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Cracking the Bar Code: The Top Bartender 14 Secrets
  • April 25, 2013 : 07:04
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As cocktail king Dale DeGroff, pioneering bartender at New York City’s Rainbow Room and author of The Craft of the Cocktail, has said, “the oversize martini glass has ruined many an evening.” For more reasonable portion sizes and the option to try more than one kind of cocktail without getting soused, buy a set of 8.25-ounce Libbey Retro coupes (pictured, $44 for a set of 12, amazon.com).

In the bartending boom a new cocktail is born every minute (and usually involves impossible-to-find ingredients such as house-made sea-buckthorn tincture). But few can top the classics collected in Jerry Thomas’s 1887 Bar-Tenders Guide. Handsome reprints are available for about $10.

Dev Johnson, head bartender at New York speakeasy Employees Only, suggests you try a flip, a classic cocktail made delightfully frothy with nothing more fussy than an egg white. Herewith, the clover club...blowing minds since 1911.

2 ounces gin
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
½ ounce raspberry syrup or grenadine
½ ounce simple syrup
1 egg white, very fresh

Combine ingredients and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds and strain into a martini glass. To give this drink some Playboy flair, cut a Rabbit Head stencil from a margarine lid and spritz Angostura bitters on top with a vermouth atomizer.


While the state of the American cocktail is better than ever, you’d think you need an advanced degree in mixology to decipher the drinks menus at some of the more pretentious lounges. You know, places where olives are "spherified," eyedroppers are used and the bartenders take 15 minutes to mix your drink. We’re going to let you in on a little secret: The old ways are the best ways and are easy enough for you to be your own bartender. To give you the essential tips and tools that are the foundation of a good drink (principles that have remained relatively unchanged since the 19th century) we checked in with some of our favorite bartenders from around the country, people who know how to maximize a drink with minimal fuss.



Bitters are one of the easiest cheats a bartender can use to add complexity to a drink. Mix classic Angostura with gin to make a pink gin, one of the simplest traditional cocktails around. And stock up on modern versions such as Regans' No. 6 orange bitters to add citrus essence without sweetness or acid, and Bittermens mole-flavored bitters for a chocolaty spin on a margarita.

Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters, $25, amazon.com


No red dye no. 5 was used in the making of the real-deal Italian maraschino cherries from Luxardo. The intense syrup is an ingredient in its own right. Stir into a tom collins for subtle sweetness.

Luxardo cherries, $17, kegworks.com

James Bond was wrong; the rules of cocktail making are thus: Shake cocktails that include fruit juice (shaking blends the juice and alcohol better). Stir cocktails that are simply spirits over ice (e.g., a martini or a manhattan). For the latter category, this mixing glass from Japan is just the right size. Thirty revolutions with a stirrer will blend and chill all the ingredients.

Yarai mixing glass, $39, cocktailkingdom.com

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read more: lifestyle, alcohol, issue may 2013

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