The Pour

Here’s one of my biggest pet peeves from the initiated barkeep – the pour. Ask most bartenders in clubbish type of hotspots how much they pour in a shot/drink and they’ll tell you “…a four-count” or something to that affect. It’s not entirely their fault because that’s what they were taught. However, anyone who is remotely interested in continually bettering themselves and their respective crafts is always learning – I included. I don’t purport to know everything – no oneknows everything.

Ask that same person again how many ounces that four-count translates to and you’ll get the deer-in-headlights lobotomized stare into never-never-land. If you’ve read my Training posts, you’ll notethat this is because most bartenders have zero formal training. Nor have they bothered to open a book (other than that horrific Mr. Boston garbage) in an effort to get a bit more edumacted since memorizing a few simple and popular drinks.

For the record, the “standard”pour of 80 proof spirits is 1.5oz although you’ll find many, many barsoverpouring to something like 2oz or even 2.5oz especially in the inner Citywhere drinks get relatively pricey. Back to that “four-count.” It’s a decent way to measure that 1.5oz butit can vary based on (1) how full/empty your bottle is (2) the type and qualityof your pourers (3) hiccups and (4) the random barkeep’s idea of “oneone-thousand.”

So, let’s say (and this is notunusual) a business group of your customers orders 14 WooWoo shots. The typicalbuffoonish move I’ve seen repeatedly either wastes a massive amount of alcoholresulting in ridiculous lost revenue or worse (yes worse) shorts thecustomer. In this second scenario, manyn00bs will refill a pitcher or glass or whatever bucket they used to mix theshooters right in front of the customer, completely guestimating how much they’repouring! Yikes.

Now ideally, if you’re aware andexperienced with the 1.5oz pour, you will grab a bottle of vodka in one hand,Peach Schnapps in the other, and pour “twenty eight” – 7 times 1.5oz from eachbottle (if there’s no other mixer) resulting in 28oz. As mentioned above, we pour big. You must account for ice meltage as theseparticular shots will be chilled. Oftenthat accounts for 20 – 25% volume. Keepthat in mind with respect to the glasses you’ll be serving. For shots, I’ll pour far less juice than Iwould for the high-ball version of the same drink. So for the WooWoo example, I’d likely pour about 25oz or so, a couple of shotsof cranberry juice and stir.

I can make 30 shots of multipleingredients at this point, line up 30 glasses in the bar trough, pour them alland get every single one exactly filledwhere they should be every single time. Speaking of multiple shots, this tip isreally important… Never pour thefirst glass to the mark then go on down the line for anything other than liquorstraight out of the bottle. The reasonis that your shots will be watered down linearly as you progress to the pointthat the last one is mostly water – not fair to the poor sap who gets it. Personally, I will pour half the shot in thefirst glass continually going down the line then work my way back completingthe other half of the pour and finish with the first glass. This way, they’re all even strength.

Martinis. I’ll devote an entire article to them asthere is much to speak of and correct. But as far as the pour perspective, your typical vodka or gin Martinicontains 3oz of liquor (yes an 8-count) for the most part. Mix it in a glass mixer (pint glass) before you add ice and visualize what3oz looks like with no glass markers/graduations. You’ll eventually be able to pour the exactamount visually without counting. Thiswill help you tremendously with speed and precision and taste when you can pumpout 2 or 3 at a time from one shaker set.
Your mixing glass btw, aka 16oz glass or Pint Glass, is an quintessential bartending tool, once which new untrained bartenders unfortunately do not utilize properly if at all. For some reason, lots of folks seem to enjoy mixing drinks in high-ball glasses and cobbling together small/large metal shakers – habit passed down I guess but this baffles me and is otherwise unimpressive from the customer’s point of view. You will never see this happening in a high-end or old school bar. Furthermore, in the vast majority of busy/trendy bars, barkeeps will usually pour their liquor into one of those metal shakers where the pour can’t be visualized.

Take a look below and try to get used to the measurements – kind of like a large string instrument player (with no marked frets) magically hits the right notes every time. From right to left, you have a single shot, double shot, and quadruple shot – 1.5oz, 3oz and 6oz respectively. Also keep in mind that some bars are generous and others overpour intentionally. Regardless you get the idea.


 

 

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