posted by on Sep 21

As any good bartender knows, choosing the correct glass is just as important as the alcohol that goes into it. In today’s cocktail society, glassware can make or break a drinking or dining experience.

There is a multitude of glassware and glassware manufacturers.  Some of the prices for these glasses can get quite expensive.  In building your home bar, you have many options to choose from.

Most are accustomed to using thick rimmed or “rolled rim” glasses.  Often these are choosen  because they are less likely to break. One argument against a rolled rim glass is that it can direct the drink onto the sides of the tongue where the true essence of your drink can not be appreciated. 

Other glasses are shaped to allow the aromas to become concentrated so that the drinker is able to appreciate the true character of the particular drink.  As a bartender, becoming familiar with which glass belongs to what drink is beneficiary to both you and the customer. They receive a higher caliber drink, which in turn reflects back on your bartending skills.

Glasses, like people, have personalities – swank, elegant, sexy and delicate and they are nearly as important as their contents. While a glass’s shape has the ability to influence the actual taste of a drink, its style can subconsciously enhance the experience, thus making form and function equally important.

There is some difference between the barware used in a public bar verses the cocktail glasses you might use at home. Public bars go through lots of stemware due to the high volume there is more glass breakage. So typically a public bar will carry thicker less expensive drinkware that will hold up and is easily replaced. At home however breaking cocktail glasses should be a rarity. So you can use thinner more expensive glassware for the home.

A thinner piece of glass at the rim where you drink allows the cocktail to flow smoothly onto the tongue. A thicker rounded glass rim can promote a harshness that is less desirable. The bottom of the glass should be thick, sturdy, and of significant weight to help keep the chill in the glass and to make the glass less fragile.

Glassware can actually give you a much better cocktail experience. Using the right glass for the right drink can accentuate the smell, texture, and flavor of the cocktail. For example, in the use of a Collins glass for a Tom Collins.

The Collins glass is a tall skinny glass and when serving a Tom Collins in it and drinking from a straw your nose is closer to the garnish as you drink. The flavor and smell come together to make a different drink. The Gin Fizz has the exact same ingredients except it is served in a Highball glass, but it tastes different due to the garnish and glass.

All glasses have been designed for a specific task, for example:

Beer Mug – the typical mug with a handle can be used for beer, all beer based cocktails, most frozen cocktails, and coffee based cocktails. Beer Mugs usually hold about 12 to 16 ounces.

Champagne Coupe – champagne saucer is the saucer-shaped stem glass once used for serving champagne, but now more commonly used for certain cocktails such as daiquiris, creamy after-dinner style drinks or toasts.

Cocktail – (also known as a Martini glass) is the icon glass of mixed drinks. The Cocktail glass cannot really be used in place of any other glass, but many, many drinks are served in it. Cocktail glasses are used for short, sharp, or stronger drinks. The stem of the glass has been designed so you may hold it, leaving the bowl free of fingerprints and not take the chill off the glass. All cocktail glasses should be kept in a refrigerator or chilled with ice and water while you prepare the drink.

Coffee Mug – is not a coffee cup. This glass looks similar to a Parfait or Pousse-Café but it has a handle on it as well. This glass is heat tempered and used for coffee based cocktails.

Collins – A collins glass is a glass tumbler which typically will contain 10 to 14 fluid ounces. It is used to serve mixed drinks, especially Tom Collins cocktails. It is cylindrical in shape and narrower than a highball glass. Whatever beverage is served in this glass is intended to have a straw in it with aromatic garnishes. It is popular to serve Mojitos in this glass as well.

Cordial – think shot glass with a stem. They are small and stemmed glasses used for serving small portions of your favourite liquors or liqueurs at times such as after a meal. A Cordial glass is about 1.5 to 2 ounces in size.

Flute – is for the bubbly. The slender shape is intended to concentrate the bubbles that come from Champagne. This glass is good for any Champagne based cocktail, but not much else.

Highball – this essential piece of glassware looks like a taller version of the Rocks glass. This glass is used for most of your tall and cool refreshing drinks that use juices and mixers. It is typically between 8 to 12 ounces.

