The Mixology Talk Podcast, Episode Fifty Four
When running a craft cocktail bar, you sometimes have to get creative! Here are some of the tools that Chris has used in craft cocktail production at his bar – some from Craigslist, some stolen from the kitchen, but all super useful.
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In today’s Episode…
We’ve talked in the past about standard bar equipment like strainers, shakers, and jiggers – but when working on unique craft cocktails in a high volume environment, you sometimes have to get creative with the tools that you’re using – especially if you work in a high volume bar!
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Craft bars use fresh juice, and fresh juice means you need a juicer!
- Hand Juicer: This is what I recommend for home bars or low-volume craft bars. If you’re only juicing one lemon or lime at a time, this is definitely the way to go.
- Commercial Manual Juicer: This is the next step up for volume bars. When I needed to juice 3 cases and hundreds of limes, this is how I did it. Your hands will thank you and your arms will look awesome! For high volume citrus juicing, this is definitely the way to go.
- Commercial Auto-Feed Juicer: Someday I want to own one of these. I’ve yet to find one that advertises lime and lemon support, but who knows? Maybe it’ll work. Automatically juicing your citrus seems like a fantastic way to relieve your wrists and shoulders of the job – but it may be a tough case to get your bar to buy (and find space for) this $800 machine.
- Juice Extractor: For non-citrus fruits, you’ll need a different kind of juicer. This one is very similar to the one we have, which has been great for us. Be gentle if juicing sinewy things like celery – it can be done, but take it slow!
- Masticating Juicer: This is the Terminator of Juicers. It’s designed to juice just about anything you put into it. This type is typically more expensive, but I suspect it’d make quick work of the celery I mentioned above.
- Chinois / Bouillon Strainer: Pronounced “Shee-Nwah”, the Chinois strainer has an extremely fine mesh which can be very useful when you really need a very fine strainer. Naturally straining with this bad boy will take longer – but it’s physically larger as well, which helps.
- Cheese Cloth: This old-school fine strainer is very, very handy. It’s extremely flexible too – you can add layers for a finer strain or remove them if you don’t need it. It’s also inexpensive and just a good option to have handy in any kitchen.
- Back of House: You want power, speed, volume and reliability. This is one good example. Your roasted rutabagas don’t stand a chance.
- Front of House: For the front of the house you want all of the same characteristics as the back of the house but you also want it to as quiet as possible. This one has come very well recommended, though I haven’t had the opportunity to work in a bar with a blended cocktail program – yet!
- Vacuum Sealer: If your establishment has one of these (plus the sous vide machine below) you are in for a treat. Vacuum sealing isn’t just about food preservation – you can use it to infuse flavor, make Oleo Saccharum, and as the first step in sous-vide cooking your cocktail ingredients.
- Sous Vide Machine: This is a great way to play with very delicate infusions. It’s easy to over-extract with herbs like mint and rosemary and bring the bitterness out of the plant. With a sous vide machine you can very accurately select the temperature to pull just the flavor you want and leave the bitterness behind.
- Wine Key with Teflon Worm: Ok, this is actually a pretty standard bar tool, but I felt like it was worth mentioning here. Not all wine keys are the same. Get a double-hinge, and get one with a teflon worm (the screw bit) – it makes a world of difference when opening dozens of bottles a night!
- Draft Beer Cap and Brush: Have beer on tap? I highly recommend these over the “saran wrap” approach. They both cap and clean and keep the fruit flies out.
- Carbonating Machine: This is a bit of a DIY project but I absolutely love mine. Ditch the sodastream and make a $100 investment and you’ll have carbonation for pennies, forever.
- Oak Barrel: Barrel aging cocktails is both fancy and a great way to pre-batch. Here’s our post on how to do it. If you’re going to do this in a bar, consider that you’ll need several barrels cycling at any given time to keep up with demand.
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Have you used any of the tools mentioned in this podcast? Let us know below!