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Showing Some Flair at the Barstylez World Final

Showing Some Flair at the Barstylez World Final

Barstylez, a bartending school in Singapore, held its “World Bartending Championship” about a month ago. What are they judging, you ask? Who makes the best Old Fashioned or invented the tastiest new cocktail this year? Not quite.

Check out champion Luca Valentin, from Romania. He may look like he’s more of a juggler than a bartender, but it’s actually a whole style called “flair bartending” (you can find lots of how-tos on Youtube.) Any bartender knows that being a good bartender is as much about your personality and presentation as it is about mixing good drinks. These guys just take that a step further.

If most of us tried this we’d just end up with a lot of broken bottles and impatient customers—but there’s no denying it’s an impressive trick that probably gets a lot of tips if you use it with some restraint. Is there anything from Valentin’s routine you’d consider toning down and using yourself? How do you try to keep your presentation fresh and fun?

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How Much Do Bartenders Make?

How Much Do Bartenders Make?

Lots of people get into bartending because they hear a lot about star bartenders making some serious bank—you may have even heard stories about bartenders pulling six-figure incomes. Some people do make that kind of money, but if you feel a little skeptical about that figure, you’re partly right. Most people don’t make that much bartending–but you can make some very solid money, and more importantly, you can take action yourself to make more. So how much do bartenders usually make?

Median hourly income:  $8.30/hour

Median hourly tips: $15/hour

Source: https://money.cnn.com/gallery/pf/2012/12/04/jobs-tips/4.html

First of all, it’s hard to say exactly. There isn’t much data out there about exactly how much bartenders make because most of their income is in tips—which should be reported to the government but sometimes, ahem, aren’t. The internet makes it pretty easy to gather informal information from bartenders on the ground, though.

And based on that, the answer is, it varies a lot. Most of your income will be in tips, and how much you make each night depends on three main factors: how many drinks you serve, how expensive they are, and how much your customers can or want to give. All those things are higher in places with a higher cost of living—so if you’re in the south or the middle of the country.

According to a study by TippingResearch.com which interviewed 1,000 service workers.ay men and couples are the best tippers! The worst? Foreigners and teenagers. This data was collected through the responses of over 1,000 service workers!   Here are the best and worst tippers:

Expect $30,000-$70,000 Per Year Including Tips

A typical salary at a decent bar will be in the neighborhood of $30,000 per year working full-time, the coasts will take you up the $45,000 or so, and cities will usually be higher than towns.

The highest salaries are around $70,000, but yes, some folks make $100,000.

No matter where in the country you are, where you fall in that $30,000-$70,000 range is going to depend a lot on the kind of bar you’re at.

Sports bars, for instance, will usually have pretty low prices, but get tons of traffic when there’s a big game on. Upscale restaurants will make you lots of tips per drink but get less traffic, and campus bars will get high traffic on Friday and Saturday night but the customers will tend to tip less. Hotels and country clubs make up for low traffic by offering their bartenders better hourly wages and benefits for their specialized attention to each customer. Basically, start out wherever you can get a job, and then look for somewhere that’s either high-volume or high-cost as you get better at your job and move up.


Those people making six figures are working in very particular kinds of places. High-end resorts, cocktail bars in places like Manhattan and San Francisco, exclusive nightclubs, and so on, are where you can pull in $1,000 in tips per night—places where the ultra-rich congregate. Of course, competition for those jobs is stiff, but you can work your way up to them.

What do you do to get those jobs? The same things you do to make more tips anywhere you work: upselling where you can (“You like bourbon, don’t you? Want to try our new bourbon cocktail?”), serving promptly, being friendly and personable, and making your customers feel special and valued. Remember their names, their favorite drinks, ask about their lives, tell them a joke: all customers are going to tip you better, and push your salary up, when they feel like you’re providing them the valuable service of a friendly face and attentive ear.

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State-by-State Requirements to Be a Bartender in New England

State-by-State Requirements to Be a Bartender in New England

new england

Bar owners like to stay in business, and staying in business means making sure you’re following local liquor laws and protecting yourself from being sued if someone has an accident after drinking at your business. Some states require, and other states recommend, certifications for anyone who serves alcohol to help with that. The courses usually take 2-6 hours to do, and go over things like how to tell when someone’s intoxicated, how and when to cut someone off, and how to diffuse tense situations. Here’s a breakdown of what laws apply where in New England, and what certifications you can get to comply with them and get serving.