Hurricane – this specialty glass was put into popular use by Pat O’Brian’s in New Orleans serving up their Hurricane cocktail of the same name. As the story goes the proprietor of the bar was given a case or two of these very strange glasses and he challenged his bartenders to develop a drink to serve in it. As it turned out the drink and the glass were a hit. Any frozen or tropical cocktail can be served in this glass but it does hold quite a lot of liquid.

Margarita – are easy to distinguish from your other glassware. It is actually a Mexican sombrero turned upside down. Beyond the Margarita this glass can be used for just about any frozen cocktail.

Martini Glasses – are the most recognized of the cocktail glasses.  Generally, this is a stemmed glass which has a cone-shaped bowl placed upon a stem above a flat base.  Its form derives from the fact that all cocktails are traditionally served chilled and contain an aromatic element. Thus, the stem allows the drinkers to hold the martini glass without affecting the temperature of the drink, and the wide bowl places the surface of the drink directly under the drinker’s nose, ensuring that the aromatic element has the desired effect.  Martini glasses denotes an era of elegance to many.

Parfait/Pousse-Café – these two glasses look fairly similar and are used for layered cocktails and dessert cocktails. These glasses have square bases, short stems and a narrow bowl.

Pilsner glass – is a glass used to serve many types of light beers, but is intended for its namesake, the pilsner. Pilsner glasses are generally smaller than pint glasses. They tend to have a short neck at the bottom, followed by a rounded taper to a slightly bulged area that forms the glass.

Red Wine – the larger bowl allows red wine to breathe more and express its aroma. In a pinch the Red Wine glass can be used in the same way as the White Wine glass. This glass also comes in many different sizes.,

Rocks – also known as lowball and old fashioned glass. These glasses are usually reserved for an unmixed drink served over ice or with cocktails having few ingredients. Most commonly you will find Double Rocks glasses in public bars, which holds 8 to 10 ounces. Shot – the shooter is a popular drink type and the Shot glass is made for it. The Shot glass can be short and squatty or taller and skinny, but can hold 1 or 2 ounces. Mostly straight liquors or liqueurs are served in it.

Shot Glass - Originally a bar measuring tool, ( and still used as one) , the shot glass has become the choice for “shots” of spirits. The shot glass holds between 1oz – 2ozs.

Snifter – the Snifter, sometimes called a Brandy Snifter, has a very large bowl and is a fairly short glass. This glass is used for sipping aged liquor. The large bowl allows the liquor to breathe, but then it’s smaller at the top to concentrate the aroma to the nose when you are sipping. Only a small amount of liquor is poured into a Snifter. Because they are all different sizes the best way to fill a Snifter is to lay it on its side and pour the liquor in until it is just about to spill out of the glass. Once you set it straight you will have the perfect amount poured.

Sour – more of the specialty glassware. The Sour glass is a shorter more pointed shaped White Wine glass. This glass is specifically used for the Sours family of cocktails (Whisky Sour, Amaretto Sour, etc…). In a pinch this glass can be used in the same way as the White Wine glass.

White Wine – the white wine glass is actually a very versatile piece of glass. In a pinch it can used in place of the Cocktail, Cordial, Shot, Red Wine, Flute, Sour, and Snifter. There is a wide variety of sizes in this glass.

posted by on Sep 15

Cocktail Garnishes: What Garnish For Specific Drinks

Garnishes are designed to add the finishing touch to a beautiful drink. Complement the flavor and style of the drink you’re serving with beautiful garnishes. What garnish do you use for cocktails?

Wheels, slices, wedges, spirals, twists or flamed twists. When it comes to citrus garnishes, cocktail recipes can get quite specific.  Here’s everything you need to know to garnish like a professional bartender!

Garnishes can consist of any combination of fruits, fruit wedges and cocktail onions. When preparing cocktail garnishes, always use fresh, washed ingredients. Fruit is not only used as decoration, but it can mold the taste of the cocktail as well.

