When using a cocktail shaker there is one golden rule to remember. Always put the ice in the shaker first, and the liquor last. This is to ensure that all ingredients are properly chilled by the ice when they are poured over the ice, and by adding the liquor last you reduce the chance of dilution.


A drink that is stirred instead of shaken will retain its clarity and be free of ice chips. Drinks based on clear liquors, like a Martini, should always be stirred and not shaken (don’t listen to James Bond when he order his Martini “shaken, not stirred”).
When stirring a cocktail you should stir it enough to mix the ingredients, but not stir it too much. If you stir too much the ice will begin to dilute the liquor. A general rule is that 10-15 stirs will be sufficient for proper mixing.
A drink containing carbonated beverage(s) should be stirred gently and briefly to retain the sparkle.


Instead of stirring, you can shake the drink. This will mix the ingredients more than stirring, but will also result in a less clear drink. Drinks that contain ingredients that are hard to mix, such as cream, fruit juices and eggs, should be shaken vigorously to ensure that the ingredients has been well mixed.


Use an electric blender to mix fresh fruit, liquor, juices and ice instead of using a shaker. Not too popular everywhere, but perfect for making frozen cocktails or to blend ingredients that are otherwise impossible to mix.


The purpose of floating is to keep each ingredients in the drink in separate layers that do not mix with the others. This will create a drink with separate layers, and this is why floating often is referred to as layering.
The easiest way to float one liquor on top of another is to use a demitasse spoon, holding it over or in the glass and slowly trickle the ingredient over the back of the spoon.


Muddling is a simple mashing technique for grinding herbs, such as mint, smooth in the bottom of a glass. You can use a wooden muddler that you buy in a bar supply store or buy a bar spoon with a muddler on the end. It crushes the herbs, much as the back of a soup spoon might, without scaring the glass.


To frost a glass, first dip it in water and then put it in the freezer for half an hour or so. Also note that metal and silver mugs and cups will frost better than glasses.

Standard Bar Measurements (US)

1 part = any equal part
1 dash/splash = 1/32 ounce
1 teaspoon (tsp) = 1/8 ounce
1 tablespoon (tblsp) = 3/8 ounce
1 pony = 1 ounce
1 jigger/bar glass = 1 ½ ounces
1 shot (*) = 1 ½ ounces
1 snit = 3 ounces
1 wineglass = 4 ounces
1 split = 6 ounces
1 cup = 8 ounces
1 pint (pt) = 16 ounces
1 quart (qt) = 32 ounces
1 fifth = 25.6 ounces (1/5 gallon)
1 gallon (gal) = 128 ounces


Metric Conversions

1 fluid ounce (oz) = 29.573 milliliters
1 quart (qt) = 9.4635 deciliters
1 gallon (gal) = 3.7854 liters
1 milliliter (ml) = 1/30 ounce
1 centiliter (cl) = 1/3 ounce
1 deciliter (dl) = 3 1/2 ounces
1 liter (l) = 34 ounces



(*) A “shotglass” is usually 1.5 ounces, but sometimes 2 ounces with a measuring line at 1.5 ounces. You can also buy (in US) “short shot” glasses or “pony shots” which are 1 ounce. Pony shots are usually used with martinis, manhattans, and rob roy.
Setting up a barBasic set of tools

When setting up a bar, you will need quite a lot of equipment. The following is a list of basic bar equipment you should have in your bar to allow you to make most drinks. You may also want to take a look at the list of additional equipment that will make life behind the bar a bit easier too.

·       Bottle opener

·       Corkscrew

·       Can opener

·       Measuring cups and spoon set

·       Bar spoon with long handle and muddler on the end

·       Juice squeezer

·       Electric blender

·       Cutting board and a sharp knife

·       Ice bucket with an ice tong

·       Mixing glass

·       Shaker and strainer

·       Bottle sealers

·       Towels

·       Boxes/jars to store garnishes in

·       Glassware

You will have to buy new supplies of the following equipment regularly.

·       Cocktail napkins and coasters

·       Swizzle sticks

·       Straws, both long and short ones

·       Cocktail picks

·       Sugar and salt (for coating rim of glasses)

Additional equipment

In addition you may wish to buy some other equipment to make things a bit easier and to be able to make additional drinks.

