Types of Bar Spoons for Mixing Cocktails
We all know of James Bond’s preference for a shaken martini, but a true martini recipe requires stirring. When it comes to stirring drinks, there are 3 main types of bar spoon to choose from; European, American and Japanese.
The 3 Types of Bar Spoon:
- European Bar Spoon
- American Bar Spoon
- Japanese Bar Spoon
While there are many variations on the bar spoon, the 3 prevalent types are European, American and Japanese. These 3 types of bar spoon each have the same long, twisted shaft, with the main notable difference being the tip.
|European Bar Spoon||American Bar Spoon||Japanese Bar Spoon|
Here we will look at what defines a bar spoon, and then take a closer look at the 3 main types of bar spoon.
What is a Bar Spoon?
Leaving no surprises, a bar spoon is a spoon used in mixology to stir cocktails. An essential part of any bar, a bartender’s tool kit isn’t complete without one. A bar spoon mixes drinks either in a drinking glass, or in a mixing glass.
The main characteristic of bar spoons that separates them from other spoons is the twisted stem. This corkscrew design aids stirring, and is also used for layering cocktails.
By placing the nozzle of a pourer against the twisted shaft, the liquor can travel down the channel and reach the bottom without splashing. This is essential for drinks with layers that start at the bottom of a long glass.
If a drink only needs a layer added to the top, then you can simply use the head of the spoon. Place the head of the spoon upside-down over the drink and slowly pour your liquor on the curve of the spoon. This allows the liquor to easily spread out.
The correct way to use a bar spoon is to rotate the spoon between your fingers as you move it around the mixing glass. The twisted stem lets your fingers rotate the spoon more efficiently.
As in all mixology, dilution isn’t ideal as it affects the taste of the cocktail. When stirring a drink it is important to not be too vigorous so as not to bash ice cubes and create any ice chunks. Professional mixologists aim to stir silently.
Similar to a teaspoon, the head of a bar spoon is widely considered to hold 5ml of liquid. This is ideal for adding smaller measures of ingredients such as syrups to cocktails. This 5ml measure isn’t consistently accurate across all bar spoons, so if you want to achieve accuracy we recommend using a proper measure.
The European bar spoon is characterised by a flat disc on the tip. This disc is used as a muddler and to layer drinks.
The flat disc can crush soft ingredients such as soft fruits, or sugar cubes. However, this spoon is no substitute for a proper cocktail muddler.
Due to the spoon consisting of 2 parts, it does make it slightly weaker than a heavyweight, one-piece muddler. As such, its use as a muddler is best limited to soft ingredients that only need bruising.
Used in conjunction with the twisted stem, the flat disc helps layer drinks in tall glasses. When liquor gets poured on to the twist, it travels down the shaft and lands on the disc. This lets the liquor settle and spread before landing on top of the layer below, reducing the impact and letting it layer more effectively.
Image courtesy of barstuff.com
Regarded by many mixologists as a very basic spoon, the American style of bar spoon is recognisable due to a coloured rubber cap. This cap is often coloured red and is is simply there to cover the tip and protect bartenders hands.
The twist in the shaft of an American bar spoon is only in a section in the middle. This gives a bartender the option to rotate the spoon, but because of the flat surface either side it removes the opportunity to layer a cocktail.
The American bar spoon provides a cheap and functional spoon for stirring.
The Japanese bar spoon gives an elegant appearance, while offering a practical bar tool to achieve the perfect drink.
Chivas Global Brand Ambassador, Max Warner, identified the four Ps of Japanese bartending. At the Chivas Masters UK Final 2017 he stated that Japanese mixology boils down to “Pristine, Process, Precision and Politeness”. The Japanese style of bar spoon represents this with an elongated elegance.
Usually longer than the European and American bar spoons, a Japanese bar spoon can measure up to 40cm/16 inches. This gives a stunning sense of theatrics as the spoon towers above the mixing glass.
Most commonly associated with the Japanese bar spoon is the beautiful rounded teardrop shape tip. As well as an elegant appearance, this larger tip gives more weight for a better centre of gravity when stirring.
Japanese bar spoons will sometimes have a fork on the tip. This offers the highly practical opportunity to stab solid ingredients ready for muddling.
This forked end will of course pierce anything it picks up, so is not recommended for picking up garnishes for presentation purposes.