It seems that larger lemons and limes are much sweeter than the smaller ones.  Also, make sure that the peel is thin, these tend to be juicer. In order to retrieve more of the juice a bartender will microwave the fruit on high for 20-30 seconds and then let stand for a couple of minutes before cutting and squeezing. Optionally, you can let them soak them in warm water for a few minutes for the same effect. Place the fruit on a flat hard surface with your hand on top of the fruit.  Begin rolling back and forth.  This softens the fruit and makes it easier to squeeze the juice out. Always store freshly cut garnish with either a damp napkin over it or in a garnish tray with a cover when not in use.  This keeps it fresh and fruit flies off.  Freshness is the key word here because sliced fruits usually will not last longer than 24 hours.

Nothing is written in stone when it comes to bartending, especially garnishing drinks .  However, try to use the appropriate garnish for the drinks “theme”.  Rum-based cocktails, like a Bahama Mama, are adorned with tropical garnishes and umbrellas.  Tequila based drinks can have any combination of citrus fruits.  Gin or vodka based drinks lean toward garnishes with a more distinguished flair: pearl onions, olives and the popular citrus twist.  Brandy and whisky drinks usually have minimal use of garnishes.  Upscale restaurants and hotels lean towards the larger, more unrestrained garnishes.  Your neighborhood establishments tend to go low key and functional.  In a nutshell, keep them unproblematic, logical, and fresh. And remember, a bad cocktail with a great garnish still equals a rotten cocktail !

Here are some basic guidelines for garnishing a drink:

Drinks are garnished according to the mixer, the alcohol and the drink or by the clienst preference .

Step 1 – By the Mixer:

Insert the items below into this format:   Anything with _____  is garnished with a ______.

  1. Cranberry juice = Lime
  2. Club Soda = Lime
  3. Tonic Water = Lime
  4. Cola products = Lemon
  5. Orange juice = Orange
  6. Sour mix = Orange and Cherry
  7. Olive juice = Olives
  8. Lemonade = Lemon

Step 2 – By the Liquor:

Hard spirits   come in a variety of choices and flavors that can determine which garnish will be most appropriate.  Vodkas can be flavored with lemon, watermelon, peach, pear and so forth.  Rums come in orange, coconut, raspberry and such.  There are berry liquors, pomegranate liquors and so on–garnish according to fruit flavor, if possible.

Step 3 – By the Martini:

  1. Cosmopolitan = Lemon Twist (some use limes or oranges as well)
  2. Vodka or Gin = Olives
  3. Vodka or Gin (Dry) = Lemon twist
  4. Gibson = Onions
  5. Manhattan = Cherry
  6. Green Apple = Cherry / Apple
  7. Bellini = Dried peach
  8. Pomegranate = Lemon twist or Orange

Step 4 – Other Drinks:

  1. Mojito’s = Mint and lime
  2. Mimosa = Orange
  3. Bloody Mary = Celery and Lime
  4. Margarita = Lime and salt
  5. Daiquiri = Orange and cherry
  6. Pina colada = Pineapple

It’s easy to garnish a cocktail as long as you know what the ingredientsof the drink are , so be educated about what you are serving.  Sometimes bars and restaurants also have specific garnish rules to follow for uniformity.  If you have any questions , ask the consumer if they have a preference , make it simply or just garnish with a lemon twist or lime.

It’s all in the presentation… immediately followed by the flavor of the cocktail!

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Martini Olives, Cocktail Olives, Gourmet Olive Garnish For Martinis

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posted by on Sep 13

Beyond The Basics  Home Bar

So now your ready to expand your stock.  A reasonably intermediate stocked bar runs between $350 – $450. Of course you already have the products suggested previously in the start-up list.  Continuing to build your home bar, you would want to add the following:

Aperitif - 750 ml – is an alcoholic drink that is usually served to stimulate the appetite before a meal and are commonly served with something small to eat. Ouzo would be an example and is popular in Greece.

Bourbon is an American whiskey that has been in production since the 18th century. Bourbon is made primarily from corn and named after Bourbon County, Kentucky. Some bourbons would be Jim Beam or Wild Turkey.

Brandy – 750ml – meaning “burned wine” and is a spirit made from wine or other fermented fruit juices. Brandy should not be selected solely on it’s price . A low-quality brandy can ruin an otherwise great cocktail.

Coffee Liqueur – 750ml – Cordials are high-alcohol, high-sugar beverages with added flavorings usually derived from herbs, fruits, or nuts. Most liqueurs range between 15% and 55% alcohol by volume. The most widely recognized coffee liqueur is the Mexican Kahlua. An alternative would be Tia Maria from Jamaica.