·       Ice crusher, preferably electric

You can crush ice manually, but with an electric crusher, it will be a whole lot easier than using a hammer.

·       Wooden muddler

·       Ice pick or chipper

·       Vegetable peeler or a twist cutter for fruit peels

·       Ice scoop

·       Funnel

·       Nutmeg grater

·       Glassware

When operating a bar, whether it be in-house or a business, you need to have certain types of glasses. The right glass can enhance the drink you are serving, making you look even better. You really do not want to serve wine in a coffee cup, a cocktail in a beer mug, and you definitely don’t want to serve an Alabama Slammer in a sherry glass. Get the point?

Different glasses

·       Beer mug

·       Beer pilsner

·       Brandy snifter

·       Champagne flute

·       Cocktail glass

·       Coffee mug

·       Collins glass

·       Cordial glass

·       Highball glass

·       Hurricane glass

·       Irish coffee cup

·       Margarita/Coupette glass

·       Mason jar

·       Old-fashioned glass

·       Parfait glass

·       Pitcher

·       Pousse cafe glass

·       Punch bowl

·       Red wine glass

·       White wine glass

·       Sherry glass

·       Shot glass

·       Whiskey sour glass

Glass accidents

When you are around any bar, home or business, you need to be concerned for yourself and your guests. Here are a few tips about accidents and what to do:

·       Always use an ice scoop and not the glass itself. Tiny slivers of glass always chip off when dipped into an ice well and your glasses become unclear after a while

·       If you accidentally break a glass near ice, always throw away all the ice. When glass shatters, pieces go everywhere. You really don’t want pieces of glass in your drink.

·       Never take a hot glass and add ice into it. This can cause the glass to shatter due to thermal shock. Be careful about this.

·       Mechanical shock occurs when you clank two glass together. One of the glasses will almost always break.

If you carry the glasses by the stem or the base you avoid fingerprints where people drink from, and you will have more support carrying the glass.

The History of the Cocktail Shaker

Antecedents of the cocktail shaker can be traced to 7000 BC in South America where the jar gourd was valued for its use as a closed container. Ancient Egyptians in 3500 BC knew that adding spices to their grain fermentations before serving made them more palatable. A forerunner of the cocktail? Well, archaeologists have yet to find a hieroglyphic list of cocktail recipes inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops. But we do know in 1520 Cortez wrote to King Charles V of Spain from the New World of a certain drink made from cacao, served to Montezuma with much reverence, frothy and foaming from a golden cylinder.

By the late 1800s, the bartender’s shaker as we know it today had become a standard tool of the trade, invented by an innkeeper when pouring a drink back and forth to mix. Finding that the smaller mouth of one container fit into another, he held the two together and shook “for a bit of a show.”

At the turn of the century, New York City hotels were serving the English custom of 5 o’clock tea and it was a short leap to the 5 o’clock cocktail hour with shakers manufactured for home use looking very much like teapots.

In the 1920s martinis were served from sterling silver shakers by high society while the less affluent made do with glass or nickel-plated devices. The Great War was over and sacrifice was replaced by a euphoria marked by party-going and a frenzied quest for pleasure. The mixed drink and cocktail shaker was powered by Prohibition. People who had never tasted a cocktail before were knocking on speakeasy doors. The outlaw culture had a powerful pull. Flappers with one foot on the brass rail ordered their choice of drinks with names like Between the Sheets, Fox Trot, and Zanzibar, liberated more by this act and smoking in public than by their new voting rights.

The International Silver Company produced shakers in the form of the Boston Lighthouse and golf bags, as well as, traditional shapes. There were rooster- and penguin-shaped shakers, and from Germany zeppelin and aeroplane shakers. Many of these shapes were not entirely capricious. The rooster, or “cock of the walk,” for example, had long served as a symbol for tavern signs. The penguin with its natural “tuxedo” symbolized the good life. The Graf Zeppelin had become the first commercial aircraft to cross the Atlantic – an 111-hour non-stop flight that captured the attention of the world.

Such ingenious designs were all the rage, cocktail shaker skills and drink rituals were as important in the Jazz Age lifestyle as the latest dance steps. Colorful cocktails with sweet mixes stretched out the supply of illicit alcohol and helped disguise the taste of homemade hooch. While gin, easier to duplicate than rye or scotch, became the drink of choice and the martini society’s favorite.