Connecticut state flag
Connecticut state flag

Connecticut is pretty easy—they don’t have any legally required server training. Your employer may still want you to get some kind of training for their insurance, though. Talk to potential employers about what course they want you to have, or go with a widely recognized option like T.I.P.S. or ServSafe.


Maine state flag
Maine state flag

You’re required to have a certification to tend bar in Maine, but they’re pretty flexible about where you get it from. You can take a look at a list of accredited courses here—it includes commonly available courses like T.I.P.S. and ServeSafe. While it does accept a lot of certifications, Maine may not accept the online versions of them, so it’s worth looking up an upcoming in-person training in your area.


Massachusetts state flag
Massachusetts state flag

Massachusetts doesn’t require you to have a certification, but does require your employer to have liability insurance… which usually requires you to have a certification. What programs will work depends on your employer’s insurance, but some of the most commonly accepted are T.I.P.S., ServSafe, and T.A.M. All of them can be taken online or in a class—you can look up upcoming class times and locations on their websites.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire state flag
New Hampshire state flag

Servers don’t need any special training in New Hampshire (owners and managers do, though—they need to take a state-run certification called MTS.) It’s still possible that a bar owner may want you to take a course for their insurance, but like in Massachusetts, what they accept will depend on the insurance.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island state flag
Rhode Island state flag

Rhode Island requires servers to have a certification, and like Maine, it accepts a lot of widely available courses. The bad news is their website listing what courses are approved it currently being updated, so there’s no published list of what certifications they’ll accept. T.I.P.S., ServSafe, S.M.A.R.T., and A.S.A.P. have all been accepted in the past, though, so you should be safe with one of them.


Vermont state flag
Vermont state flag

Vermont is the strictest state in New England as far as certification—you need to take a special course offered by the state. You can take it for free online, for $25 as a seminar, or your employer may offer it in-house. You can register for it through Vermont’s liquor control board website.

You may notice when you look at these that (except for Vermont) T.I.P.S. will either meet the state requirement or meet most bar owners’ insurance needs. You can usually take it after you start working somewhere, but it doesn’t hurt to get it ahead of time, either. Local Bartending offers T.I.P.S. training online or in a class to help you get started on your bartending career—legally, responsibly, and safely.

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How to Become a Bartender

How to Become a Bartender


So you want to become a bartender? Maybe you’ve heard about the solid money you can make or maybe you’re just passionate about liquor, but either way you’re next step is landing that first job. Breaking into the industry isn’t always easy, but it’s absolutely doable with a little knowledge and patience. Here’s a run-down of the things you’ll need to do to become a bartender.

  1. Know what it takes. If you like making cocktails at home, bartending may seem like an easy way to make serious money—but working in a bar takes a lot more than just cocktail mixing skills. Learn what a bartender actually does. You’ll need to be ready and able to put on the charm even when you don’t feel like it, deal calmly with drunk and disorderly customers, work odd hours, and multi-task like a beast, just to name a few.
  2. Learn the trade. Top bartending jobs are competitive, and you’ll need to know your stuff backwards and forwards. Bartending classes can be a great way to learn about both the world of liquor—from how to mix cocktails to the difference between an IPA and an APA—and about the less happy parts of bartending, like ID laws, how to tell if someone is intoxicated, and legal liabilities.
  3. Keep up to date. Don’t let your education stop with classes, though. Follow cocktail blogs, read books, talk to other bartenders, and generally keep your finger on the pulse of drink culture. It will help set you apart from the competition at those desirable bars, and help you move up from other positions faster.
  4. Get certified. Your employer, state, or city may require you to get a certification (different from a bartending course) before you can serve alcohol—the most commonly required ones are TIPS and ServeSafe. Do some research about what you need in your area. There’s usually a grace period to get the certification after you start working, but at least knowing what you need will help you seem professional and prepared in interviews.
  5. Job interview skills! Just like with any other job, practice good job interview skills as you apply places. From your employer’s perspective, your ultimate job as a bartender is to increase sales—so be professional, charming, and get a sense of the customers, specialties, and overall vibe of each place you apply. All those things will help convince them you’ll be able to get customers buying.
  6. Work your connections. It’s much, much easier to get your first job in any industry if you know someone. Don’t be afraid to let anyone you know in the restaurant or bar industry know you’re looking to get your foot in the door—even a mild personal recommendation may be the thing that sets you apart from the stack of resumes.
  7. Be willing to start small. Most bars hire from within, and that means that bartending course or not, you’re probably going to have to start small. That could mean taking a job as a bar back or server, working at a less-than-ideal place, or taking the less lucrative daytime or event gigs—whatever it is, think of it as a stepping stone as you work your way up. With some patience, hard work, and knowledge, you’ll soon move up the ladder to the bartending job of your dreams.stacked glasses