Irish Cream – 750ml – is a cream cordial based on Irish whiskey, cream, and other fixingss which sometimes include coffee, which can be served on its own or used in mixed drinks or as part of a shot. Irish Cream typically has between 15 to 20% alcohol by volume  and is considered a cream liqueur. Some examples would be Cask and Cream, Ryan’s or Carolans.

Red Wine2 bottles – 750ml – It’s color can be derived from a vast assortment of grape varietals  ranging from grapes that are reddish to deep purple. It is the grape skins that are responsible for the red wine’s distinct color spectrum. The skins are in contact with the grape’s juice during the fermentation process, allowing   the dispersion of both color and tannins.  The individual wine’s specific red shade depends on the grape type used in the process and the amount of time the skin’s pigmentation is in contact with juice. 

You can’t forget about the garnishes! 

While a garnish does not create the cocktail, it is certainly a decoration that finishes the presentation.

Lemon slices/wedges/twists

Orange slices/wedges

Limes slices/wedges

Pineapple slices/chunks

Maraschino Cherries

Celery stalks


Cocktail Onions

Tabasco sauce

Angostura bitters

Worcestershire sauce





You’ve heard the phrase, “it looks good enough to eat.”  Garnishes are designed for that very reason.  Complement the flavor and style of the drink you’re serving with beautiful garnishes.

Later we’ll discuss more about how to garnish cocktails properly.  In the meanwhile, enjoy your newly stocked home bar!

Martini Mixers; Stirrings Martini Mix, Cocktail Mixer, Cocktail Rimmers

Martini Olives, Cocktail Olives, Gourmet Olive Garnish For Martinis

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posted by on Sep 8

Home Bar Set-Up

The Home Bar Set-Up Guide 

Westchester’s Number 1 rated bartending school, the Academy of Professional Babrtending School,  would like to thank you for taking the time to review our articles. We are more than just about teaching you how to make drinks.  Our bartending school is comprised of professional, veteran mixologists who are dedicated to teaching YOU the art of creating the perfect cocktail.  As we continue to educate the public, we can assure you that our schools commitment to excellence in education, and to the personal and professional development of each and every student, is as strong and unwavering today as it was in the beginning when our staff began teaching bartending classes.

Here at the Academy, we teach you the skills and techniques with emphasis on the art and craft of perfecting drinks .  We train and help you establish the  essential speed and knowledge of all the favorite drinks . We encourage that with attention on classic as well as creating new and exotic cocktails .  This allows our students to work in ANY environment that serves alcohol with confidence.

We’ve decided to create a mini-series all about mixing drinks, recipes, and generally anything to do with bartending.  This series was designed with both novice as well as the veteran bartender.  We hope you enjoy them. Today’s article is:

How to Set Up a Home Bar

Maybe you’re thinking about planning a special event or you would just prefer to have a home bar that is correctly stocked .

The initial set up for a home bar from can be quite an expensive ordeal. If cost is a factor you’ll want to start off slowly. You would have to consider things such as materials, hardware, tools, bar equipment / supplies and, of course, the spirits in order to set a budget. Then over the course of the next few weeks bit by bit put the pieces together.  The end result will be a finished bar,  completely stocked, that any bartender would be proud to have in their home!

Starter Home Bar

Just a reminder that our list for bar set-ups should be used as a general guideline .  The following spirit selections would allow you to set up a starter bar for approximately $250.00.


Vodka – 750ml – Vodka, one of the world’s most popular spirits , is composed strictly of water and ethanol. Vodka can be made from any fermented element : grain, rye, wheat, potatoes, grapes or rice. When it comes to vodka, avoid the cheap stuff . They taste horrible and will not only ruin a drink but the experience you are trying to create for your guests . Obtaining premium brands such as Belvedere, Grey Goose or Kettle One can obviously become quite expensive . If your on a limited budget stay with your mid-range brands such as Absolut or Finlandia. 

