Bartending Mixed Drink Secrets

If you want to be a great home or party bartender, one of your best friends is ice. It’s one of the most over looked ingredient but one of the most essential.

Ice Cubes Photo
Ice Cubes Photo

A common mistake in preparing a good cocktail drink recipe is not paying attention to the ice. If you’re using the ice from your freezer, it probably absorbed odors from the other frozen foods you store. The longer the ice remains in your freezer the greater effect it will have on the taste of your drink. Ice that has been stored in a freezer for a long period of time, at least a week or more has a slightly fishy smell.

Bartenders at your favorite watering hole use ice from commercial ice machines. This ice is made with filtered water and stored in an ice bin. It’s not exposed to other food odors like you home freezer and is clear in color and has a clean taste.

Like many other items, ice will absorb odors in the freezer. Ice that spent too much time to time in the freezer will give a cocktail an unpleasant fishy taste. If you live in an area with hard water, it will have a heavy mineral flavor. Buy a bag of ice that has been made with filtered water at your local convenience store. If you don’t use all the ice, seal the bag tightly to keep out those nasty freezer odors. Commercial softened water is another thing that affects ice. It uses large amounts of sodium and will add a salty taste to cocktail drinks.

The type of ice you use will determine how diluted the drink will be from the meltage. Large cubes are good for drinks that contain clear non-sweet spirits, and not mixed with fruit juice mixes or cream. Small cubes are good for any drink that you shake. Crushed ice works best with frozen blended drinks. Experiment with different shapes of ice to determine what works best for you. At American Bartending School we prefer to use small cubes. They easily fill different types of glasses, are excellent for shaking cocktails drinks and melt quickly to chill the drink.

Experiment with different sizes of ice to help you determine what best suits your style of bartending mixology.

Bartending Salaries

Bartenders Earn a Salary and Tips
Bartenders Earn a Salary and Tips

A frequently asked question here at American Bartending School is what salary can a person earn bartending?

Bartenders work for a salary and tips. The salary is usually $9-$10 per hour plus tips. The salary may be higher or lower depending on how busy the establishment is and the state’s minimum hourly laws.

Most bartenders aren’t concerned with the hourly salary. They are much more concerned more about the tips and how busy the bar is. Tips can be substantial and this is one of the most attractive reasons to be a bartender. According to the “CNN Summer Tipping Guide “2009, a patron should tip $1 a drink or 15%-20% of bar bill before tax. Some customers may tip more or less depending on the level of service and the demeanor of the bartender.

The tips can be considerable because a bartender can serve 100 to 200 drinks per shift. Some of our graduates working at clubs and restaurants have told us that on during a good shift they can earn $300 to $400 and sometimes more. A shift is a working day.

Remember that good tips depend on good service. This is something that we constantly stress and cover extensively in our bartending school training program. No server or bartender should expect a tip when they provide poor service.

If you’re now a bartender or someone who wants to be a bartender, here are a few simple suggestions on how to give good service to increase your tips.

• Always acknowledge customers when they arrive or want another drink.

• Always greet customers with a smile and a friendly hello.

• Always ask how there drink is after they have had a chance to taste it.

• Always say thank you when they pay their tab.

• Always say good bye and thank them for coming in.

10 Best New York City Wine Bars

According to Robert Sietsema writing for the Village Voice, these are the 10 best wine bars in New York City. We’d love to hear what you think of these wine bars. Since we are all about bartending, we’d really like to know what you think of the bartenders at these places. Are the bartenders knowledgeable about wine? Are the bartenders friendly or good looking? We want to hear from you – so let us know.

