Follow the recipe
Barmen and women over the years have experimented long and hard to create the perfect cocktail and like any food recipe if you get the ingredients or the order in which they are prepared wrong you’ll end up with an inferior product. Think about such drinks as a B52, the whole point of the Bailey’s is that it floats on the top, so no use putting it into the glass first.
Dress it up.
People want to drink cocktails for the glamour, so glam up the drink with fruit garnishes, stirrers, novelty cocktail sticks and the ever present paper umbrella. Just the same way that people “eat with their eyes first”, so it is with cocktails. Most importantly if a recipe uses a particular ingredient, such as fresh orange then compliment the drink with an orange garnish.
Lights, camera, action!
Part of the cocktail experience is the theatre of it all, though you may not be an expert bottle juggler (and many of us have bar designs that preclude it anyway), you should make a show of the mixing and serving. Not only does the immediate customer feel special, but potential cocktail customers might buy into the experience as well.
Cocktail shakers and strainers are two of the most important pieces of bar equipment in the mixologist’s tool kit. Shakers come in different shapes and sizes and have different purposes for each.
A small shaker with an integrated lid/ strainer can be an attractive addition to any bar. One way to use this would be to mix the drink at the bar and then serve by placing the shaker and an empty glass in front of the customer. They then pour the drink themselves which adds an interactive element and lets them feel like a bartender to some extent.
A more common style of cocktail shaker for the average bar is a stainless steel mixing cup combined with a 16 oz mixing glass. This set up allows for mixing of multiple servings of a cocktail drink or shooter at one time and this is helpful for high-traffic bars.
Shakers with built-in strainer lids or combined with mixing glasses do not require a separate cocktail strainer but strainers are useful too. A cocktail strainer is used instead of creating a crack in between the shaker and mixing glass for keeping ice out of a drink when pouring (a surprisingly difficult skill to learn and ultimately very messy if you get it wrong!). Cocktail strainers are designed to fit in the top rim of a mixing glass and use a piece of spring like coil to stay in place while pouring.
The key to a mixed drink or cocktail is the proportions of ingredients and measuring is paramount to success. The two main methods for achieving accurate quantities of sprits in a drink are free pouring and jigger pouring.
For the sake of your stock result and profitability I wouldn’t recommend free pour, by far the most accurate method of pouring requires the use of a jigger. Jiggers are available in various sizes and generally have two sizes of measurements in one. A common size is a 25 ml or 50 ml jigger because these and multiples of these are common amounts in drink recipes.
Many recipes will require crushed ice and unless you have a dual purpose ice making machine that provides both cubed and crushed ice you will need an ice crusher. You can buy either a very simple hand-turned ice crusher or a powered version, the latter is for those of you that envisage high volumes.
Other recipes will call for fruit or other items such as cream to be blended and a bar-top jug blender is what you will need. These can range from domestic versions through to high speed, heavy duty machines; the former will suffice for most needs, however, if you are going to be making lots of smoothies etc then the latter will be a must.