Bartending Basics

Some common terms and their measurements

How do you define ‘Parts’?

Many recipes call for measurements in "parts". This is simply a relative measurement, often used for mixing large batches of drinks at once. So if the recipe calls for 1 part of ingredient A, and 2 parts of ingredient B, then you are advised to use twice as much of ingredient B.

Define ‘Shot Glasses’

A proper shot glass is 1.5 oz., but many bars use "pony shots", which are only 1 oz.
A double shot glass holds 3 ounces.

The Difference between Dash and Splash

These are terms that simply refer to small amounts. When you are using dashes or splashes, you are flavouring a cocktail just for taste. Don’t add too much, but make sure you use enough to be noticed. A splash is a little more than a dash, and generally involves less viscous liquids such as mixers, whereas dashes are used with stronger flavourings.

Assortment of Glasses that go with your drink


  • Shot - A squat glass that holds between 1 and 2 oz. of single or mixed liquor. The "shot" is tossed back in a single gulp.
  • Cocktail - This glass has a thin stem with an angular bowl sitting on top of it. It is the glass used with Martini's, Stinger's, and the like.
  • Collins/Highball (3 & 4) - Interchangeable. A tall, 8 to 12 oz. glass intended to be filled with ice as well as other ingredients.
  • Old-Fashioned/Rocks - A short glass commonly in 5 to 7 oz. sizes. The glass for White Russian's and Toasted Almonds.
  • Wine Glasses - Intended to hold wine, but can be used as substitutes for any of the other glasses if necessary. Most wine glasses are between 5 and 10 oz. sizes, and have thin stems to be held by.

    • Red - This glass has a wide bowl to allow the wine to "breathe."
    • White - Smaller than the Red Wine glass, this one is occasionally goblet-shaped.
    • Champagne Flute (8) A narrow glass with a tapered bowl that prevents bubbles from escaping.
  • A large glass with a wide bowl that is cupped in the hand. This one is available in sizes up to 25 oz. but that is a little much. Straight Brandy and Cognac is served in this glass.

  • Frosting a Glass

    Frosting Glasses chills the glasses, and ultimately, the drink. It is not so difficult to frost. Simply dip the glass in water and place it in a freezer for 30 minutes. Remove just before serving. This gives a professional look and feel to your drink.

    Rimming a Glass

    Rimming a glass can add an extra decorative touch and additional flavor to cocktails. Margaritas are the most common cocktails that use salt on the rim but other drinks can be enhanced with this technique as well. Salt and sugar are usually used to rim a glass but some recipes also work well with powdered sugar or cocoa. If you decide to experiment with rimming different cocktails be sure to choose an appropriate accent to the taste of the drink.

    How to rim a glass –

    Wet the outside rim of the glass with a fresh lemon or lime wedge. When rimming with sugar or cocoa use one of the liquid ingredients to moisten the rim, preferably a flavoured liqueur. For instance, for a Chocolate Martini moisten the rim with a little Kahlua.

  • Use kosher salt (never iodized salt) or super-fine sugar.
  • Fill a saucer or bowl with salt or sugar.
  • Hold the glass parallel to the table.
  • Dab the rim into the salt or sugar while slowly turning the glass so that only the outer edge is covered.
  • Shake off any excess salt or sugar over a sink or wastebasket.
  • Fill the glass with your mixed cocktail and garnish. Serve.

  • Preparing Garnishes for your Drink

    Garnishes are one of those items that demonstrate the importance of presentation in the drinks that you pour. Garnishes very rarely add any flavor to the drinks; they are merely there for appearance, like parsley on a dinner plate. Cutting these is not a major science, only a skill that needs to be taught once.

    There are three types of garnishes common to many mixed drinks: Wheels, Slices, and Wedges.

    We also use olives, cocktail onions, maraschino cherries and celery stalks, but their use is often restricted to a few drinks only and no prep work is required. Whatever the type, garnishes should be kept chilled in a covered container until ready to serve.

    Fruit Wheels- Fruit Wheels are the easiest of the garnishes to prepare. These are cut from oranges most often, but lime and lemon wheels are possible.