Minimum ages to bartend


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  • Bar Consulting & Staffing
    Bar Consulting & Staffing

    Bar Consulting & Staffing

    Local Bartending School knows how complicated owning a bar can be. That’s because it’s team has dozens of years in the industry. Our expertise will simplify your operations.

    We can help your company with the following:

    -Hiring proper staff/Job placement
    -Reducing insurance premiums
    -Developing company policies
    -Enforcing a “comp policy”
    -State of the art point of sale systems
    -Using the right alcohols
    -Getting your team trained and certified

    Consultation Types:

    -In-person training
    -Phone and Skype consultations

    Package training and certification discounts are offered for bar owners from 20% off.

    bar-photoBeing a bar owner can be fun and rewarding. By investing a small amount into training, you can maximize your return on investment. One consultation could make you an additional $2,000-5,000+ per month in profits. (Income disclaimer: Your income is based on how well you put our ideas into action.

    We offer package deals as well as hourly consulting. You can choose to consult with either a bar owner, or nightclub owner both with incredibly valuable experience.

    Inquire here or call us!

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    Other Drink Recipes
    Other Drink Recipes

    Other Drink Recipes


    Bloody Mary

    I’m breaking my highball rule here, but that’s okay because I don’t think of the Bloody Mary as a highball. Though nearly every cocktail manual I own lists it as such, I take a different view. A highball just means pouring a shot or so of booze and topping it off with a non-alcoholic mixer, usually from a gun or a bottle. Fine, you can make Bloody Marys that way if you’re lazy and buy a bottled mix. But a good Bloody Mary mix is prepared in-house or at home from high-quality tomato juice and whatever other juices and spices you like. For home drinking, I mix mine à la minute. I juice lemons; I dash in bitters. I go to at least as much work as I do when mixing a cocktail. So screw it, it’s a cocktail, not a highball.

    The Ultimate Fully-Loaded Bloody Mary

    About This Recipe

    YIELD: makes 1 cocktail
    ACTIVE TIME: 5 minutes
    TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes
    SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: Cocktail shaker
    THIS RECIPE APPEARS IN: The Bloody Mary: The History and Science of an Oddball ClassicThe Food Lab, Drinks Edition: The Ultimate Fully Loaded Bloody Mary


    • 1 tablespoon celery salt or (or plain kosher salt, if you prefer)
    • 1/4 lemon, cut into two wedges
    • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or less to taste)
    • Dash cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Franks)
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated horseradish (or 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish)
    • 2 ounces vodka
    • 4 ounces high-quality tomato juice
    • 1 stick celery


    Place celery salt in a shallow saucer. Rub rim of 12-ounce tumbler with 1 lemon wedge and coat wet edge with celery salt. Place lemon wedge on rim of glass. Fill glass with ice.

    Add Worcestershire, soy, black pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and horseradish to bottom of cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice and add vodka, tomato juice, and juice of remaining lemon wedge. Shake vigorously, taste for seasoning and heat, and adjust as necessary. Strain into ice-filled glass. Garnish with celery stalk and serve immediately.





    If there were no other reason to include this drink on this list, I’d still put the Manhattan here for the best reason of all: your grandmother drinks them.

    Now, I’m pretty flexible on the Old Fashioned and the Martini. Mix an OF with mezcal or rhum agricole and I’ll shake your hand; shake up an ultra-dry martini, and I’ll drink it happily. But please, no weak bourbons in my Manhattan. Give me a bourbon with a muscular rye-heavy mashbill, or just give me rye to begin with.

    Mix it sweet or mix it perfect (half sweet vermouth, half dry), but don’t bother with a dry Manhattan, seriously.

