Tools of the Trade : Elevate your bar program with new equipment.

Tools of the Trade
Photos: Shutterstock/ 5PH

Elevate your bar program with new equipment.

By Ashley Bray

A bartender’s toolkit includes the basics—a shaker, jigger, stirrers, strainers, and the perfect glassware. But what about those extras that make the job easier, lead to faster service, and allow for more innovation? We took a look at some of the tools and equipment bars can bring in-house to make the art of serving up cocktails a little easier.

Gin and Juice

Consumers demand more fresh ingredients in their cocktails, and this has affec ted juices most of all. “There has been a huge uprise for fresh cocktails these last three years,” says Lynn Setlich, Global Sales & Marketing Manager, Sunkist. “Everyone wants fresh from the garnishes to the fresh juice in their cocktails.”

As a result, many bars are now spending a lot of time juicing citrus and other fruits and vegetables. But what if the whole process was made a little easier? Investing in a juicer can be a serious time-saver for bartenders.

One option is Sunkist’s Pro Series Juicer, which features robust capabilities in a small footprint as it is able to extract up to 10 gallons of juice per hour using pre-cut fruit. “This juicer is great for bars because you can have it on all day, but it does not activate until you press the fruit onto the extraction bulb,” says Setlich.

Sunkist says bars most commonly juice citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. The Pro Series Juicer offers the option of juicing a large batch ahead of a shift, but the juice shouldn’t be stored for longer than a day in the refrigerator. Bartenders can also opt to juice on demand as needed for each cocktail. “One of the things the bartenders are really liking about the new Pro Series Juicer is how easy it is to juice a piece of fruit really fast for the cocktail, but many of our customers juice ahead as well,” says Setlich.

Breville also offers a way for bartenders to save on all that juicing labor with its Juice Fountain Cold XL machine, which can juice all kinds of fruits and vegetables so fresh juice is always available for cocktails. The machine has an extra-wide shoot for whole fruits and vegetables, a “quiet” mode, and it can juice up to 70 fluid ouces of juice into its jug, which keeps fresh for three days.

The Breville Citrus Press is another great option for bars that juice a lot of citrus fruits. The press extracts juice from the smallest lime to the largest grapefruit with the patented Quadra-Fin™ acid-resistant cone. The press’ Quadra-Fin juicing cone and fruit dome provide grip and pressure to maximize juice extraction. The machine can even be operated with one hand thanks to its active-arm press with a power-assisted lever—making the juicing process even easier. The Breville Citrus Press allows bartenders to juice on demand as required or to batch larger amounts ahead of time.

Fresh juice isn’t the only thing in demand behind the bar—perfectly fresh garnishes also play a big role.

Sunkist offers its Pro Series Sectionizer, which takes the knife out of bartenders’ hands and makes quick work of wedging, slicing, coring, or halving fruits and vegetables into uniform pieces. “We find that many of our customers do seasonal cocktails,” says Setlich. “With the sectionizer, the garnishes in and out of the drinks are commonly oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries, tomatoes, apples, pears, peppers, kiwi, and seasonally mangoes and melons.”

Aside from being a safer way to produce fruit garnishes, the uniformity also ensures the perfect cocktail presentation every time, which is important in our Instagram-obsessed culture. The Pro Series Sectionizer also creates garnishes that are ready to be put onto glasses. “One of the biggest advantages to the Pro Series sectionizer is the ability to flip your fruit over and have a natural spread to garnish the cocktail glass,” says Setlich. “This eliminates the need to take a knife and cut a slit into the fruit.”

Photo: PolyScience.

Up in Smoke

There’s a saying that presentation is everything, and if a bar is looking to
up its theatrics—not to mention incorporate new flavors and aromas into its cocktails—they should consider investing in a smoker.

The Smoking Gun® Pro from Breville’s PolyScience division produces cold smoke, which allows it to add smoky flavors and aromas to any kind of food or liquid. The Smoking Gun Pro works with a variety of combustibles, including various wood chips, teas, herbs, spices, hay, and even dried flowers. “You can use dried citrus peels, chopped up vanilla beans, anything that will burn,” explains David Pietranczyk, Culinary Support Manager PolyScience Culinary, Breville. “It’s a very creative tool.”