  • Place the fruit sideways. Slice the ends. (Where the stem and bud should be). Now slice the fruit in 1/8" sections, remove the seeds, if any.
  • Make a small slit from the centre of the wheel to the outside, so that it can fit over the rim of a glass. Refrigerate it to chill.

  • Slices- Slices are merely fruit wheels cut in half. Lime slices are most common, followed by orange slices.

  • Remove the ends of the fruit. Cut the fruit in half, the long way. Slice into 1/8" thick "half moons." Add a small slit for the rim of the glass. Chill it now.

  • Wedges- Wedges are only slightly more difficult to prepare than the wheels. Lemons are the most common wedged fruit, followed by limes.

  • Slice the fruit in half the long way. Halve the Halves once again, producing Quarters. Freeze it.

  • Pre-Mixing Simple Syrups and Sour Mixes

    Many drinks call for an ingredient known as "Simple Syrup." Others list "Sour Mix" as part of the listing. So what are these concoctions? Well, they may be small things but are often important.

    Simple Syrup - Making of "Simple Syrup” is not difficult. It is merely a concentrated mixture of syrup and water.

    To make Simple Syrup:

  • Bring 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) of water to a nice boil.
  • Slowly stir in half a pound of superfine sugar, stir until it is completely dissolved.
  • You now have a mixture known as Simple Syrup. Allow it to cool and then pour it into a sealable bottle. It should stay fresh for about 2 weeks, so make more when necessary.

  • Sour Mix- Unlike Simple Syrup, this mixture is a bit complex. Sour Mix contains lemon juice, egg white, and some sugar as well. It is added to Sours and many Highballs in place of lemon juice, and to add a bit of froth. Here's a good recipe for it.

    You will need:

  • 8 oz. lemon juice (roughly 4 lemons worth)
  • 2 tbsp. Superfine Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Egg White

  • Instructions:

  • Blend Lemon Juice and Sugar with a spoon until all of the sugar is dissolved.
  • Slowly stir in the Egg White. If you stir too quickly, the egg white will turn to foam, and you don't want that.
  • Pour into a bottle, and keep refrigerated. This will last about a week, so plan accordingly.


  • Highballs

    The drinks known as "Fillers" make up about 70% of the World's Cocktail Recipes. Some of the drinks that fall into this category are the Gin and Tonic, the Screwdriver, and the Rum and Coke. Generally speaking, highballs are drinks that include liquor and mixers that are poured directly into a glass of the same name, usually over ice. No outside shaking or stirring is required. This is how to make a basic highball.

  • Fill a Highball glass halfway with ice.
  • Pour 1 Jigger (1 1/2 oz., a three count) Liquor over the ice.
  • Fill the remainder of the glass with mixer(s).
  • Stir, if the mixer is non-carbonated. (Stirring sodas makes them go flat)
  • Garnish and serve.

  • How to Pour and Measure Booze

    An effective way to pour requires a Speed Pourer, among other things. To pour, grab the neck straight on, like you were shaking hands with it. Lift the bottle, and invert the ends so that the bottle is completely vertical and your elbow is raised slightly.

    "Jigger Method," is the easiest for the beginner to achieve, but is somewhat slow. The liquid is poured into a Double Jigger, or some other form of measuring device, and then dispensed into the glass or shaker. This makes it a precise measure. By partially filling the jigger and dumping it in a glass you can make it appear that you are serving a full jigger as well as an additional splash.

    "Speed Pour” is when you can pour directly into your container of choice. As soon as the stream starts flowing, begin a "one-thousand-and-one" count. Count one second for each 1/2 oz. that is going into the drink. A 1 1/2 oz. pour would be three seconds, a 3 oz pour would be six, and so on.

    Popular Reads

    Personal Tools of the Bartender or Barstock
    Tools of the Trade- The Barware and Assorted Glassware
    Preparing Garnishes
    Pre-Mixing Simple Syrups and Sour Mixes
    How to Pour and Measure Booze
    Stirred Cocktails
    Shaken Cocktails



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