    [Photograph: Jennifer Hess]

    The classic cocktail, made with rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters.

    Manhattan Cocktail

    About This Recipe

    YIELD: makes 2 cocktails
    SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: mixing glass, cocktail strainer


    • 4 ounces rye whiskey
    • 2 ounces sweet vermouth
    • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
    • Garnish: 2 Maraschino cherries


    Pour the whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until outside of shaker is very cold to touch.

    Place a maraschino cherry in each of two chilled cocktail glasses. Dividing evenly, strain the contents of the shaker over cherries and serve immediately.


    Old Fashioned

    The origins of the word “cocktail” are lost to history, but the first definition we find in print comes from an 1806 newspaper from upstate New York. A cocktail is called “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters…” Over the course of the 19th century, the cocktail picked up a number of additions and refinements: liqueurs, fortified wines, various bits of garnish, et cetera. Eventually, some drinkers came to prefer a simpler form of cocktail, the type their grandfathers might have enjoyed, and so they’d ask the bartender to make them an “old-fashioned” cocktail, of booze, sugar muddled into water to form a syrup, and bitters.

    If you want to experience the ur-cocktail, or if you just enjoy deliciousness, the Old Fashioned is the drink for you.

    Note that the original definition called for spirits of any kind. You can make a tasty Old Fashioned from whiskey, of course, but also from tequila, mezcal, brandy, rum, genever, and to a lesser extent, aquavit or gin. I have even been desperate enough to attempt a vodka old fashioned, but I can’t say I enjoyed it. Stick with more robustly flavored spirits.

    Fixing a cocktail for your dad on Father’s Day can be tough. If your father is the type to enjoy the occasional glass, chances are he’s been drinking the same bourbon or scotch for years because, well, that’s what he likes and always has. But this is supposed to be a special day, a time when you break with your habits but still stay inside your respective comfort zones. So try something different; just remember, when you’re preparing a drink for your father, there’s one simple rule to follow: don’t screw it up.

    This one’s hard to screw up. The Old Fashioned is one of the most venerable of cocktails, predating not only the motor car but the presidency of Abe Lincoln. Properly made, it’s strong, but not too much, and sweet, but not too much; most important, it’s dead simple to make, and absolutely delicious.

    There’s too much orthodoxy thrown about with cocktails, so instead of indicating a “right” or “wrong” way of making this, I’ll simply say this is the traditional way from the Old Fashioned’s youth. It differs from most Old Fashioneds you’ll find today in its absence of fruit and soda water; the former makes the drink sweeter than is strictly necessary, and the latter makes it weaker. If you use a decent whiskey—which you should—you won’t need the additional sweetness or the distracting flavors from the fruit; and if you add a couple of good-size chunks of ice to the glass, the time you spend chatting with your dad over the drink will take care of the additional dilution.

    My kids are still at the chocolate milk and root beer stage, but in another couple of decades I look forward to sitting down with them on a Sunday in June, and having them take care of what I want (for a change). When they do, if they bring out one of these, I’ll know I did at least a few things right.

    About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.

    Old Fashioned

    About This Recipe

    YIELD: makes 1 cocktail


    • 2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey (use something good, but not over-the-top)
    • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar (or 1 sugar cube)
    • 2-3 dashes of bitters; Angostura is traditional and works well; Fee Brothers’ Whiskey Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned Bitters are better


    Place the sugar in an Old Fashioned glass and douse with the bitters; add a few drops of water, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the whiskey and give a few good stirs to further dissolve the sugar, then add a couple of large ice cubes. Stir a few times to chill; garnish, if you like, with a slice of orange and a cherry, though it’s perfectly fine to skip this step. If you’re accustomed to topping the drink with soda, at least give it a chance once without; your father brought you up to be open-minded.



    I would love to say that everyone remembers their first margarita, but we all know that’s not true. I think it’s even possible that no one remembers their first margarita.

    I admit, sometimes when I’m out to dinner at a Mexican or Tex-Mex place and I want a margarita, I don’t always care whether it’s made with fresh ingrdients or from pre-mix. But I will never buy pre-mix for my home bar, and neither should you. The margarita is a simple recipe, just three ingredients, so there’s no excuse for pre-mix. Get a good tequila (100% agave), a decent triple sec, and fresh limes, and you’re almost guaranteed a great drink.

