Knowing Alcoholic Beverages

No professional bar manager or bartender should be unacquainted with the production processes of major product types. On the following pages is a quick guide to leading alcoholic beverages sold in the US.

Go ahead and click on each drink to read more:


Aarak Herbal flavor, made in East Indies
Amaretto Almond/apricot flavor made from apricot pits in Italy
Anisette Licorice flavor, made from aniseed
B&B A combination of Brandy and Benedictine
Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate and cream flavors, Irish whiskey based. Made in Ireland
Bitters Made from roots, barks, and herbs. Aromatic and pungent flavoring for cocktails
C&C Combination of Cointreau and Cognac
Chambord Black raspberry flavor, made in France
Chambraise Wild cherry flavor
Chartreuse Herbal flavor, made from a secret, old-world formula, two colors - green and yellow
Coffeehouse Kahlua substitute
Cointreau Orange flavor, somewhat bitter
Creme de Almond Almond flavor, very sweet
Creme de Banana Banana flavor, very sweet
Creme de Cacao Chocolate flavor, two colors - brown and white, very sweet
Creme de Kirsch Cherry flavor, very sweet
Creme de Menthe Mint flavor, two colors - green and white, very sweet
Creme de Vanilla Vanilla flavor, very sweet
Drambuie Honey and heather flavors, made in Scotland
Frangelico Hazelnut flavor, made in Italy
Galliano Licorice flavor, with a hint of vanilla, made in Italy
Grand Marnier Orange flavor, made in France
Jagermeister Licorice and rootbeer flavors, made in Germany
Kahlua Coffee flavor from Mexico
Midori Honeydew melon flavor, made in Japan
Ouzo Lemon and licorice flavors, made in France
Rock & Rye Various fruit flavors, very sweet
Rumpleminze Mint flavor, made in Germany - a premium peppermint schnapps
Sabra Chocolate and orange flavors, made in Israel
Sambuca Licorice flavor, made in Italy
Schnapps Many different kinds, with their own flavors, including peppermint, originally from Germany
Slivovitz Plum flavor
Sloe Gin Sloeberry flavor
Southern Comfort Orange and peach flavors, made in the US
Tia Maria Coffee flavor, made in Jamaica
Triple Sec Orange flavor

Bar Equipment

SPEED RACKS OR WELLS: Used to store the most frequently used liquor and mixes. The racks are attached to the front of the main sink and jockey box. Being attached to the front of the sink, they are easy to reach and put back. They greatly increase the bartender’s ability to mix drinks quickly.
SPEED GUN: Used to dispense beverages quickly. It is an electronically operated “cobra-head” gun with a variety of buttons. Depending on what buttons you depress, it will give you the corresponding beverage mix.
SPILL MATS: Used to collect moisture and spillage of liquor and mixes. They are made of rubber and are also where ingredients are poured into drinks.
GARNISH TRAY: Used to conveniently store cherries, orange slices, lime wedges, lemon twists and olives.
BAR STATION: Located behind the bar is a section where all the house liquors are stored. They should be easily reached and readily available at all times. This section is known as the speed rack or well. The types of liquors that are generally stored in this area are the “house brands.” Ninety percent of all drinks are made from the liquor in the speed rack.
BACK BAR: Located behind the Bar Station is a section where the more expensive liquors are kept. Also kept here are those liquors that are not frequently used. If the establishment you are working in does not have a speed rack section, house liquors are usually kept on the upper part of the back bar. The back bar liquors should be (and usually are) grouped together.
FRONT BAR: The top portion of the bar is known as the counter and the back part of the counter that is slightly lowered is known as the rail. All drinks are mixed at the bartender’s station, on the spill mat, and poured into the glass before serving to customers. If drinks are made underneath the bar, customers cannot see what they have ordered or how much liquor they are receiving and may, in some way, feel cheated.
ELECTRIC BLENDER/FLASH BLENDER: The ingredients in some drinks’ such as Brandy Alexanders and Margaritas, need to be thoroughly blended. Blending them in an electric blender is the best method. Other types of blenders are used to make frozen drinks, such as Strawberry Daiquiris and Pina Coladas.
ICE, ICE BUCKET AND SCOOP: There are three kinds of ice: cubed, crushed and shaved. Ice cubes (rocks) are used most often. Crushed ice is sometimes used to make drinks like margaritas to achieve the frozen effect. Shaved ice is ice that has been crushed twice. To avoid running to the refrigerator every time you need ice, keep it in a bucket of some kind. A scoop should be used to handle ice. Never scoop ice with the glass you are using. You’ll risk breaking the glass in the ice.
MEASURING DEVICES: Even the most professional bartenders measure the ingredients of every drink. Experience may permit some to do this by eye and skillful freehand pouring. However, to make a perfect drink every time, measure all ingredients. Many drinks can be spoiled by being too strong or too weak. There are several measuring devices. It is a personal decision as to which one suits you best. A measuring glass cup is marked like those used in cooking. Shot glasses come in various sizes, from 3/4 ounce to 1-1/2 ounces. A stainless steel jigger, double-ended shot glass is convenient. They also come in various sizes.
MIXING CUP- GLASS: Drinks such as Martinis and Manhattans are stirred in the glass mixing cup.
MIXING CUP- METAL: Drinks such as Grasshoppers and Whiskey Sours are blended in the metal mixing cup on a malt shop type of blender. If an electric blender is not available, the metal cup can be used in conjunction with the glass cup to shake drinks.
SPEED POURERS: Professional bartenders use speed pourers to give them control over how fast (or slow) the liquor flows from the bottle.
STRAINER: After blending, stirring or shaking a drink, place the strainer over the mixing cup and strain the mixture into the glass. This prevents ice from being poured in the finished drink.
BAR MUDDLER: Used to “mash” or “muddle” ingredients together for drinks such as the Old Fashioned.
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