If you’re reading this, it means you already know how to shake, stir, and garnish your cocktails. That’s what we covered in Bartending 101 - so check out that guide to brush up on your basic techniques.
As we get into Bartending 201, things get a little more advanced. You don’t need protective goggles or any kind of fancy lab equipment, but you’ll probably need some practice to get these techniques down. A perfect salt rim, for example, is surprisingly hard to achieve. Fortunately, we believe in you - and all you need is a bit of practice. Check out these tutorials, and get started.
Before you get started, you need the right equipment. If you’d like to follow our lead, here’s everything we (and a lot of bartenders) use.
How To Use Egg Whites
When you’re starting out as a bartender, you’ll experience certain revelations - such as the power of raw egg whites. When you shake a raw egg white with a drink, the cocktail increases in volume and develops a creamy texture similar to an ultra-light milkshake. Egg white cocktails also form a thick cap of foam, which is objectively fun to drink. You can add an egg white to just about any cocktail that uses lemon or lime juice, although you’ll most commonly see egg whites in sours (such as Pisco Sours or Whiskey Sours).
Step One: Find An Egg White
Any regular (chicken) egg is sufficient. But if you’re concerned about consuming a raw egg white, buy some pasteurized eggs or a carton of pasteurized egg whites.
Step Two: Add Your Egg White To A Shaker
Always add your egg white to a shaker before you add your base spirit. That way, if you get some yolk or a bunch of shell in your shaker, you won’t have to throw out several ounces liquor.
Step Three: Dry Shake
When you add an egg white to a cocktail, you need to dry shake - and that’s just a fancy way of saying ‘shaking without ice.’ Add your egg whites and all of your cocktail ingredients to a shaker, then close your shaker (without adding ice), and shake for roughly 10 seconds. That’s a dry shake.
One thing to keep in mind when dry shaking is that you’re probably going to need to hold your shaker together while you shake. And that’s due to the fact that there’s no ice. When you add ice to a shaker, the metal constricts, and the shaker can form a tight seal. But if you don’t add ice, your shaker just sort of behaves apathetically and occasionally comes apart and sprays you with warm egg white.
Step Four: Shake With Ice
After you’ve given your cocktail a dry shake, you’re ready to shake with ice. Add 5 or cubes, shake for 20 seconds, and strain your cocktail into the appropriate glassware.
How To Make A Salt Rim
Salt rims aren’t just for Margaritas. Sure, they’re mostly for Margaritas - but plenty of other cocktails call for them as well (such as the Alligator Arms). A salt rim provides (you guessed it) a touch of salinity to a cocktail, and you generally only need half a rim. That way, you can choose how much sodium to consume with each sip. Tired of salt? Drink from the part of the glass without it. And feel free to mess around with different varieties. A half-rim of smoked salt, for example, is a great way to turn a B+ beverage into an overachieving cocktail.
Step One: Plate Your Salt
You aren’t just going to dip your glass in a box of salt. Instead, pour a thin layer of salt onto a small saucer.
Step Two: Wet Your Rim
Salt won’t just automatically stick to your glass. That would be nice, but it’s not how science works. First, you have to wet the rim. The best way is to cut a citrus wedge (lime, lemon, grapefruit, etc.), then wipe the wedge around the part of your rim you want to coat with salt. You’ll also see people use stuff like honey or agave - and, while those are more effective at keeping salt on your rim, you should know that this is a dangerous game. Add too much, and your honey or agave will drip down the sides of your glass, which leads to sadness, regret, and sticky hands.
Step Three: Apply Your Salt
After you’ve wet the rim, turn your glass on its side, and gently roll the rim in your sauce or salt. You want to apply some pressure so that the salt will adhere, but you don’t want to press so hard that your glass breaks and you give up on making drinks for the rest of your life.
Step Four: Make It Pretty
At this point, you should have a salt rim - and it probably won’t be as pretty as any of the salt rims you’ve seen at fancy cocktail bars. Don’t panic. This is normal. Just take a napkin, and use it to clean up the lines of your rim and get rid of any excess salt. Bartenders do this, so you can too.
How To Rinse A Glass
To be clear, rinsing a glass is not the same as washing it. When you rinse a glass, you use a small amount of liquid to coat the inside and provide a subtle hint of flavor. This is especially useful for when you want to add an assertive alcohol (such as absinthe) to a drink without overshadowing all the other ingredients. If you want to test this out, try a Corpse Reviver No. 2.
Step One: Pour A Small Amount Of Liquid
You can always just dump some liquor straight from a bottle into your cocktail glass - but we prefer to measure it out first. That way, you won’t accidentally pour too much and waste your hard-earned alcohol. So take the spirit you’re going to rinse with, and pour .25 ounce into a jigger.
Step Two: Coat Your Glass
Take the .25 ounce liquor in your jigger, and pour it into the empty glass you plan on using for your cocktail. Next, tilt your glass from side to side, so the alcohol rolls around and coats the interior.
Step Three: Dump The Excess
Once the entire inside of your glass is coated, dump the excess liquid into your sink, a different glass, or your mouth. Your glass is now ready for its cocktail.