    Note: Fresh-squeezed lime and lemon juice are an absolute must for this recipe—the bottled stuff pales in comparison. To make simple syrup, measure an equal volume of granulated sugar and water into a small saucepot. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely melted. Allow to cool before using. Extra simple syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

    This recipe uses the International Bartenders Association’s ratios of tequila, cointreau, and citrus juice, which makes a pretty strong margarita. Feel free to add extra syrup or to water it down some to suit your own tastes. To make short work of your lemons and limes, read our citrus juicer review here.

    Fresh Margaritas

    About This Recipe

    YIELD: makes 10-12
    ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes
    THIS RECIPE APPEARS IN: Equipment: Citrus Juicers


    • 3/4 cup lemon juice, from 6 to 10 lemons
    • 3/4 cup lime juice, from 8 to 12 limes
    • 3 1/2 cups high quality tequila, preferably reposado
    • 2 cups Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec
    • 1/2 cup simple syrup (or more to taste)
    • 2 quarts ice cubes


    Combine all ingredients in large pitcher and stir to combine (you’ll probably need to make two batches, unless you have a very large pitcher). Serve immediately in salt-rimmed glasses filled with ice.


    Mai Tai

    My tiki-swilling friends are all saying now, “About time you got a tiki drink on here, Dietsch.” It ain’t every bar that does a Mai Tai correctly; in fact, it’s probably still relatively rare to find one that does, unfortunately. Which is all the more reason to learn how to make them at home. The hardest part is finding everything you need: two rums (preferably, though one will do, if it’s a rich-tasting dark rum), orange curaçao, and orgeat (try the one from Small Hand Foods.) Shake everything and strain it over fresh ice. (Heck, you don’t even have to do that; I’ve often just dumped the entire mixing glass into a chilled rocks glass and called it a day.)

    If you’ve ever been to a luau-themed party or exotic bar, or sipped your way through a beach vacation, chances are you’ve been served a mai tai. Unless you’re especially lucky or just happen to have a thing for tiki drinks, however, chances are even better you’ve been served a fraud.

    Spawned from the rum-soaked genius mind of Trader Vic” Bergeron, the mai tai is one of the most regal refreshments in the exotic-drink universe. Originally made with 17-year-old Jamaican rum, imported French orgeat, Dutch curaçao and fresh-squeezed lime juice, the mai tai quickly became a phenomenon; it also quickly became perverted. Hordes of Trader Vic-wannabes took wild stabs at recreating Bergeron’s long-secret recipe, and the result is what we all-too-often experience now: a sweet, murky drink filled with assorted fruit juices and syrups, with little resemblance to the original swoon-worthy concoction.

    Of course, it was probably destined to happen. In the heyday of the Polynesian palaces, owners such as Bergeron considered their recipes to be trade secrets, and ripping off or attempting to clone a competitor’s drink was a common practice. Plus, Bergeron even changed his own recipe: the mai tai became so popular that supplies of the original aged rum were depleted, so the restaurateur had to improvise the flavor by mixing two other types of rum.

    As winter lurches toward spring, it’s a good time to reach for the rum and the flowery shirt. So put on some Martin Denny, mix up a mai tai and start peering down the calendar; warmer days are up ahead.

    About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.

    Mai Tai

    About This Recipe

    YIELD: makes 1 cocktail
    SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: cocktail shaker


    • 2 ounces Jamaican rum (Appleton Extra is a good choice; for a bit more authentic flavor, substitute 1 once of Saint James 15-year Hors D’Age rum for 1 ounce of the Appleton)
    • Juice of 1 medium lime, about 1 ounce (save the shell for garnish)
    • 1/2 ounce curaçao
    • 1/4 ounce orgeat
    • 1/4 ounce rock-candy syrup (simple syrup with a drop or two of vanilla extract)
    • mint for garnish


    1. 1

    Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well for 10 seconds and strain into a double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with lime shell and a sprig of fresh mint.



    Yes! The Cosmopolitan is on this list! Why the hell not? It’s a popular drink, and so if you host parties with any regularity, someone will ask you for one. (I made so many at one party, I should have premade and bottled them.) And you know what? It’s a better drink than you think it is.

