Even as a beginner, aspiring home bartenders need some basic tools to mix cocktails and few are more basic than a bar spoon. Thankfully they aren’t complicated or expensive and combined with several other items, bar spoons are an important part of every bar. But before you run off to buy a couple for your barware collection, let’s take a quick look at a few bar spoon basics.
What’s a Bar Spoon?
A bar spoon is a specialized spoon designed to simplify the mixing process when assembling a cocktail. Generally drinks are mixed either by shaking or stirring; when stirring is necessary, a specialized bartender’s spoon makes the process much easier. Fabricated from stainless steel, these tools are durable, easy to clean and won’t affect drink flavors like other tools might.
The Many Uses of a Bar Spoon
Most people understand the basic function of a spoon, but when mixing drinks bar spoons are used in many different ways. Since some of those uses might be foreign to an aspiring mixologist, let’s look at a few:
- Cocktail Stirring – Some cocktails need to be stirred not shaken, and the bar spoon is the perfect tool. Whether using a cocktail shaker or tall glass, the long handled spoon will make quick work of mixing any cocktail.
- Measuring Ingredients – One bar spoon is more or less equivalent to one teaspoon and bartenders will use it to measure small quantities.
- Layering Drinks – Mixologists interested in displaying an artistic flair use the flat bowl of the bar spoon to layer different spirits in one drink. Often used for shots like a B-52 or an Angel’s Kiss, the appearance is definitely striking.
- Garnishing Drinks – As one of the one of the most useful bar tools, the spoon is often called upon to remove extra pulp from fruit garnishes.
- Muddling – Although the use of a specialize Muddler is ideal, European bar spoons have a “hammer” at the end of the handle that can be used to lightly muddle fruit and herbs in a pinch.
As anyone can see the uses for a bartenders spoon can go beyond the basics, so when selecting a few for your collection, it’s helpful to think about the types of drinks you’ll be preparing and select tools that’ll make mixing drinks easier.
Three Types of Bar Spoons
Although the basic uses of a bartender’s spoon remain the same, regional differences in drink preparation have generated several different types. So when selecting your preferred option, consider these three options:
Inexpensive and easy to find at any bar supply store, the American bar spoon can be identified by its simple design, a twisted handle and the red plastic cap placed on the end. It functions and it’s cheap. Cost < $5
A sturdier implement with a bit more style, this spoon typically has a hammer or disk placed on the end. Granted, the use of this “extra” is up for debate but many bartenders use them for everything from muddling to layering liquors. Cost: $5 – $25
A sturdier option with a more elongated design, this bar spoon has a slimmer profile and in my opinion just looks cool. The end of handle can be finished in several different ways including a teardrop design or a fork for grabbing olives or other garnishes. Cost: > $15
Video: Bar Spoon Basics & Mixing Drinks
The concept of mixing a drink is pretty easy to wrap your head around, but in this video bartender Adam Zimmerman from Laurelhurst Market reviews the different kinds of bars spoons and offers some guidance on mixing cocktails. Essentially the goal is to chill the drink while minimizing dilution…
Cocktail Stirring Tips
Once you’ve identified which type of spoons will best suit your cocktail mixing needs, there are a few techniques that you’ll want to apply to produce the best drink possible. Here are some techniques that you may find helpful:
Chill Your Mixing Container – No matter if you use a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, chill it before mixing cocktails to minimize dilution and produce the best result.
Start with the Spoon in the Mixing Container – When possible, place the spoon in the mixing container to minimize unnecessary jostling or awkward movement.
Stir Gently – Move the bar spoon around the perimeter of the mixing container to minimize creating ice chips which will dilute the drink.
The Quieter the Better – Minimize noise to look like an old pro.
Incredibly simple and functional, the bar spoon is a necessary piece of equipment for every bar. But since cocktail preferences vary, use these basics to find the right bar spoon for your home bar.