Wines & Drinks

Bartending 101: 6 Tips For Better Cocktails

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Bartending is a difficult craft. It may seem as easy as mixing a few drinks here and there, but a lot more goes into bartending. The beginner DIY cocktails you may have been making at home are far from those you find in a bar. There’s a good reason for that. Bartenders study and always aim to consistently improve and perfect their craft. 

The best bartenders didn’t become so overnight. They recognize the need to improve their craft through consistently learning new tricks and shot recipes. Whether you’re a beginner trying to improve your cocktails or you’ve long been bartending, you’ve hit the right place today. 

That learning begins now with these six helpful tips to develop better cocktails. 

  • Keep Your Workspace Clean 

Better cocktails can never be achieved with a dirty workstation. Maintaining a clean station is important, so your customers get excited to hold your cocktails. Bars have a reputation for being sticky and grimy, and that’s a major no-no for customers. In fact, this is something a bartending school will also teach, beyond whipping up good cocktails. You’ll also have to learn how to keep your workspace clean and well organized.

Moreover, your cocktails will look bad when made from a dirty workstation. For instance, if your shakers aren’t clean, the flavors may get mixed into another drink where it isn’t supposed to. Bacteria can thrive too, and the last thing you’d want is to have sick customers from a dirty, smelly glass and gross cocktail. 

  • Take Those Samples! 

Say today is when you’re off to go shopping for new drinks to add to your bar or to replenish old stock. You’ll surely come across a few sales agents who have samples to hand for their alcoholic beverages. Don’t skip those samples. They’re free, so try them out. 

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A good bartender isn’t afraid to try new things. Plus, you’ll be ahead of other bartenders when you consistently have new drinks to offer to your customers. You can’t give a trusted recommendation on how your cocktails taste when you haven’t even tried them out yourself. 

  • Know All Your Base Liquors 

Bartenders will all have their respective base liquors for basic drinks. It’s important to master and know all these base liquors which form the foundation of good cocktails. When you’ve mastered these base liquors, it becomes easier to mix and match different cocktail ingredients without fear that your recipe won’t taste amazing. Just be sure to consult a liquor licensing expert for legal selling.

To start, here are a few basic pointers to take note of: 

  • The best vodka for cocktails should always be flavorless. 
  • Tequila and mezcal are best for drinks with citrus flavors like margaritas. 
  • Gin is best when made from juniper berries, usually great for martinis. 
  • Rum is the key ingredient in daiquiris and can either be brown or clear. 
  • Whiskey is best known for its smoky taste. Double Oak has plenty of accessories that can elevate your whiskey drinks.
  • Stay Calm 

Like in cooking, an unhappy, disgruntled, and stressed-out bartender will show in your cocktails. However, this fourth tip is difficult to follow as even the most seasoned bartenders can give in to all the stress and pressure. It’s difficult not to talk back to a rude customer or not to panic when the bar suddenly gets jampacked with orders. But, having all that patience to stay calm and happy makes a big difference. 

  • Learn When Its Best To Stir 

Shaking isn’t the only way to mix cocktails. Some are better off with a gentler mode of mixing like stirring. Shaking is best for fruity and mixer-driven cocktails. However, a short, spirit-led cocktail is best stirred to preserve a more velvet-like texture. 

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To stir the right way, only use a long-handled bar spoon. Stir for approximately 20 to 30 seconds to properly chill and dilute. 

  • Keep Your Bar Well-Stocked 

A bartender’s horror experience must be coming up with alternative ingredients simply because the bar isn’t well-stocked. Like a kitchen pantry, keeping stock of the basics ensures your cocktails are always of the best taste and quality. 

No matter how busy your schedule may be, find time during the week to do a regular inventory of your cocktail ingredients. After making that inventory, go for a shopping trip immediately so that you’re ready for another busy night in the bar. 

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Bartending is also referred to as the art of mixology. It’s that conscious effort to come up with the best drinks so that you can have customers coming back to your bar for more. Bars are plentiful nowadays, so you’ll want to stand out. Your cocktails have to be as delicious as they’re aesthetically pleasing. Now’s the best time to improve so that your bar becomes the go-to of many in your area, rather than be the stop along the way or the second choice when another is full.

Philip Okoye
the authorPhilip Okoye
Your favorite recipe author, faithful to every course. Mail me at

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