    Sidecar, Whiskey Sour, Margarita, Daiquiri. These drinks have something fundamental in common: they’re all sours. Sours are fundamental cocktails. Take a base spirit, add citrus, and polish it off with a sweetener, usually (but not always) triple sec. Tweak the balance as you will, but sours made well are always delicious.

    Sidecar: brandy, lemon juice, triple sec. Whiskey sour: Bourbon, lemon, triple.Margarita: tequila, lime, triple. Daiquiri: rum, lime, simple syrup.

    Let’s try a different base spirit: citrus vodka. To finish out the Sour Experience, add the requisite triple sec and citrus, in this case, lime. For variety, add another fruit flavor: cranberry, why not?

    The Cosmopolitan is a cultural touchstone because once upon a time, Dale DeGroff got one into the hands of Madonna at the Rainbow Room and it became the drink to be seen with. Then HBO and SJP, of course, made the drink ubiquitous and clichéd.

    Nevertheless, sours are fundamental cocktails, and the Cosmopolitan is, simply stated, the best Vodka Sour around.


    About This Recipe

    YIELD: 1 cocktail
    ACTIVE TIME: 4 minutes
    TOTAL TIME: 4 minutes
    SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: Cocktail shaker and strainer


    • Ice
    • 1 1/2 ounces citrus-flavored vodka
    • 1/2 ounce triple sec (Cointreau, preferably)
    • 1/2 ounce cranberry juice
    • 1/4 ounce lime juice (fresh, fresh, fresh; no Rose’s)
    • Orange twist, for garnish


    1. 1

    Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka, triple sec, cranberry, and lime, and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.

    18 of 26

    Mint Julep

    A few years ago, we lived in an apartment with backyard access. In addition to grilling out, smoking cigars, and enjoying cocktails on the veranda, we kept a garden. One year, the mint came in so abundantly we had mint juleps every day for a week. That was a great week.

    Time for a Drink: Mint Julep

    About This Recipe


    • 2 to 3 ounces bourbon, to taste
    • 1 teaspoon sugar, to taste, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water (or use 2 tsp. simple syrup)
    • 8 to 10 leaves fresh mint
    • Mint sprigs, for garnish
    • Crushed ice


    1. 1

    Place the sugar and water at the bottom of a julep cup or tall glass and stir until sugar is dissolved (or speed the process by using simple syrup). Add the mint leaves and gently bruise with a wooden muddler or a wooden spoon. Take care not to overwork the mint, but swab the sides of the glass with the mint’s aromatic oils. Half-fill the glass with crushed ice and add the bourbon, stirring to combine. Fill the glass with crushed ice and stir until the outside of the glass frosts. Add more crushed ice if needed to fill, and generously adorn the drink with sprigs of fresh mint. Serve with a short straw, so the fragrance of the mint bouquet will greet the drinker with each sip.

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    Mixed Drinks Training
    Mixed Drinks Training

    Mixed Drinks Training

    WELL, CALL or TOP SHELF (Upselling) 

    well drink or rail drink is an alcoholic beverage served using the lower-cost liquors stored within easy reach of the bartender in the counter ‘speed rail’ or well.  Rail drinks differ from “call” drinks in that the former is offered when a customer does not specify a particular brand of liquor when ordering a mixed drink. The terms “well drink” and “rail drink” comes from the name for a bartender’s workspace, known as either the well or the rail.  In any given establishment, the rail/well liquors available may be known as the “house pours” or “house brands”.

    The actual liquors used by a drinking establishment will vary. A bartender’s well may include at least one variety of gin, rum, whiskey, vodka, bourbon, tequila,triple sec, and vermouth.  Some establishments that cater to higher-end clientele or wish to project an aura of luxury choose premium brands to be their well liquors (thus offering a “premium well”).

    Rail/well vs. Call vs. Top-Shelf

    A rail or well drink is usually served when a customer does not specify that a particular brand of liquor be used.  For example, a customer order for a “Scotch and soda” would lead the bartender to use a rail/well Scotch whisky and would be priced as a rail drink, whereas ordering “Glenfiddich and soda” would be a call drink.

    Call liquors are known as such because the customer “calls” or requests a particular brand of liquor.   Certain expensive brand-name liquors are not considered or priced as call, but are instead known as “top-shelf” liquors, both from their placement on the shelves and from their price relative to the other liquors available.

    Drinks using the ‘Well’ liquors are the lowest priced drinks.

