As I headed to Scotland to work as a bartender, my Uncle Larry got me a book on bartending, as I had no idea what I was doing. Actually, I still have no idea what I am doing when it comes to making drinks, but this book helped me be just a little less than pathetic.
So, as I have found some portions of the book, "Mr. Boston: Official Bartender's and Party Guide," exceptionally helpful, I thought there might be some of you as clueless as me out there, and you might need some help. These are some of the things, I really didn't know. You can thank me later.
Bitters are made from combinations of "roots, barks, berries, and herbs." They all have their own signature flavor and are used to add "zest to mixed drinks."
Did you know that vermouth is classified as a white appetizer wine? Yup, it is. And is flavored with "as many as thirty to forty different herbs, roots, berries, flowers, and seeds. There are nearly as many vermouth formulas as there are brand labels." Which really doesn't clear much up for me, but I will continue... "The dry variety (French) is light gold in color and has a delightful nutty flavor. Sweet (Italian) vermouth is red, richer in flavor, and more syrupy." Vermouth goes bad quickly and if left in an open bottle, the flavor and freshness are lost. Refrigeration of vermouth is highly recommended.
How To Chill A Glass There are three ways to do this. All chilling must be done before you fill the glass. - a. Put the glasses in the freezer or refrigerator for a couple hours before you use them. - b. Fill the glasses with crushed ice right before you use it. - c. Fill the glasses with cracked ice and stir it around before pouring in the drink.
How To Muddle Muddling is the name of the technique used for crushing herbs into the bottom of your glass. Mint is often muddled. Bar stores sell wooden muddlers (and if you have an idea what one looks like, I would love to know). Mr Boston suggests trying the back of of a soup spoon, because it crushes the herbs without marring or scarring your glassware.
When To Shake "Shake any drink made with juices, sugar, or cream."
Floating Liquors You know those fun rainbow effects you get sometimes when you buy shots at a bar? Well here is how you do it. "Simply pour each liquor slowly over an inverted teaspoon (rounded side up) into a glass: Start with the heaviest liquor first.)" "Pour slowly." "You can accomplish the same trick using a glass rode. Pour slowly down the rod."
4. Stocking A Bar
According to Mr. Boston, this is what you need for a good bar.
Alcohol - Bourbon - Brandy and Cognac - Gin - Rum (Light and Dark) - Scotch - Tequila (White and Gold) - Vodka - Whiskey (Blended and Irish) - Various Liquors - Vermouth (Sweet and Dry) - Red and White Wine (Dry) - Fruit-flavored Brandies - Beer (Lager, Ale, and Stout) - Champagne
And when you have gotten all of these, feel free to invite me over to your bar.
Mixers - Mineral Water - Cola - Club Soda - Ginger Ale - Lemon-Lime Soda - Tonic Water - Water - Fresh Lemon, Lime, and Orange Juice - Grapefruit Juice - Cranberry Juice - Pineapple Juice - Tomato Juice - Coconut Cream
Condiments - Bitters - Grenadine - Powdered and Granulated Sugar - Coarse Salt - Ground Black Pepper - Tabasco Sauce - Worcestershire Sauce (one of the few things I can't pronounce!) - Orgeat Syrup (almond-flavored syrup) - Horseradish - Cinnamon Sticks - Ground Cinnamon and Nutmeg - Light and Whipping Cream - Passion Fruit Syrup (uhm... right...WHY?) - Simple Syrup - Milk
Garnishes - Stuffed Olives - Cocktail Onions - Lemons - Limes - Oranges - Maraschino Cherries - Strawberries - Celery - Pineapple - Bananas - Cucumber - Fresh Mint
Carrie would like to also add that little umbrellas and dangling monkeys are also imperative for a good bar!