How to Bartend at Home

By Robert Hess

Feeling like a professional bartender at home can be as easy as having the right tools. Here are some special suggestions that can up your game the next time you entertain.

Recipe

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Comments
Adam "Barless Bartender" 1 Apr 2008
3:29 pm

Boy did I pick the wrong video to start playing the Kegworks Drinking Game! 7 shots of blended Canadian whisky for the 7 times you mentioned “Kegworks”...(burp!)

Seriously, two weeks ago I did cave-in and went online to purchase a 20 oz. 2 Piece Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker from Kegworks. After a thorough test run of vigorous ice shaking and flip-and-flair, I found out two things:

1) The 2 piece shaker lovingly and easily breaches when frosted, just like an old school Boston shaker and very much unlike a pain in the rear 3 piece shaker.

And…

2) My 3 piece shakers are quite aerodynamic when thrown from 20 yards into an alley dumpster.

Thank you Kegworks!

But, I’m still holding you, Master Mixologist Hess, to the highest caliber when concocting quality cocktails without compromising yourself or your creations to the marketing ploy of your sponsors….burp! }^}

Peter V 1 Apr 2008
4:20 pm

Adam writes:

“My 3 piece shakers are quite aerodynamic when thrown from 20 yards into an alley dumpster”

Not so fast Adam you’re dumping history!

Dale DeGroff writes in his book “Art of the Cocktail” that the three piece shaker was originally known and patented as the

“cobbler shaker”

Cobblers are old fashioned (late 1800’s) drinks with fresh fruit, shaken with the spirits. The three piece shaker was designed for this drinking tradition.

Adam "Barless Bartender" 1 Apr 2008
5:12 pm

To Peter V:

OK, add “Dumpster Diver” to my handle cause I’m going back to retrieve my 3 piece shakers. NOT!

F-it! I hold history sacred, “like the farmer holds the earth in his had sacred.” And I appreciate this bit of history associated with the 3 piece, a.k.a. cobbler shaker. I’m a notch wiser now thanks to you. But the pour speed from the 2 piece breach is much faster than the shake n’ strain of the 3 piece. Plus, those steel caps of the 3 piece tend to “freeze-fuse” to the top cover when chilled. In the end, I just end up breach pouring. }:^(

Eric 3 Apr 2008
3:28 am

First off let me say, I’ve been watching for quite a while now and thanks for all the great information, and inspiration.  By now I’ve set up quite the decent home bar and my cocktail reputation is starting to grow.

At first I was very happy for you to pick up the Kegworks sponsorship, you should certainly be rewarded for the great work you’re doing.  But, I’ve been more and more concerned as time goes on.  The first thing I noticed is you’re not using the classic juicer anymore.  After watching so many episodes of you using that, and how well it works, I paid way too much for a pristine version on ebay, and it’s been great.  I knew I could trust your opinion and it didn’t steer me wrong.

While I won’t stop watching since the info is so helpful, I think you’ve taken things too far.  It starts calling into question your show’s credibility.  It’s no longer a place I can look to for guidance in selecting the best cocktail tools, since it has basically become an exclusive advertisement for your sponsor, and I can get that from their web site.  I’m glad I started watching earlier, so I know that this is merely sponsorship gone wrong.  I feel bad for new viewers whose only opinion of you might be as a spokesperson for their products, the cocktails coming second to that.

In any case, thanks again for your hard work, it’s certainly been a great find for many of us.


Oh and a PS to the previous posters… I use the three-piece shaker by Oneida, and it strains well, has never fused together… maybe I got lucky with the first one I bought but I’ve never understood why people have such a horrible time with three-pieces.  While I plan to buy other shakers/strainers in the future, it’s more for the coolness factor as much as anything, since this has been working just fine.

Brian D 3 Apr 2008
9:16 am

Hi Eric-

Thank you very much for you comments - We take them all, both constructive and positive.  I can assure you that we worked extremely hard to identify products that would fit well with our audience.  Robert has very high standards, and we would not jeopardize his reputation or insult the intelligence of our audience, by “pushing” products that have no place in the bar.

We have had numerous advertising inquiries that we have turned down since they didn’t fit the high standards we have set.  If you don’t agree with some of the products being used please feel free to point them out, we want this to be a community based show where everyone’s thoughts are welcome!

I know you appreciate our previous episodes, but those were produced by us personally without a sponsor and the continuation of the show would not be possible.  Aside from the sponsorship, I hope you are able to appreciate the improvement in production value.  As an an answer to your juicer question, Robert answered in a previous post:

“To date, I don

Nicholas 3 Apr 2008
12:53 pm

I’ve been with this show since the first episode and always quickly jump online whenever I see “The Cocktail Spirit” in my inbox.  I’m happy you’ve picked up a sponsor but feel it is starting to get in the way of the “Spirit.”

