob” Barspoon

Generally made of stainless steel, this type is recognized by its iconic red, plastic cap. Usually a cheaper made option than its counterparts, the ‘Red-Knob’ Barspoon is nonetheless a ubiquitous feature of many bars around the world.

Japanese Barspoons – Teardrop & Trident

Coming to Western popularity in the early 2000’s with a wave of other high-quality Japanese bar equipment and a new-found focus on precision technique, Japanese Barspoons have come to represent quality, precision and professionalism.  

Usually of high quality and available in a range of lengths and weights to suit personal preference, they are commonly found in two styles – the “teardrop” and “the trident”.

Featuring a weighted end, the teardrop bar spoon balances perfectly in the hand, ensuring precision in each swirl while the trident provides a useful fork which can be used to spear garnishes. 

Japanese Teardrop

Featuring a weighted end, the teardrop bar spoon balances perfectly in the hand.

Disk Spoon

This variant features a small disk at the base, perfect for layering ingredients or gently muddling fruits and herbs. 

Mastery in Motion

The bar spoon may appear straightforward, but its efficacy lies in the technique. Here are some quintessential ways to use your barspoon:

  1. Use your barspoon to stir drinks. This can either be a quick stir of a long drink or built cocktail to mix ingredients and ensure consistency or the more elaborate Stirring method of preparing cocktails. You can learn more about this technique in our article on Stirring.
  2. Layering: Using the back of the spoon, ingredients can be delicately layered to create visually stunning cocktails. You can learn more about this technique in our article on Layering.
  3. Measure: While the primary function isn’t measurement, some recipes call for a bar spoon measure and it is useful to know that the bowl of the typical bar spoon holds approximately 5 ml of liquid. Make sure you measure the volume of your spoon as a reference because there can be considerable variation.
  4. Care & Longevity: The bar spoon, particularly those of fine metals, requires gentle care. Hand washing is recommended, and drying immediately prevents water spots and maintains the spoon's lustre.

Key Takeaways

  • The bar spoon is an understated and versatile tool that has come to represent precise technique, accuracy and skill amongst professional bartenders.
  • Make the most of your bar spoon and utilise for stirring, layering and measuring.

Receive regular industry news, recipes and inspiration direct to your inbox for free when you sign up to Diageo Bar Academy.