When I was starting out as a bartender I thought stirring was super easy and that I was pretty good at it. Then I realized by looking at more experienced bartenders that my technique was terrible, and made me look like an amateur!

This is the first post in a series dedicated to techniques that you need to know and perfect if you’re hoping to work in a cocktail bar.

Quick Recap on When to Stir vs. Shake:

When you shake a cocktail, it becomes murky – but stirring keeps it clear.  That’s why drinks that are only spirit are best suited for stirring.  For more on this, check out one of our very first posts! (Can you tell we’ve learned a thing or two about video since then? 🙂

Tips and Techniques for Proper Stirring:

  • Before you stir, ensure your mixing glass has been chilled.  This chills the spirit more without adding dilution.
  • Then, add your spirit to the mixing glass. (Note, if you don’t have a mixing glass you can use the bottom cup of your cocktail shaker.)
  • Put your bar spoon in the mixing glass before you add the ice.  This avoids the awkward “stabbing” move to get the spoon into the glass.
  • While stirring, let your fingers do the work – not your wrist.
  • Try to be as quiet as possible when stirring.  Noise correlates with the possibility of chipping ice & over-diluting the cocktail.
  • Some people recommend stirring 40 “stirs” (20 in each direction) but I usually just go by time – approximately 7-10 seconds in each direction.  I’d recommend stirring higher-proofed spirits a little bit longer.
  • When straining, use a julep strainer instead of a hawthorne to help keep your drink clear.

By the way – for my recommendations on bar spoons and mixing glasses, check out our Tools of the Trade page.

The Ultimate Guide to Bar Spoons:

Check out our ultimate guide to bar spoons for a lot more information about this humble bar tool – from the history to the different types available and a buyers’ guide to help you choose the best one for you!

Need Bar Spoons?

Check out our custom spoons for sale on Amazon!

Set of 2 Professional Bar Spoons

Chris custom designed these heavyweight bar spoons to be balanced and comfortable in your hand. Choose a set with spiral handles, smooth handles, or one of each!

In the next few weeks we’ll be talking about other bartending techniques like shaking and jigger pouring, so stay tuned!

Any stirring tips you can add? Let us know in the comments!

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.