Mixologists Always Measure Up
Making cocktails isn’t called mixology for nothing. Bringing together a variety of ingredients to master the perfectly balanced drink is a blend of science and art.
Good cocktail making demands accuracy and for that you’ll need the right measuring tools. Size does matter and satisfaction is definitely in the measurements. In fact, you need to measure everything to get just the right levels of sweetness, sour, bitterness, booziness, spiciness, herbaciousness, fruitiness, or whatever taste.
The winning recipe takes a bit of the old patience, trial and error to fine tune. It’s all about the right combo with cocktails. Just being a fraction out on the levels can ruin a good drink and life’s too short for bad cocktails.
So, what am I trying to say here? Well the message is simply measure, measure, and measure. None of this free-pour and guesstimates business. No one makes a winning cocktail without measuring, not even the pros. If you’re going to the effort to make a cocktail at home, at least do it the right way.
I’ve put together a glossary of the most common mixing tools used for making cocktails below. It might not make you a master mixologist, but trust me; this should immediately bring your ability up from amateur to novice.
These devices fit in the top of spirit bottles and essentially, they just make it more convenient for busy bars. Basically, there are two types. Here’s the difference.
Speed or free-flow pourer
You’ll see speed pourers in most cocktail bars. They are used to streamline the flow of liquid directly from the bottle, giving the mixer greater control and minimising waste from spills and drips. They pour fast, but the bartender can hold their finger over the air hole to slow down the flow.
I wouldn’t recommend these for personal use because technically they are not measurers so they don’t improve accuracy.
Measured or shot pourer
Measured pourers dispense a measured shot directly from the bottle. To be honest, they aren’t fully reliable as they are renowned for stopping half way through a pour and even if they do deliver they are only useful for cocktail mixing if the drink requires exactly 30ml (1oz) or 45ml (1.5oz) measures.
Plus there’s another con to pourers. If left in the bottle they reduce the shelf life of the spirit because alcohol evaporates through the air hole, so it makes sense to use them in bars where there is a high turnover of spirits and reducing waste is high priority to protect profits, but not at home where a bottle may be on the shelf for months.
Every bar needs a jigger, even the home bar. A jigger is a stainless steel shot measure with a cone shaped cup on either end, these provide the convenience of two measurements – a full shot and a half shot – from the single tool. Bartenders often hold them between their index and middle finger for easy switching between the smaller and larger measures.
An alternative to a jigger is a mini multi measure or shot glass with measurements marked into the glass face. This is a handy tool for measuring quantities that deviate from standard shot and half shot measures.
Some cocktails require smaller measures of liquid or dry ingredients. In this case the most convenient tool is the stainless steel measuring spoon, just like the ones cooks use in the kitchen. Ranging in size from ¼ teaspoon to 1 tablespoon, every cocktail bar needs a set of these.
Finally, to measure larger quantities, such as mixers, you’ll need a stainless steel measuring cup that calculates in 50ml quantities up to 200ml.
So don’t ever let anyone tell you that size doesn’t matter.
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
― H. James Harrington