My personal drink studies began in the bar and I’ve spent many years studying and developing drinks in the way that a bartender or mixologist does and this follows through to every drink I make and recommend. This may be a different approach than you will find from many other writers whose websites specialize in non-alcoholic drinks and I have a very good reason for doing things the way I do… it works better.
Here’s my philosophy… Bartenders have been creating terrific drinks for over a century and they have everything figured out. Even though this website is dedicated specifically to non-alcoholic drinks, there is no reason why we cannot take knowledge from the bar and bring it into our kitchens. We all deserve a great drink and it just so happens that the crafty individuals behind the bar have perfected everything that we need to know.
For that reason, you will notice that my recipes are written with techniques used by bartenders everyday – shaking, stirring, straining, muddling, and all the other fun stuff – and that I recommend the use of bar tools and link to a number of the thousands of articles I have written on About.com over the years.
If you are opposed to alcohol, I hope that this does not offend you and I would hope that you can see that the bar is useful (if for nothing else in your personal life) for improving every drink that you make.
Things we can learn from the bar:
- Ice can take any cold drink to a new level, not only in the chilling factor, but also in the consistency. If you have a drink filled with fruit juice, a little shaking with ice will add an effervescence that you cannot achieve by just pouring it over ice into the glass.
- We are mixing drinks here… same concept, just skipping the booze. There is no other difference than that.
- Shaking and muddling are fun (and a great release of any frustration you may be feeling).
- “You get what you pay for.” This applies to food and drink and there is a big difference between fresh and top-shelf in every aspect of the consumption of either.
- Many of the DIY mixers used in the bar are not only easy to make, but can be used to enhance a variety of drinks.
- There are certain aspects of the bar that can add style to any drink and occasion. Think of the cocktail glass as an example. It makes everyone who holds it feel a little more special and it does not have to be reserved for the myriad of martinis it often carries.
You will find the following tools useful in creating the best drinks and a number of them are useful in the kitchen for a variety of other purposes.
- Cocktail shaker (create more effervescent, lighter drinks)
- Muddler (mash the juice and essence from fresh produce)
- Jigger (measure ounces and increments perfectly)
- Strainer (keep the chunks out)
- Bar spoon (long handle, perfect for stirring)
- Blender (everyone loves a smoothie!)
- Juicer (fresh is always best)
- Bottle opener (handy for boutique sodas that are not twist offs)
- Bar towel (some of the most absorbent towels you will find)
Of course, I have a detailed description and more information about all of these tools and more on About.com: Essential Bar Tools.