Bar techniques you need to know
From basic bar techniques to higher skilled foams and fat washing, leading Irish bartender Andrew Dickey runs through some techniques that will create depth and flavour and impress your customers!
Every single bar mentor will tell you differently, ‘stir clockwise for 30 seconds, shake for 22 seconds, that Ramos gin fizz isn’t ready until you are crying with exhaustion!’ So first things first, let’s look at some basics that will help with any serve you are creating.
My top 3 tips when making any serve:
- It is important that your shaking technique is vigorous and between 8-12 seconds long, but also comfortable!
- For stirred drinks, you should be tasting the drink every 20 seconds to tell if the drink is diluted appropriately.
- For best results, use large block ice for shaking and 3-4 ice machine cubes. This gives drinks a beautiful texture and the few ice cubes help to give the correct dilution.
Heightening Your Skills
So, now we have gone through some of the basics, let’s look at three higher skilled techniques.
Foams and airs
Why: This is a great technique for adding flavours and textural differences in drinks, other than classic sour styles, that include egg whites. Foams are easily made and they can be used for any style of drink.
How to do it:
- For airs which are light and fluffy, the best way to achieve this is by using Lecithin. Lecithin is a fatty substance found in egg whites and come in powdered form. Follow these steps:
- Simply add Lecithin to the water and other flavours you want to incorporate e.g. lime juice etc.
- Using a hand blender, blend these ingreidents together vigorously until a light air forms.
- Scoop out the foam with a julep strainer and place on top of your cocktail of choice.
Why: Another craze that came back to the cocktail scene last year was homemade sodas. This again is a great way to add flavour and fizz to your drinks and give a classic serve a twist.
How to do it:
Homemade sodas are easy to create and can add a beautiful effervescence to long drinks or spritzers. All you need is a soda siphon and Co2 charges, which can easily be picked up online or at local home appliance stores. At the moment there are great local tea and coffee merchants that have great tasting fruit teas and the flavours match perfectly with some base spirits (e.g. TANQUERAY NO. TEN and a lemongrass and ginger soda that also contains hibiscus, pomegranate and juniper). Simply follow these steps!
- Infuse 1 litre of water with chosen ingredient. For teas, brew in boiling water for 10-15 minutes and strain. For fruits and vegetables e.g. cucumber or lime husks, macerate for 24hours in fridge and strain.
- Pour your chilled, strained liquid into soda siphon and double charge with Co2 cartridges.
- After each charge, shake and vent carbon dioxide out of siphon by holding the release nozzle.
- It is important to note that liquids need to be chilled and strained through cheesecloth as any excess residue from tea will form nucleation sites meaning the carbonation won’t be as effective.
Why: A technique that can really bring culinary flavours into drinks, including those which customers may not naturally associate with drinks.
How to do it:
Fat washing is incorporating fats and oils from fruits, poultry or dairy products into spirits. It adds unbelievable flavour, texture and can be a really impressive if done right! You can use bacon, butter, duck fat and coconut oil. Butter and bourbon is a must but being Irish, butter is a way of life! Follow these steps:
- Simmer the chosen ingredient you wish to incorporate the fat/oil off on a frying pan, making sure you do not burn the fat/oil as it will not taste good.
- Pour the fat into a container with the chosen spirit you wish to infuse.
- Place the fat/spirit mixture into a freezer for 6-8 hours.
- Once you take it out of the freezer you will see the fat has risen to the top of the container and the liquid to the bottom.
- Fine strain off the fat and you will be left with a fat washed spirit with great flavours.
Practise – Foam & Airs
Margarita with a twist
40ml DON JULIO BLANCO
20ml Agave Sec
20ml of Lime Juice
( 2.2 standard drinks* - 1.8 units per serve)
For the Foam:
200ml Lime Juice
2 Teaspoons of table salt
½ Teaspoon of sugar (depending on preference)
Add ingredients to a tin and shake vigorously.
Fine strain into pre chilled coupe glass and layer salted Lecithin foam on top.
Practise - Carbonisation
The Mexican Rose
45 ml DON JULIO BLANCO
10ml Fino Sherry
5ml Green Chartreuse
10ml Lime juice
10ml Lime sherbet
2 Dashes of Peychauds Bitters
Cucumber and rose water champagne soda
( 2.2 standard drinks* - 1.9 units per serve)
Place ingredients, except soda, into mixing tin and throw 6-8 times until chilled.
Strain into ice filled red wine glass.
Add cucumber and rose water champagne soda and stir.
Garnish with edible rose, cucumber or edible flowers.
1 Litre of Cucumber and Rosewater (infuse 1 litre of water with chopped cucumber with 50ml Rosewater for 24hrs)
Add 50ml Champagne acid solution* and charge with two Co2 cartridges in soda siphon (*Champagne Acid -6g Tartaric Acid, 6g Lactic Acid mixed with 100ml water)
Practise – Fat Washing
Dutch Summer Punch (serves 10)
500ml Coconut oil washed KETEL ONE VODKA*
120ml Crème De Peche
300ml Pineapple juice
200ml Lime juice
75ml Sugar syrup
Pineapple chunks, pineapple leaves, lime wheels and fresh mint for garnish
Add all the ingredients to punch bowl over block ice.
Stir and garnish with pineapple chunks, pineapple leaves, lime wheels and fresh mint.
* For coconut washed KETEL ONE VODKA
Add 200grams of coconut oil to a pan and let dissolve on a low/medium heat
Pour the oil into container along with 1 bottle of 750ml of KETEL ONE VODKA
Leave in freezer for 6-8 hours until the alcohol and oil have separated.
Strain off the vodka and you are ready to make punch.
(2.2 standard drinks* - 2 units per serve)
These are just some techniques bars are utilising and for any newbie bartender reading this it will be a lot to take in. We all start somewhere so please don’t be put off! Experiment with flavours, techniques and they will become a daily part of your routine. Enjoy!
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(*One standard drink contains 8g of alcohol)