This episode felt like one giant advertisement for KegWorks, with very little content.  Did Robert show us all his favorite bar equipment or just cherry pick the stuff also available at KegWorks?  I’m not sure, but as a viewer it felt like the latter.  I have no doubt the equipment promoted is of fine quality (I own several pieces of it myself) but I get the feeling that the show is being made for a viewership consisting of 50% KegWorks representatives, 50% cocktail enthusiast audience.  I don’t suggest dropping the sponsor, but maybe dialing it back to 20% KegWorks, 80% enthusiast would work better.

Thanks!

Small Screen Colin 3 Apr 2008
3:14 pm

Thank you all or your comments. I will skip the direct response as I believe my business partner Brain did a great job at explaining how we run our business and that your comments are very valuable to us.

This brings up an issue that we have debated here at Small Screen Network: to add subscription fees or not.
The current incarnation of this in my mind is to offer all our current and future content for free to all. The downfall would be that it comes with ads and sponsorships attached. The next level would be for audience members who do not want ads and feel it either detracts from their viewing experience or the content in general. Each member would decide if they wanted to pay for one episode or a whole series. The price would correspond accordingly.

My hope is that people are willing to pay for high quality content if the price is right. If you are not, why?

We would love to hear your opinion on this. Please email me directly or comment here. Thanks!

colin@smallscreennetwork.com

Cairo Cassady 4 Apr 2008
12:17 am

Hey guys… putting in my $.02… so read at your own risk, haha!  I think the show is still premium.  The juicer seems to have a lot of folks shaken up (no pun intended… or maybe they’re stirred?  Do we have cloudy ingredients?!), and maybe this hardware-only episode has been the straw that’s broken the camel’s back for some of ya, but the drinks that Robert shows us are still top-drawer, and that his attention to detail has, naturally, not waned.  The recent rash of Polynesian drink episodes have been a testament to that.  No disrespect, but enough about juicers.  Let’s get down to brass tacks and learn about cocktails and share our enthusiasm and knowledge here.  I look forward to more interviews, cocktails, and tales of the cocktail… and I’m sure you all do as well.  Oh, and I reckon I’d rather not pay, haha!  If for no other reason, then because if we pay episode by episode, we’re going to cheapskate our way out of enjoying the Cocktail Spirit, I predict.  I’ve learned about so many drinks that I’d never have given a second look to just because these video resources were here.  If I have to pay, I’d have maybe only watched the Manhattan episode, but now I know what the hell a Moscow Mule is or a Kir Royale.  Even if I never actually make a Kir Royale, I’m hip to what it is and enjoyed watching it’s creation.  I’ll stick with the Kegworks plugs, because really, how much are they altering what we’re presented about the drinks themselves?

But anyway, let’s all just have fun with it… because if we’re not having fun, then what are we having?  Have smashing weekend!

Robert Hess 4 Apr 2008
7:33 am

Great feedback, and a nice discussion!

As Brian and Colin both indicated, these KegWorks episodes were our first use of “sponsorship” in the show, and we are testing out how best to incorporate this. Up to this point, the costs to produce and distribute these shows have been “out of pocket”, and so it is important that we find the right business model so that these shows, which we of course love to provide, can continue!

KegWorks is a company that I definately believe in, I was a customer of them before they came on as a sponsor, and I feel that they carry many great products. I might not be able to recommend “all” of the products they carry, but they do indeed appear to really want to focus on carrying the broadest range of the best products available. They’ve already picked up several products specifically on my recommendation (such as the sturdy bar spoon, two piece shaker, and luxardo marachino cherries).

Perhaps my eagerness to voice my support for them in some of these episodes got the better of me :->

Robert Hess 4 Apr 2008
7:41 am

re: Cobbler Shakers

But let’s get back to the important stuff… talking about cocktails! :->

There is actually contradictory information about the “Cobbler” shaker. Some of it has surfaced after Dale’s writeup in his book. Some early references to the “three part” shaker refer to it as a “Boston” shaker (huh!?), while refering to what we call a Boston shaker as a Cobbler.

I’ve taken to using “Combination Shaker” when referring to the three part shaker. and “Parisian Shaker” when referring to the elegantly curved two piece shaker that you see me using here.

But some more about the Cobbler drink…

This drink post-dates the “cocktail”, coming into vouge perhaps in the 1830’s. It is one of the first drink that really incorporates ice as a required component, but perhaps more importantly it also is one of the first times where a “Straw” is part of proper service. While this might not seem that important, you have to remember this is well before the first paper straws were patented. Prior to that, what would have been used in the Cobbler would have been… well… straw. Or perhaps more precisely reeds of dried rye grass, which were cut to size. and were wide enough to function as a straw. There were also “glass” straws made, but those were a tad fragile as you might expect.

