10 Steps to Improve Your Bartending Skills

  • Kathryn Maier
JULY 12, 2016

It could be argued that the great cocktail renaissance of the past decade has come in two distinct waves. The first was centered in Manhattan, with the opening of bars like Milk & Honey, Death & Co, and PDT, among others—places where mustachioed and suspender-clad bar folk (“mixologists,” as they called themselves back then) took both their cocktails and themselves very seriously. The drinks, while infinitely improving on what had come before, were often overwrought and the staff frequently condescending. Let’s be honest: These bars were not—are not—much fun to drink in.

But during the second wave, as cocktail-focused bars migrated outward from their East Village epicenter, many adopted a more relaxed vibe; it’s as though bartenders remembered that drinking is supposed to be fun. Brooklyn became the new go-to, in part because that’s where many bartenders staffing the Manhattan bars resided and they wanted a place to get a decent drink close to home. In the meantime, the borough became a worldwide brand, considered the epitome of coolness. It’s now a dining and drinking destination and one of the best places in the country to find innovative cocktails. “While mixology did come to Brooklyn, the attitude didn’t follow suit,” writes cocktail expert Carey Jones in the introduction to her new book, Brooklyn Bartender: A Modern Guide to Cocktails and Spirits. “While accepting all the advancements in the cocktail world, many barfolk crossing the bridge sought to create a different kind of establishment—with the comfort and camaraderie and, frankly, fun of a less formal bar, but with modern, well-crafted drinks.” 

As the book’s title would indicate, it’s these bars, less formal and more fun, which Jones has chosen to spotlight in her book. She’s selected 25 of the best to profile, some gorgeous tributes to the Belle Epoque era, some little more than elevated dives. Bartenders from those and 20 additional bars contributed 300 cocktail recipes, organized by base spirit and forming the body of the book. The recipes given are exactly those used in the bars, authentic yet accessible—not to mention delicious. Woven in amongst the drink specs are the bar profiles, as well as a plethora of useful tips for at-home cocktail making, from equipping your home bar to making your own syrups. It’s truly an educating and entertaining read for any level of drinker.  

Here, excerpted from the book, are Jones’s tips for 10 ways to instantly improve your cocktails. (hachettebookgroup.com)

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