There are thousand ways to make a cocktail, but only very few to make it right. With this comprehensive guide of bartending techniques, and a bit of practice, getting your drink right will become second nature.


Place ingredients in an electric blender with ice. Ensure the top is securely closed. Turn the blender on. If ice prevents the blades from spinning, turn the blender off. Remove the blender cup from the blender, and use a bar spoon to reposition the contents. Close the lid securely and try again.

Blending a drink generally takes from 20 to 30 seconds. A hand blender cannot be substituted for a standard blender to make frozen drinks as it cannot properly crush the ice.

Making a twist

Twist is not just a noun. Twist is also a verb. It is the action that releases the essential citrus oils form the lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit peel onto the surface of the drink and the inside edges of the glass. A twist is best fresh cut, and may only be twisted effectively one time. After that the oils have been released from the pores of the citrus skin further twisting will not release any additional flavor. For this reason it is important that a twist is twisted properly.

After cutting a twist, be careful not to fold or twist it until it is directly over the drink, at a distance of about three to six inches above the rim. Hold the twist between the thumb and forefinger on both hands so that you will fold it lengthwise when you squeeze it. Then over the glass give the twist one firm squeeze. Afterwards, you may run the twist peel side down around the rimTwisting of the glass to intensify its effect. Additionally, the twist may be used for garnish or discarded.


Build the ingredients for the recipe in the glass portion of the Boston Shaker. Pour the contents into the metal portion of the shaker. Fill the glass with ice cubes to approximately two-thirds full. Then upturn the glass portion onto the metal portion and create a firm seal by tapping or pressing on the base of the glass part. The glass will not sit straight in the metal, but it is not meant to.

On one side the glass and metal should be touching all the way to the rim of the metal, while the rest of the way around, there should be a gap above the point where the mouth of the glass touches the metal.

With the point of most contact facing you, grasp above and below the seal with both hands, placing your thumbs and index fingers on the glass, while your other fingers should grasp the metal. This ensures that even if your seal is not tight, the two parts will not separate when you shake them.

Now, raise the shaker and proceed to shake in a manner that sends the liquid and ice in the shaker back and forth inside the length of the shaker. A slight up and down motion combined with the forward and back motion causes the contents of the shaker to spin as well as moving back and forth.

The goals of shaking are to mix the contents of the shaker, to add proper dilution through rapid melting of ice, to cool the liquid rapidly, and to brighten the flavors by thorough aeration.

Depending on the temperature of the ice (colder ice takes requires more shaking and thus makes a superior drink), a drink should be shaken from 10 to 20 seconds.

To open the Boston shaker after shaking, place your hand on the seam between the glass and metal portions as above so that both the metal and glass portions are firmly grasped, and the point of most contact between the glass and metal is facing toward you. Then with the heel of your other hand, tap the rim of the metal firmly once or twice. This will release the seal. Then as you lift off the glass portion turn it quickly upright so that you do not spill the last drops from the glass onto the bar.


A classic mixing technique throwing was very common, perhaps the most common way to mix drinks in bars from the late 1700s to the mid-1800s when the two-part shaker became standard.

Slightly oversized mixing glasses with pour spouts are best. To throw, first build the drink with ice in a mixing glass. Place a julep strainer over the drink. Hold an empty mixing glass next to the full one. As you pour from one to the other, steadily increase the distance between the two by raising the full one and lowering the empty one. Keep the lower one slightly tilted so that the drink lands mainly on the side of the inside rather than the bottom where is it more prone to splashing.

Once the stream of liquid has drained from the throwing glass into the receiving glass, bring the two glasses together and pour the liquid back over the ice without extending the distance between the glasses, as the throw is only done from the glass with ice to the glass without ice. Then repeat the throw three of four times. The ice never leaves the throwing glass as it should be held back securely by the julep strainer throughout the throwing process.

With practice, it is possible to raise the mixing glass with ice as high as you can reach while lowering the catching glass as low as you can reach creating a distance of up to five vertical feet depending on the length of your arms.


All ingredients are combined in a glass without shaking, stirring or straining. This technique is most often used in sparkling drinks such as Champagne cocktails where it is desirable to preserve the effervescence. In this case it is not necessary to shake or stir as the motion created by the rising bubbles will mix the drink.


Using the muddler end of a bar spoon or a muddler, crush the ingredients in the bottom of a glass with a firm repeated pressing motion combined with a slight twist of the muddler with each downward stroke. This is most commonly used on wedges of citrus fruit and is essential to release the flavors from the peel, the pulp, and the pith (the white part between the peel and the pulp). A dozen firm strokes with the muddler is usually enough. If granulated sugar is being muddled with fruit, adding a splash of water speeds the process of dissolving the sugar. Take care not to press too hard with the muddler as it is possible to break the glass wither at the base. Also, the muddler should always be used in a vertical motion to avoid cracking the rim of the glass as can happen if it is placed into the glass at too much of an angle.

The best muddlers are made of unfinished or oil finished wood, as lacquer and varnish are prone to chipping and peeling over time, and can leave flakes in drinks. Food grade plastic muddlers and silicone-tipped metal muddlers are also readily available.


This is the most gentle of the mixing techniques, and is used when it is important not to bruise a drink. It is most commonly used to mix the Bloody Mary because tomato juice loses its thickness and becomes thin when agitated.

To roll a drink, hold your filled mixing glass next to an empty one. Then pour the contents back and forth between the two mixing glass a few times, keeping the glasses close together.


Build the ingredients for the recipe in a mixing glass. You may add ice first or last. There are advantages to both: Ice added after the other ingredients can cause splashing. However, the mixing process can be interrupted at any time prior to adding the ice as the drink will not become diluted. This can be very advantageous if you discover the customer wanted a different drink after you have started mixing. Before the ice is added, the mix in the mixing glass can be set aside and will not spoil if it rests for a few minutes, or a few hours.

Ingredients should always be added to the shaker in ascending order of cost. Cheapest ingredients go first: sugar, citrus juice, dashes of bitters, splashes of cordials. This is so that if you make a mistake with any of these, you don’t waste the more expensive ingredients such as a 50ml pour of a super-premium spirit.

Once the ingredients and ice are combined in the shaker, place the bar spoon into the mixing glass near one side of the glass, not directly in the center. Place it in at a slight angle. Then holding it loosely like a pencil, begin to spin the ice, allowing the spoon to twist within your grasp rather than trying to hold it rigidly.

An average stir should be around 20 seconds. Water freezes at 0°C, but ice can be much colder than that, depending on the temperature at which it is stored. Very cold ice, which looks dry on the surface, requires a slightly longer stir to provide sufficient dilution, and makes a superior drink. Warm ice looks wet and melts much faster, thus it requires a much shorter stir.

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