In addition, the return on investment on the Smoking Gun Pro is fast. “The cost to add this to a drink that’s already on your menu is nominal,” says Pietranczyk. “You can also pad two, three, four extra dollars into the cost of that food item or beverage because of the theater that it provides and also the flavor and aroma it adds.”

Since the Smoking Gun Pro is a mobile, handheld device, it allows bartenders to smoke cocktails tableside, behind the bar, or wherever they see fit. Pietranczyk says there are three main techniques for smoking cocktails.

To smoke shaken drinks, bartenders can blow smoke directly into the shaker. “You fill the cocktail shaker with smoke, shake it up, pour it out, and you’re done,” says Pietranczyk. “The shaking, the aeration, really incorporates smoke quickly. What we’ve found is that the smoke flavor will actually bloom as the cocktail sits.”

For stirred cocktails, bartenders can make use of a decanter. Bartenders build the cocktail, pour it into a decanter, fill it with smoke, then present it in front of the customer in the decanter before pouring the cocktail into a glass. This technique lends itself especially to tableside presentations.

Photos: PolyScience.

The third technique can be used for either shaken or stirred cocktails, and it involves smoking the glass. Bartenders fill a glass with smoke, invert it on top of a coaster, walk the glass to the customer, and then flip over the glass so that the smoke is released before pouring in the cocktail. “It looks cool, but the smoke has actually coated the interior of the glass,” says Pietranczyk. “When the alcohol hits it, it does strip a lot of that smoke from the glass, so it’s subtler than the other two methods, but it is effective.”

In addition to cocktails, the device can also be used to smoke syrups, spirits, and even food items like the small bites bars often serve. For example, Pietranczyk gave the example of a bar that transforms its deviled eggs by smoking the yolk mixture.

Immersed in the Experience

For those bars looking for a truly unique tool, consider a sous vide immersion circulator. Sous vide cooking refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a plastic pouch or glass jar and cooking it in a temperature-controlled water bath. Breville’s PolyScience division offers a few different options, but each one equips bartenders with the power to infuse everything from spirits to syrups to even garnishes—all incredibly fast.

“Using sous vide—because you’re vacuum-sealing the alcohol—the food product, all of the alcohol content, all of the aromas and bottled flavors don’t evaporate off over time. So you get no loss of volatile alcohol content,” explains Pietranczyk, who says depending on what is being infused, the process can be as fast as 30 minutes or as long as 24 hours if you’re looking to achieve a result like a barrel-aged cocktail.

As a general rule when infusing spirits, infusing at a lower temperature will result in a brighter flavor, and infusing at a higher temperature results in a more intense, flavor-forward spirit.

Thinking Outside the Bar

There are the everyday tools aimed at increasing efficiency and saving time and money, and then there are the tools aimed at providing an unforgettable experience for both guests and bartenders. Many of these tools require a hefty up-front investment (think thousands), and they are used by some of the bars pushing the limits of cocktail culture, such as The Aviary in Chicago.

The Anti Griddle® from Breville’s PolyScience division, which allows for flash freezing, is one such tool. “The anti-griddle is a very cold freeze plate that freezes so fast that it happens unidirectionally,” says Pietranczyk.

The Anti Griddle can be used to create very unique garnishes in different shapes. It can also be used to create garnishes that can be frozen on just the bottom and liquid on top, or frozen on either side and liquid in the middle.

Other tools from Breville’s PolyScience division include the Sonicprep™ ultrasonic homogenizer, a soundproof box that emits ultrasonic sound waves to extract, infuse, homogenize, emulsify, suspend, de-gas, or even rapidly create barrel-aged flavor. The Rotary Vacuum Evaporation System allows bartenders to evaporate, distill, separate, and purify liquids to capture bright, nuanced flavors.

Whether a bar is looking to bring in a workhorse that will save time and money like a commercial-grade juicer, or something more distinctive to help set the bar’s program apart like a sous vide immersion circulator, owners shouldn’t be afraid to invest in new equipment. It may be just the thing that will help them to elevate the cocktails and the experience they provide.

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