For today's post, I will be focusing on my efficient free pour system (count system) when pouring from liquor bottles into a glass or tin. Of course, you will need pourers on top of bottles. I find that the best pourers around are the clear plastic and silver, long spout ones you can be purchase at 'The Restaurant Store' in Camp Hill. They are very accurate, inexpensive, and have a smooth pour flow. Also, get some jiggers to use for juices and mixers. You can always use the jiggers until you feel comfortable free-pouring. Most come in a 1/2 oz/1 oz size as well as 1 oz/2 oz size and 1 1/2 oz/3/4 oz sizes.
Basically, my system is an 8-count system where you count as you pour from the bottle based on the ounces called for in the recipe. This is the system I used when I was a Mixology Instructor at the Bartending School and continue to use. The following chart lists the ounces and corresponding counts:
1/8 oz (splash) = 1 count 1 1/4 oz = 8 + 2 count 3 oz = 8 + 8 + 8 count
1/4 oz = 2 count 1 1/2 oz = 8 + 4 count
1/2 oz = 4 count 1 3/4 oz = 8 + 6 count
3/4 oz = 6 count 2 oz = 8 + 8 count
1 oz = 8 count 2 1/2 oz = 8 + 8 + 4 count
You will notice that all counts are even numbers based on the count of 8 for 1 ounce. When you pour more than 1 ounce, you must re-start your count instead of continuing to count into the teens and twenties. There is a natural pause when re-start your count. It can be very time consuming if you have many ingredients in a cocktail, so it is recommended to pour from two bottles at the same time. This is an advanced technique that many newbies have difficulty with because it takes precise coordination and, at times, requires you to drop a bottle while continuing to pour from the other, i.e. a Cosmopolitan calls for 2 oz Citrus Vodka, 1 oz Cointreau, 1/2 oz lime juice, and 1/2 oz cranberry juice. You would pour both bottles up to 1 oz (8 count), then drop the cointreau and continue to pour the vodka for another 8 count (1 oz) for a total of 3 ounces. Then you will pour the lime juice for a 1/2 oz (4-count). For the cranberry juice, grab a jigger and pour into the 1/2 oz side and drop in. I always recommend placing the bottle that you will drop in your dominant hand because it is easier to drop. Always pour up to the lowest ingredient quantity. What if you have unequal ingredients, 1 1/2 oz and 3/4 oz cocktail? Same concept, but a little more difficult. The count with both bottles would be a 6 count (3/4oz), then drop, then another 6 count (3/4 oz) to finish off other bottle. Some helpful hints below:
- keep bottle completely upright for an accurate pour/eliminate trail of liquid. Think door hinge when raising and lowering the bottle.
- place finger on side of pourer to prevent covering up the air hole, which will stop the flow.
- keep finger on the pourer in case the pourer gets loose. I've seen bartenders grab the bottle around the neck or bottom and spill the alcohol all over themselves. Plus, it looks more professional and some pourers loosely fit in large mouth bottles.
- pour bottle with label of bottle facing you keeping pourers facing left and in same direction for proper hand placement.
I hope this info isn't too confusing and that I provided you with a foundation for pouring. If you're a home bartender, some of these suggestions don't need to be followed exactly. If you have the time, you can certainly pour one bottle at a time, but it looks cool and flashy to use two. A good way to practice is to use an empty liquor bottle and fill it with water, place a pourer on it, and just pour out to get a feel for it, then pour into a jigger to get the pace of your pour down. For some people, it's a slow count or a fast count. Once you mastered this, pour into a glass blindly and measure out in jigger to see how accurate you were. My son, Brendon, enjoys playing around with this.
Until the next time...Happy Mixing! Cheers!