Gin – 750ml – Gin is a spirit whose ruling taste is derived from juniper berries . though many different variations of gin have existed since its beginning , gin is broadly distinguished into two basic legal categories. Distilled gin is created in the customary manner, by re-distilling neutral spirit of agricultural origin with juniper berries and other botanicals. Compound gin is made by merely infusing neutral spirit with essences without re-distillation, and is not as highly accepted . Beefeater, Bombay Dry English Gin or Tanqueray would be safe choices.

Canadian Whisky – 750ml – Most Canadian whiskies are blended multi-grain alcohols containing a large portion of rye, typically lighter and smoother than other whisky styles. According to the laws of Canada, a Canadian whisky must be mashed, distilled and aged in Canada. All whiskies sold in Canada must be aged for at least 3 years in a wooden barrel of not greater than 700 L (approx. 185 U.S. gal) capacity. Some whiskies of choice would be Canadian Club or Seagrams V.O.

Rum – 750ml – Rum is a distilled alcohol made from sugarcane  by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak and other barrels. The majority of the world’s rum production occurs in and around the Caribbean and in several Central and South American countries. Suggested brands: Bacardi, Mount Gay Premium White or El Dorado White.

Tequila – 750ml – is a Blue Agave-based distillate made mainly in the region surrounding the city of Tequila and in the highlands of Jalisco. The red volcanic soil in the surrounding region is specially well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year. Your mid range picks might be: Corazon Blanco, Corralejo Blanco,  Herradura Blanco or Milagro Silver.

Red Wine – 1 bottle – 750ml – It’s color can be derived from a vast assortment of grape varietals  ranging from grapes that are scarlet to dark purple. The skin of the grape is what dictates the color of the wine. The skins are in contact with the grape’s juice during the fermentation process, allowing the dispersion of both color and tannins. The individual wine’s particular red hue depends on the grape type used in the process and the length of time the skin’s pigmentation is in contact with juice. There are far too many variations and factors when choosing wines. Go for your personal preference. You can find some very good wines that are moderately priced.

White Wine – 1 bottle – 750ml – are not white. They are in truth yellow, golden or straw-like in color. Its color can be derived from an assortment of grape varietals. White wines are made from the grape juice and grape skin of green, gold or yellowish colored grapes or from just the juice and not the skin of select red grapes as with some Champagnes.

Beer – is fermented, hop flavored, malt sugar tea. There are four basic building blocks needed to make beer: water, malted barley, and hops. Yeast, (often listed as a fourth ingredient, although not a part of the finished product) is used to ferment the hop flavored malt sugar tea into a fizzy liquid with an average of between three and seven percent ethyl alcohol by weight. (In some cases, such as a Barley Wine, the alcohol content can go to almost 11% by weight.) Both beer and ale are made from Basically the same four building blocks with the major variation being the type of yeast used to ferment the product.

Basically, beer is categorized into one of three different categories: lagers, ales, and the rest fall into a category called specialty beers.

The difference between a lager and an ale is the type of yeast used in fermentation.

Ales - Sometimes referred to as “Top Fermenting  because the nature of ale yeast is to form near the surface in the early stages prior to settling to the bottom of the vat. Warm temperatures are needed during the fermentation process so that the yeast can multiple. Ales , in general, have a tendency to be fuller, more complex and a higher alcohol content.

Lagers – The lager yeast simply flocculates (not at the surface) and settles to the bottom. Therefore it is known as bottom fermenting. Lager yeasts need cool temperatures during fermentation to perform their magic. Lagers tend to be lighter in color and usually taste drier than ales. They are generally less alcoholic and complex. This is the most common beer type sold in the U.S.

Specialty Beers - Specialty beers are either ales, lagers, or a hybrid of the two that will contain other ingredients that cause it to not fit into a true ale or lager style.

The next article will tell you what you need to stock an intermediate bar.


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posted by on Sep 3

Ciroc Blue Ocean Martini Recipe

Ciroc Blue Ocean; Vodka Martini Recipe


  • 1 oz. Cîroc Vodka (25 oz. per bottle)
  • .5 oz. blue curacao
  • .25 oz. grapefruit juice
  •  splash(es) simple syrup

Fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice.  Add vodka, blue curacao, grapefruit juice, and sugar syrup.  Cover and shake vigorously.  Strain into a martini glasses.   Garnish with lemon or orange slice.