A mixed drink's ingredients are not the only things to make it special -- the measurements have as much to do with the final product as the liquors poured. Knowing and following the proper ratios of mixed drinks -- and the different ways of mixing them -- add both professionalism and sophistication to your mixology.
By the Book
The biggest key to a mixed drink's proper ratios is found in its recipe. Bartending and cocktail books are the best bet for the recipes because professionals have written them with many years in the service industry or writing about mixology. Online resources will do in a pinch, though recipes tend to vary from site to site. The best rule for obtaining a recipe from a website is to research who's writing the recipes -- user-generated ones can be misleading.
Measure by Measure
Pouring a mixed drink can be another problem altogether. Without the proper measuring tools, drinks might turn out too weak or too strong, or just too bad. A handy tool for mixing drinks is a jigger. Jiggers are small metallic hourglass-shaped measuring cups with two different-size hollow sides; each side of the jigger is labeled with measurements in ounces. Shot glasses that have a line drawn near their rim and labeled with a measurement and measuring spoons or cups will also work.
Pour Free or Die
Free pouring is a more advanced step for barkeeps with a little time under their belts. Free pouring is just pouring straight from the bottle with an attached metal or plastic pour spout. Practice free pouring by filling an empty liquor bottle with water, then count while the water flows out and measure the final amount of water -- with a little experience you will be able to gauge the amount of the pour by your count.
Double Trouble and Winging It
For times that you want to tweak a recipe, pour a double. Doubles generally mean twice as much alcohol -- 1.5 times as much if you are already pouring heavily, but a well-made double has all of its ingredients proportionately increased. If you are feeling truly adventurous, create your own cocktails by following a few simple rules: Pour 2 parts liquor, 1 part sweet ingredient -- like simple syrup or sweetened soda -- or pour 2 parts liquor and 1 part either sweet or sour.
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