-Robert

Josh Baugher 4 Apr 2008
8:28 am

Robert, Is there any chance that KegWorks will start carrying a higher-quality line of items endorsed by you? I’ve ordered a few things from KegWorks and have been very pleased with my purchases, but a lot of their products are geared towards the mass market bar crowd and not folks operating with your sense of precision and style.

Ideas for products to carry: the Oxo strainer, hard to find glassware (pisco, coupe, etc.), the infamous citrus press (maybe design a modern variation), the french mixing glass, etc.

Matt 4 Apr 2008
3:03 pm

I think the Kegworks sponsorship is great. I’ve purchased bitters and mixers from there that I can’t find where I live. It was a great resource. I think it’s great that you have a sponsor that is actually a quality retailer and I’m glad that you are working to keep the show free. I love this show.

I do agree with Josh though, that would be great if Kegworks could start carrying items like that, I would love to buy high quality and hard to find glassware and tools from them. Some of the tools Robert uses in earlier episodes I’ve tried to find, but they are either not for sale or very expensive.

Anyway, keep up the great work Robert. You were the one that inspired me to get into cocktail making and as such I read lots of cocktail blogs everyday. Thanks for all that you do.

Dan 5 Apr 2008
12:56 pm

I am disappointed by the diminution of the show’s intellectual integrity since the introduction of the current sponsor.  Based on Robert’s meticulously high standards, I built a bar that I am quite proud of.  Although I will continue to watch, I must say, unfortunately, that I no longer trust Robert’s opinion.  Therefore, I will not purchase products from KegWorks.com.  In fact, the bar tools that Robert has showcased (other than the ones he implored the sponsor to carry) seem quite flimsy and cheap!

Why devote a whole show to a few supplies that really have no direct bearing on drink quality?  Before, if Robert wanted to mention a specific tool, he would do so within the context of preparing a cocktail.  Guys, if 90% of the products Robert uses are available on KegWorks.com, there is no need to plug them so conspicuously!

Robert Hess 5 Apr 2008
8:40 pm

Josh,
I have been talking with the folks at KegWorks to hopefully build up a collection of tools which are selected/endorsed/whatever either by myself, or others in the industry with a specific focus on quality/commercial products, perhaps even going so far as trying to source rarer products, or in some cases even trying to get products specifically made. So hopefully we might see something along these lines soon.

-Robert

Andre Glaeser 7 Apr 2008
8:27 am

I wouldn’t mind to pay a subscription fee for this wonderful show and I have no problem with sponsorship, either. But the sponsor should never have influence on the content of the show. Mention them in the beginning and at the end or wear a shirt with a giant logo but don’t let them downgrade the show.

Sorry, but this episode was a waste of everybody’s time. I don’t think you did your sponsor any favour with it. Right now I associate them with a decline of quality and that can’t be in the interest of them.

Nevertheless, the last 12 months were great. Thank you!

(sorry for the English)

blair frodelius 10 Apr 2008
10:53 am

I have no problem with this episode other than it was too short.  I think it would have been of interest to everyone to explain the origins of the various bar tools.

Blair

Robert Hess 10 Apr 2008
2:57 pm

@Blair…
For that, you might want to come to the “Bar Tools” session I’m doing with David Wondrich at “Tales of the Cocktail” in July :->

http://www.TalesOfTheCocktail.com

-Robert

Brian D. 10 Apr 2008
7:47 pm

Colin and I will be at Tales filming - Don’t know our schedule yet, but we will definately try our best to get some content from this one.  Call it a mulligan for some of the people unsatisfied with this episode :)

Jimmy 10 Apr 2008
11:14 pm

These shows are great, and I liked this bar tools episode. I have been a KegWorks customer on several occasions and have nothing bad to say about them. As a working bartender, I have most of my kit already, but I like to see what new stuff is available. Thanks guys for so many episodes of The Cocktail Spirit.

Lawrence Spies 27 Aug 2009
12:11 am

Keep it Free! Love the website, videos, information for free, but I would not pay for it,  unless it is really, really cheap! So I don’t mind listening to some advertising as long as the theme of “The Cocktail Spirit” is not lost in it. More “details” about the products you use, and less on “where” to get them I think may be the problem with some of the posts I have read here. I feel Robert and SSN are doing a great job with the website and information on it, all for FREE! Why bitch and complain? While Kegworks does have great stuff, (I just placed an order for some bitters, and other stuff), they are not the only game in town to buy from. So if you feel some Kegworks products are not up to your standards, use Roberts, and SSN advise on cocktails, and content of the videos, and purchase your products else where. Don’t run down Robert and SSN for doing what is necessary to keep this website and great info on it, free!, by having a sponsor. Did I mention it is FREE?

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