  1. D.O.C. Wine Bar, 87 North 7th Street, Brooklyn, 718-963-1925 docwinebar.com According to Google’s reviews, DOC ranks 4.5 stars with almost 50 reviews. The top reviewer said this about DOC, “If you love Italian food and Italians, “the real ones” you must try this wine bar !!! The food is great and they have an incredibly interesting Italian wine selection.”
  2. Gottino, 52 Greenwich Avenue, 212-633-2390 ilovegottino.com Users have rated Gottino with a solid 3.5 stars but the reviews are mixed. One reviewer claims they “had an absolute wonderful experience, friendly service with great explanations, small, but not too small, plates, not cheap, but entirely reasonable for the city. chairs a bit uncomfortable, but that’s about the only downside I found,” while another reviewer said “Although gottino’s wine list is laughable, the bartenders exude a stuck-up, holier-than-thou attitude about their meager offerings. Couple this with uncomfortable seating, a narrow space, a faux-rustic feel, and a clientele that makes you wish you brought a pillow, gottino is best avoided.”
  3. Inoteca, 98 Rivington Street, 212-614-0473 inotecanyc.com Also rated a 3.5, reviewers say, “inoteca is wonderful … relaxed, romantic, hip, tasty. we had a very informal wedding, and had our wedding dinner at inoteca. they were wonderful. of course, we have been there a billion other times … great italian wine list. ” Another commentor said, “ I feel like I am visiting Italy and the food is delicious, healthy and affordable. I recommend the beet salad, the vegetarian lasagna & enjoy find your favorite wine from their list of lush Italian wines.”
  4. Bar Jamon, 125 East 17th Street, 212-253-2773
  5. Total Wine Bar, 74 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-783-5166
  6. Morrell Wine Bar, 1 Rockefeller Plaza, 212-262-7700
  7. Ten Bells, 247 Broome Street, 212-228-4450
  8. Turks and Frogs, 458 Greenwich Street, 212-966-4774
  9. The Upholstery Store, 713 Washington Street, 212-352-2300
  10. Vesta, 2102 30th Avenue, Queens, 718-545-5550

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Hot Liquor Trends 2009

Here are the top drink recipe trends according to the National Restaurant Association:

Top alcohol trends

  1. Micro-distilled liquor. Micro-distilled liquers are small run “boutique” distilleries making high quality, often specialty liqures like vodka and whiskey. Check out Sunshine Vodka by Green Mountain Distillers. When you are out next time, ask the bartender if the feature any micro-distilled liquors and substitute one in your favorite mixed drink recipe.
  2. Culinary cocktails. Culinary cocktails are drinks recipes that feature organic herbs and vegetables normally used by chefs in the kitchen. An example is the Basil 8 at Table 8 in Los Angeles. It’s made with an unexpected combo of crushed white grapes, vodka, ginger ale, Angostura bitters and basil. It sounds weird, but it’s totally the best drink ever according to Alexandra Tellier over at metromix.com.
  3. Organic wine. The idea of organic wine really isn’t new, but more like coming full circle back to wine’s origins. However, for a wine to be labeled “Organic” and bear the USDA organic seal, it must be made from organically grown grapes and give information about who the certifying agency is. A wine in this category cannot have any added sulfites. It may have naturally occurring sulfites, but the total sulfite level must be less than 20 parts per million.

Top non-alcoholic beverage trends

  1. Specialty iced tea. A Dallas company’s new iced tea line, introduced in July, features three flavors—lemonade green tea, vanilla black tea, and berry-hibiscus tea—all fortified with probiotic cultures, which are said to promote digestive health. Not to mention we’ve all see the new Snapples commercials featuring “better stuff”.
  2. Organic coffee. Much like organic wine, organic coffee must meet a set of guidelines.
  3. Flavored/enhanced water is flavored and “nutritionally enhanced” bottled water that has been jazzed up with everything from cucumber to mango and grapefruit extracts, infused with vitamins, minerals and electrolytes and loaded with herbal supplements, antioxidants and oxygen.

Secrets Of Good Cocktails

Most the mixed drink recipes you find in bartending guides or on internet cocktail drink websites don’t result in good tasting drinks. The recipes are usually not written by working bartenders in the trade. Here some tips for making great tasting cocktail drinks.

  1. Use the proper amount of liquor. Most drinks shouldn’t contain more than 11/2 ounce of liquor. Too much liquor in a mixed drink overpowers the senses and will result in quick inebriation.
  2. Use the proper amount of mix. Use too little and the taste of the alcoholic spirit overpowers the drink. Use to little and all you taste is the mix. A simple rule is that drink recipes containing carbonated beverages or fruit juices should contain three times the amount of alcoholic spirit.
  3. Drinks containing cream should use twice as much cream as alcoholic spirit.
  4. Drink recipes using a sour citrus juice like lime or lemon and sugar, or a commercial sour bar mix should use twice the amount of alcoholic spirit.
  5. When mixing a drink recipe, always pour the alcoholic spirit first and the mix last. You don’t want the strong taste of the alcoholic spirit to overwhelm the taste.
  6. Give a quick gentle stir to drink recipes that aren’t shaken or blended. This will blend the flavors of the mix and spirits

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