What Is A Bar Spoon?
Bar Spoons – A Brief History
At first glance, the humble bar spoon might not seem like it has any secrets. You’ve maybe wondered why they can be so long, or why it has that flat end and spiralled handle. Rest assured, all of these attributes are well thought out and essential in helping create beautiful cocktails and perfectly layered shots.
The bar spoon has a relatively short history, like many other bartending tools it started its life as a practical garnish, known as the sucket spoon, in the 1800’s. Unlike the modern versions you’ll see in most cocktail bars today, the sucket spoon, had a fork on one end and a spoon on the other. This allowed guests to stir their drinks and fish out pesky olives or berries within the drink.
Anyone who has seen a Bond movie will have heard the phrase ‘Shaken or stirred’. As much as we might be tempted to order a shaken martini, most bartenders will recommend that they are far better stirred down. To do this you’ll need a decent bar spoon.
Choosing Your Bar Spoon
There are many styles, shapes and lengths of bar spoon available online. These can be broken down into 3 main categories, the European, American and Japanese.
European Bar Spoon
If its practicality your looking for…look no further. The European bar spoon is characterised by a flat disc on one end and is a choice favourite of cocktails bars throughout the world. The flat disc has a variety of uses, it can be used for crushing soft ingredients like berries or sugar cubes, however, it’s no substitute for a quality muddler. It’s also handy when used for layering cocktails, blending ingredients together, or ‘churning’ a drink involving crushed ice.
American Bar Spoon
Inexpensive, functional and does what you’d expect of a spoon – but not much more. The American bar spoon is easily recognisable with a coloured rubber cap covering one end, serving no other purpose than to protect the bartenders hand. It’s a no thrills option, but reliable when it comes to the job of stirring.
Japanese Bar Spoon
Highly regarded as one of the most eye catching and pristine designs within the industry. Japanese bar spoons tend to be longer than their western competition, and can measure up to a lengthy 40cm. The well known teardrop shape and design isn’t just for elegant appearances, the larger tip adds more weight for a better center of gravity when stirring down a drink.
How To Use Your Bar Spoon
Stirring and Mixing
The correct method to stir down classic drinks like the martini, old fashioned or Negroni is quite simple with a bit of practice. You’ll first need to take the spoon in your dominant hand, placing it into the mixing glass taking care to ensure the base of the spoon is against the glass. As you move the spoon follow the circular shape of the glass, letting the twisted neck of the spoon rotate between your fingers as it goes round. The aim here is to get the ice and liquid ingredients to move as one, taking care to not jumble the ice or crack cubes as you go.The end result should be a perfectly diluted and balanced cocktail, but it’s advisable to stop and taste your mixture throughout the process to ensure you don’t over-stir your drink.
Layering Drinks and Shots
Layered drinks and shots are a perfect way of impressing your guests. The art of layering is based on the oil and water principle, floating lighter distilled spirits like vodka and tequila on heavier ones such as liquers and syrups. This process can be tricky to master, but is made far easier by using the twisted stem found on European bar spoons in combination with the flat disc. By pouring carefully mid-way on the stem of the spoon liquid will run down the shaft before being slowed and spread out by the flat end, reducing impact and evenly spreading layers. Great examples of layering includes well known shots like the B-52.