Customers Love Cocktails: Shake Things Up With Cocktail Essentials From AnlarVo

By Spencer Reynolds

It’s no secret that beverage sales account for a large chunk of revenue at restaurants and bars across Canada. Beer and wine are always popular, but the emergent star of the bar over the last decade has been cocktails. According to Statistics Canada, spirits have gained 2.5% market share over the last decade, mostly at the expense of beer.

Where cocktails were once for old men (Manhattans and Gimlets) or boozy brunch (Caesars and Mimosas), they’ve since crashed into the mainstream. The Espresso Martini is having a resurgence, and the Negroni Sbaliato went viral this year when Game of Thrones star Emma Darcy mentioned it as their drink of choice.

Shaken or Stirred?

It’s an iconic line, but there’s actually some science behind the distinction. Both shaking and stirring a cocktail over ice will chill the drink and dilute it slightly with water. Shaking typically dilutes more and adds tiny air bubbles to the drink, which changes the texture of the finished product through a process called aeration.

By contrast, stirring a cocktail in a mixing glass will chill it down with minimal dilution and without adding any air at all. This creates a silky-smooth finish.

There are many kinds of shakers and mixing glasses. For a basic setup, AnlarVo has a simple glass beaker and a classic Boston shaker which should do the trick!

In either case, you’ll need a strainer to get the drink out of the vessel and into the glass. If you practice with a Hawthorne strainer, you can even avoid the floating ice chips that sometimes wind up in a drink. Some bars will double-strain cocktails using a small mesh sieve to ensure the ice chips stay in the shaker, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Bartending Basics

Some of the basic elements of a good bar kit are about speed and consistency. Tools like a Jigger can enable a bartender to pour accurate measurements of multiple spirits at speed. Pour spouts make this job even easier by slowing down the speed at which the spirits leave the bottle, and making it consistent.

For stirring cocktails, a long bar spoon is the best tool — it enables you to rapidly spin the drink around the ice. Sometimes a muddler is called for, to bruise mint and lime for a mojito or crush up a sugar cube. Both are standard tools you should add to your kit, alongside a citrus peeler for garnish.

Extra Tips and Tricks

A cocktail on the rocks, like a Negroni or a Whiskey Sour, is best served over a large ice cube. The larger the cube, the slower it melts, so not only does it look handsome in the glass, it has a functional benefit as well. A silicone ice cube tray is a great way to keep a few large cubes on hand at the bar.

Some cocktails, like the aforementioned Negroni Sbaliato, call for sparkling wine. This is a great way to snazz things up and add some fizz, but it can be frustrating to open a bottle of sparkling wine only to use two ounces and watch the rest go flat. Enter the Champagne stopper: a convenient little invention that will keep a bottle of sparkling doing just that for days at a time.

If you really want to try something exciting, smoking a glass with AnlarVo’s smoker kit can add a completely new layer to a drink. Most cocktails are a combination of flavours and textures, sometimes with a garnish. Adding a scent to the glass elevates the experience, and is especially effective for spirit-forward whiskey drinks. It’s mesmerizing to watch (and prepare). Add some magic to your cocktail menu with a smoker, but be aware that it can slow down your bartender as it’s not a very quick process.

Last Call

Below are some rapid-fire tips and tricks to ensure your cocktail program gets up and running with its best foot forward.

  • Store Vermouth in the fridge
    Vermouths are fortified wines, and can oxidize when exposed to air. To slow this process down, be sure to close the bottle tightly and store them in the fridge. If you don’t sell a lot of Vermouth (a key ingredient in Martinis and Negronis), be sure to taste-test them from time to time and consider buying the smallest sizes available.
  • Measured Success
    Cocktails follow precise recipes. If you find that you have liquid left over in the shaker after you’ve filled the glass, you may be over-shaking (and over-diluting), or putting too much ice in the glass. Your customer is paying for a specific amount of spirit in each drink, they should get the full volume. (AnlarVo’s pour spouts and jiggers will help with this, too!)
  • Flair is impressive, but only once you’ve mastered the basics
    We’ve all seen bartenders hurl bottles and shakers around, defying gravity and putting on a show. It’s entertainment value, but it doesn’t actually make the drinks taste better. Be sure to master the basics and work on your cocktails first.
  • Cocktails can be low, or no, alcohol
    More and more people are sober-curious, especially Gen-Z. Mocktails are a great way to play with flavours and mix up a satisfying beverage without the spirits. Tonic waters, bitters, garnish and tinctures are a great way to ensure everyone has something to drink. Plus, the margin on mocktails is great for your bottom line.

Whether you’re serving boozy Margaritas or calming non-alcoholic mocktails, AnlarVo’s cocktail essentials will ensure your bar is set up and ready to mix things up.