    Drinks using the ‘Call’ liquors are charged at a higher rate.

    Drinks using ‘Top shelf’ liquors are the highest priced drinks.

    Drinks using several liquors are charged at a higher rate.

    EACH establishment has its own price structure, but the following may give you an idea:

    Top Shelf VODKAS frequently include:   Grey Goose, Kettel On, Belvedeire

    Call VODKAS frequently include:   Stolichnaya, Finlandia, Skyy, Absolut, Smirnoff

    Top Shelf GINS frequently include:   Bombay Saphire, Tanqueray Silver

    Call GINS frequently include:   Beefeater, Bombay, Boodle, Tanqueray

    Top Shelf RUMS frequently include:   Bacardi 151,  Mount Gay

    Call RUMS frequently include:   Bacardi Superior, Captain Morgan, Meyers, Malibu

    Top Shelf TEQUILAS frequently include:   Patron,  Cuervo Reservo, Cuervo 1800

    Call TEQUILAS frequently include:   Cuervo Gold, José Cuervo, Cortez

    Top Shelf WHISKEYS frequently include:   Crown Royal, Crown Royal Special Reserve,

    Call WHISKEYS frequently include:   Seagrams,  Four Rose, Jack Daniels, Canadian Club, Canadian Mist

    Top Shelf BOURBONS frequently include:   Old Grandad, Wild Turkey, Makers Mark, Knob Creek

    Call BOURBONS frequently include:   Jim Beam

    Top Shelf SCOTCHES frequently include:   Johnnie Walker Black, Chivas Regal, Glen Fiddich

    Call SCOTCHES frequently include:   Johnnie Walker Red, Dewars, J&B, Cutty Sark

    Below are some drinks you can plan on that will likely be ordered. Unfortunately, their name doesn’t tell you the ingredients. So, over time, you need to learn them. Until that time, keep a file handy that you can refer to in an emergency.

    Alabama Slammer

    Amaretto Sour



    Bay Breeze


    Black Russian

    Bloody Mary

    Buttery Nipple


    Cuba Libre (rum & coke)


    Fuzzy Navel


    Irish Coffee


    Lemon Drop

    Long Island Ice Tea



    Malibu Bay Breeze




    Melon Ball




    Old Fashioned

    Piña Colada

    Red Headed Slut

    Rob Roy


    Sea Breeze

    Seven & Seven

    Strawberry Daquiri

    Tequila Sunrise

    Tom Collins

    Whiskey Sour

    White Russian



    4 parts Gin

    1 part Dry Vermouth (green bottle)

    Garnish: olives or lemon twist


    6 parts Vodka

    1 part Dry Vermouth (green bottle)

    Garnish: olives or lemon twist


    5 parts Gin

    1 part Dry Vermouth (green bottle)

    1 part Sweet Vermouth (red bottle)

    Garnish: olives or lemon twist

    GIBSON (Gin Martini w onion garnish)

    4 parts Gin

    1 part Dry Vermouth (green bottle)

    Garnish: cocktail onions on a toothpick


    6 parts Vodka

    1 part Dry Vermouth (green bottle)

    1 part olive brine

    Garnish: olives

    COSMOPOLITAN (Vodka-Cranberry Martini)

    2 parts Vodka

    1 part Triple Sec

    1 Part Cranberry Juice

    Wedge of lime

    APPLETINI (Apple Martini)

    1 parts Vodka (Absolut Citron)

    1 part Apple Schnapps (DeKuyper Sour Apple Pucker)

    1 part Apple Juice (optional)

    LEMON DROP (Lemon Martini)

    3 parts Vodka (Citron)

    2 parts sweet & sour mix

    1 part lime juice

    Lemon peel


    3 parts Godiva chocolate liqueur

    1 part Creme de Cocoa

    Garnish: chocolate shavings


    5 parts Whiskey

    1 part Sweet Vermouth (red bottle)

    Garnish: cherry


    5 parts Scotch

    1 part Sweet Vermouth (red bottle)

    Garnish: cherry


    Generally, when a guest orders a ‘Martini ,’ they are asking for a Gin Martini.

    Generally, a guest who wants a Vodka Martini will specifically say ‘Vodka Martini.’

    Martini drinkers tend to be VERY specific about how they like their drink.

    Sometimes the guest will ask for a specific gin or a specific vodka, but not always.

