For first-time bartenders or those looking for tips and tricks, you’ve come to the right place.
We asked bartenders across the country for their top ticks and tips for improving their mixing skills. As with everything, there is always room for improvement. Whether you are looking to learn something new or want a refresh before heading back into the bar scene, these tips will help.
Let’s see what each bartender has to say.
Antonio Gonzales from San Diego
Tip: Read The Flavor Bible! Go out and talk to a bartender on a slow night and pick their brains. Compete to challenge yourself. Cook at home and play with flavors!
Pro Tip: I think most bartenders know this, but for those who do not, rapid infusion using an IOS canister. Also, kick up house-made grenadine with a dash of orange blossom or rose water!
PJ Wagner from Chicago
Tip: Read, read, read, read, read, read books, read articles, magazines, Instagram posts. Never stop studying. What was good enough yesterday is not good enough today. Also, while reading, focus on understanding the “why” behind what it is the others are doing.
Pro tip: Seal your oleo Saccharum to increase the extraction rate!
Erica Long from Chicago
Tip: Ask questions when you’re out! What was their inspiration? What did they learn during the creation process? Anything that comes to your mind! Bartenders are happy to share knowledge, and some of the best info I’ve ever gotten has been simply by finding a bar I love and the person I admire, ordering a cocktail, and being inquisitive.
Pro tip: Learning stirring, shaking, and pouring isn’t exclusively about the end result and even less so about looking cool… stretching, studying how your body moves, and practicing healthy movement are key to success. Practice bottle pickups, stirs, and shakes that will help you avoid repetition injuries from the beginning! They’re easier to avoid than fix!
Zev Glesta from New York
Tip: Take advice, try different techniques. Study the specs! Learn the classics!
Pro tip: Learning to jigger with a bottle in one hand is super show off… but also very helpful. I like to think it’s “loading” a cocktail in your hand.
Christopher Lockwood from New York
Pro Tip: While studying a diverse cross-section of cocktail books is super helpful and inspiring, I’ve been more into cookbooks recently. I find them to be particularly useful when experimenting with flavors that are somewhat foreign to me (specifically Japanese and South Asian things presently.) While the Flavor Bible and the Flavor Thesaurus are valuable resources in understanding flavor pairings, I find looking at the complete composition of a dish helps me think about things in a very different and inspiring way.
Brandon Muske from Pittsburgh
Pro Tip: Get a weigh scale and measure by weight. You and your team will yield better, more consistent results.
David Shenaut from Portland
Tip: Mind your pints and quarts.
Pro Tip: Besides staying sober and tracking the details, “p’s&q’s.” For the final cut, taste the drink 3X! 1. During the build. 2. After Chill and dilution. 3. After left to warm at room temperature. Flaws will present themselves, and adjustments will need to be made. Perfection is not attainable focus on constraints.
Melanie Klinpier from Minneapolis
Tip: Never stop experimenting! Mix flavor profiles that typically wouldn’t go together. You never know. And always educate yourself by reading up on mixology! Always take notes on what you’re doing for when you hit that master recipe!
Jonathan Turner from Atlanta
Tip: Experiment, experiment, experiment!
Pro Tip: Work closely with your chefs or a chef that you trust. I would suggest even working in the kitchen a few times a month with the said chef. You start to approach things in a different manner!
Rebecca Ahnert from Las Vegas
Tip: Some of my best drinks came from base notes in perfume. That is a secret I don’t divulge often. I have the flavor bible and many other books like it that have been gifted to me by the chefs I’ve worked for, but especially in spring and summer, I look at base notes in gourmand perfumes! Two of my best-selling cocktails were inspired by Viktor Rolph Spice Bomb Cologne for men and See by Chloe!
Kelly Fitzsimonds from St. Augustine
Pro Tip: I have been working at a booze-free bar one day a week for over a year, just to experiment with N/A spirits and new flavors.
Jozlyn Pust from Denver
Pro Tip: The tip that changed me for the better? Always keep both hands moving! Practice that ambidexterity!