But the real popularity explosion of cocktail shakers occurred after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Now they were featured frequently on the silver screen, shakers and accoutrements part of every movie set. Stars were constantly sipping cocktails when they weren’t lighting each others’ cigarettes, both de rigueur symbols of sophistication. Nick and Nora Charles, the delightfully sodden couple that poured their way through endless martinis in The Thin Man series, knew how to shake a drink with style, as did the tens of thousands of Americans who shook, swirled, and swilled cocktails by the shaker-full in the years following the repeal of Prohibition. Movie fans watched Fred and Ginger dance across the screen, cocktail glass in hand, and wanted their own symbol of the good life to shake themselves out of the Depression that gripped the country.

The Art Deco movie set aesthetic was perfect for the Depression-driven cocktail shaker. To meet popular demand, machine age factories, geared for mass production, began turning them out in droves. Fashioned from the high-tech materials of the day, chrome-plated stainless steel shakers with Bakelite trim replaced those of sterling silver and were advertised as “non-tarnishing, no polishing needed.” The great glass companies, such as Cambridge, Heisey, and Imperial, leaped into action. Stunning etched and silk-screened designs were created, often in brilliant hues of ruby or cobalt. Industrial design was at the height of popularity and superstar designers such as Russel Wright, Kem Weber, and Lurelle Guild created streamlined modern masterpieces, many in the shape of the new deity of architecture, the skyscraper. If there is a definitive classic it would have to be the sleek 1936 chrome-plated “Manhattan Skyscraper serving set” by master industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes, sought by collectors of today as the perfect mix of form and function.

By the end of the decade, shakers had become standard household objects, affordable to all. Every family had at least one shaker on the shelf. There were now cocktail shakers in the shape of bowling pins, dumbbells, town criers bells, and even in the shape of a lady’s leg. The cocktail party had influenced fashion, furniture, and interior design. Coffee tables were now cocktail tables, and the little black dress, designed by Coco Chanel, went from fad to fashion, and is now an institution.

At the beginning of the 1940s, the Depression ended, but not in the way most had hoped. It ended on December 7, 1941. The golden era of the cocktail shaker was over, and America’s involvement in World War II began. All metal went to the war effort. Companies that once made cocktail shakers, now made artillery shells. After the war, few thought of the shakers. We were in the atomic age, thinking of jet-propelled airplanes, a thing called television, and new cars with lots of chrome.

In the early 1950s, a brief renewal of interest in cocktail shakers occurred when new homes featuring finished basements, called “roc rooms,” were equipped with bars. But the push-button age had taken the fun out of mixing drinks. Shakers came with battery-powered stirring devices. Worse yet, electric blenders became popular; drop in some ice, add the alcohol of your choice, a package of “redi-mix,” flick a switch and…. Gone were the rites and rituals, the showmanship, the reward for effort. Small wonder, then, that these elegant stars of the 1930s were forced into retirement.

And there they sat – in attics and closets nationwide – waiting to be recalled to life. Over 50 years have passed now, and one can faintly hear the clink of ice cubes as shakers are, once again, a symbol of elegance.

Stocking your bar

You cannot make drinks out of the equipment, so you’ll probably want to buy a selection of liquors and mixers too. It is impossible to make a list that “fits all” without including every possible liquor in the World, but here are a few guidelines on what to buy.

You should always choose your bar stock to suit your guests. Young people often prefer the more exotic drinks, so you will need various fruit juices and flavored liqueurs instead of the darker liquors (like whiskey) older people often prefer.

It is likely you will experience requests for drinks you cannot make, but that happen to almost every bar now and then. You can add new liquors to your bar stock later, and should learn how to mix what you have in the meantime.

well stocked bar should have the following, but you should consider the number and type of guests you expect before buying.