    And usually if they want their martini to be ‘dry’ or ‘very dry,’ they will specify that as well.

    Nevertheless ALWAYS clarify by ASKING the following questions:

    1     Would that be a Gin Martini or a Vodka Martini?

    2     Would you prefer a specific brand of gin or vodka?

    (This is called ‘upselling.’  The owner or manager likes to see his bartenders ‘upsell.’)

    2     Do you want that ‘up’ or ‘on the rocks?’

    3     Would you prefer olives or a lemon twist?

    Rocks glasses tend to be the same size wherever you go,

    but ‘up’ Martini glasses come in several sizes. Because you will want your Martinis to nearly fill the glass,

    the count for your pour needs to be adjusted for the specific glass size you are using.

    If the guest asks for a Martini on the Rocks:

    1     Fill a ‘rocks’ glass with ice.

    2     Pour your Vodka or your Gin.

    3     Pour your Dry Vermouth (green bottle).

    4     Stir the Martini.

    5     EITHER add olives (2 or 3 on a toothpick (or plastic sword) if you have these).

    OR ‘rim’ the glass with the outside of your lemon twist and drop the twist in the martini.

    MOST guests order and expect a Straight Up Martini in a martini glass.

    1     Fill Martini glass with ice to chill it while mixing the Martini.

    2     Add ice to your shaker.

    3     Pour your gin or vodka.

    4     Pour your Dry Vermouth (green bottle).

    5     Cover your shaker with a pub glass and shake gently.

    6     Empty ice from your now chilled martini glass.

    7     Using your strainer, pour martini into your chilled martini glass.

    8     EITHER add olives (2 or 3 on a toothpick (or plastic sword) if you have these).

    OR ‘rim’ the glass with the outside of your lemon twist and drop the twist in the martini.

    VODKA – CRANBERRY Cocktails

    Unfortunately for new bartenders, now there are HUNDREDS of vodka-cranberry cocktails because there are at least 25 new ‘flavored’ vodkas and each have new names.  Bars now carry a variety of these new flavored vodkas. But different bars will carry a different set of flavored vodkas because they tend to work with specific brands or distributors.   So, nowadays, different bars will sell certain cocktails and not others.  So you’ll find that you have to adapt to that particular bar’s repertoire of vodka-cranberry cocktails.  You may Google ‘Vodka-Cranberry cocktail recipes’ to get an idea of the diversity of recipes that bartenders need to be aware of.

    That being said, there are a few classic vodka-cranberry cocktails (using traditional un-flavored vodka) that are sold at every reputable bar.  Some of these are:

    CAPE COD (or Cape Codder), or just Vodka Cranberry

    1 1/2 oz Vodka PLUS Cranberry Juice


    1 1/2 oz Vodka PLUS Cranberry Juice Plus Orange Juice


    1 1/2 oz Vodka PLUS Cranberry Juice PLUS Grapefruit Juice


    1 1/2 oz Vodka PLUS Cranberry Juice PLUS Pineapple Juice


    1     Using a tall glass or high ball glass if possible, fill glass with ice.

    2     Add Vodka.

    3     Fill glass with the specified fruit juice(s).

    4     EITHER Stir with long cocktail spoon.

    OR pour contents in a shaker to mix thoroughly.

    5     Garnish with a lime wedge or a lime wheel.

    TIP:  Cocktails utilizing thicker ‘mixers’ (citrus fruit juices, Bloody Mary mix, and especially cream drinks) are best shaken.  Cranberry juice, alone, is not really a thick ‘mixer.’ So stirring will suffice.  If your “mixer” is carbonated ALWAYS just stir with a cocktail spoon.

    The Cosmopolitan, while it is a Vodka-Cranberry cocktail, will be covered under MARTINIS.

    Sex on the Beach, while it is a Vodka-Cranberry cocktail, will be covered under SHOOTERS.



    Vodka Tonic

    Bloody Mary

    Gin Tonic

    Singapore Sling


    Rum Coke (Cuba Libre)

    MOST Rum drinks in general





    7 & 7

    Corona beer


    Sweet Drinks in general

    Whiskey Sour

    Tom Collins



    Old Fashioned


    Lemon Drop


    Long Island Ice Tea


    Wheat Beers








    Coffee Drinks



    Mint Julips

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