·       Gin (dry)

·       Vodka

·       Rye (or Canadian whiskey)

·       Bourbon

·       Scotch whiskey

·       Rum (light)

·       Vermouth (dry and sweet)

·       Tequila

·       White and red wine (dry)

·       Beer (lager)

·       Cognac (or other brandy)

·       Different liqueurs:

o   Advocaat (somewhat like brandy eggnog)

o   Amaretto (almond)

o   Anisette (anise)

o   Benedictine (herbs)

o   Chambord (black-raspberry)

o   Chartreuse (herbs)

o   Contreau (oranges, like curaçao)

o   Crème de Cacao (cacao)

o   Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant)

o   Crème de Menthe (mint)

o   Crème de Violette (lavender)

o   Crème Yvette (violets)

o   Curaçao (oranges)

o   Galliano (herbs and spices)

o   Godiva (chocolate)

o   Goldwasser (herbs and spices, flecked with gold leaf bits)

o   Grand Marnier (champagne and curaçao)

o   Irish Mint (whiskey and cream)

o   Kahlúa (coffee)

o   Kümmel (caraway)

o   Mandarine Napoléon (tangerine)

o   Midori (melon)

o   Ouzo (anise)

o   Peter Heering (cherry)

o   Prunelle (plum)

o   Sabra (orange and chocolate)

o   Sambuca (wild elderberries)

o   Southern Comfort (peach)

o   Strega (orange and spices)

o   Tia Maria (coffee)

o   Triple Sec (oranges, like curaçao)




In addition to the liquors, you will need different mixers, flavorings and garnishes.

·       Club soda

·       Tonic water

·       Ginger ale

·       7-Up or Sprite

·       Cola

·       Juices:

o   Tomato juice

o   Orange juice

o   Pineapple juice

o   Cranberry juice

o   Grapefruit juice

·       Bitters

·       Grenadine

·       Maraschino liqueur

·       Worcestershire sauce

·       Tabasco sauce

·       Milk

·       Coffee

·       Heavy cream

·       Cherries (maraschino)

·       Green olives (small)

·       Cocktail onions

·       Lemons, limes and oranges

·       Sugar, salt and pepper.

Fruited Ice Cubes


Suggested Fruits                                          Beverage


Lemon slices                                              Iced tea

Strawberries, raspberries,                                Lemonade

lemon or lime slices

Pineapple chunks; grapes;                                 Punch

strawberries; raspberries;

maraschino cherries;

mandarin oranges; orange,

lemon or lime slices

Lime slices, strawberries,                               Ginger ale


To make fruited ice cubes, fill an ice-cube tray halfway with water; freeze until firm, about 1 1/2 hours. Place one or two pieces of desired fruit in each section of the tray. Fill with water; freeze until firm, about 1 1/2 hours. If desired, substitute lemonade or a light-colored juice for the water.

Gravity Chart

When making layered drinks, also known as a Pousse Cafe, you’ll need to know which ingredients are heavier than the others. The technique is simple; the heaviest liquor is poured into the glass first, and the lighter ones are layered carefully on top with the lightest one on top.

This table lists some common liquors, along with their Specific Gravity that is the weight of the liquor relative to water. Higher values indicate heavier liquor.

Name Gravity Color
Southern Comfort 0.97
Tuaca 0.98 Amber
Water 1.00 White
Green Chartreuse 1.01 Green
Cointreau 1.04 White
Peach liqueur 1.04 Dark amber
Sloe gin 1.04 Deep red
Kummel 1.04 White
Peppermint schnapps 1.04 White
Benedictine 1.04
Brandy 1.04 Amber
Midori melon liqueur 1.05 Green
Rock and Rye 1.05 Amber
Apricot brandy 1.06 Amber
Blackberry brandy 1.06 Dark red
Cherry brandy 1.06 Dark red
Peach brandy 1.06 Dark amber
Campari 1.06 Red
Yellow Chartreuse 1.06 Yellow
Drambuie 1.08
Frangelico 1.08
Orange Curacao 1.08 Orange
Triple sec 1.09 White
Tia maria 1.09 Brown
Apricot liqueur 1.09 Amber
Blackberry liqueur 1.10 Dark red
Amaretto 1.10 Light brown
Blue Curacao 1.11 Blue
Cherry liqueur 1.12 Dark red
Galliano 1.11 Golden yellow
Green Crème de Menthe 1.12 Green
White Crème de Menthe 1.12 White
Strawberry liqueur 1.12 Red
Parfrait d’Amour 1.13 Violet
Coffee liqueur 1.14 Dark brown
Crème de Banane 1.14 Yellow
Dark Crème de Cacao 1.14 Brown
White Crème de Cacao 1.14 White
Kahlua 1.15 Dark brown
Crème de Almond 1.16
Crème de Noyaux 1.17 Bright red
Anisette 1.17 White
Crème de Cassis 1.18