How to Use A Bar Spoon (Insightful Guide)

how to use a bar spoon
Joe | Last Updated: November 24, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

If you’re looking to become a competent bartender that is capable of creating professional cocktails for guests, you’ll need to get to grips with all of the bar tools.

Whilst some tools may look intimidating at first, most are incredibly simple to use and just require a bit of practice and patience to get the hang of.

Cocktail strainers, shakers, and jiggers will be your best friend when behind the bar, but you’ll need to know how to use a bar spoon if you’re planning on mixing and layering spirits.

The good news is that you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’re going to go through everything you need to know about how to use a bar spoon and answer many questions that relate to this bar tool.

Let’s get into it…

What Are Bar Spoons Used For?

Bar spoons are mainly used for stirring cocktails to combine ingredients that should not be shaken, as well as layering spirits to give the drink a visual effect.

The main goal when stirring a drink is to bring down the temperature of the liquid components which is why stirring is so important.

Bartenders mix room-temperature spirits with ice to ensure the drink reaches perfect dilution levels, as well as ensure the drink reaches optimal temperature.

how to use a bar spoon
Photo by cottonbro studio

The length of the bar spoon ensures that it can reach the bottom of any jug or mixing glass, allowing the bartender to mix the ingredients directly in the glass.

It’s also not uncommon for bartenders to use a bar spoon to measure out ingredients up to 5ml, such as syrups or hot sauce.

Mainly because it looks cooler than a regular teaspoon.

How To Use A Bar Spoon Correctly

As we now know, bar spoons are an essential part of any bartender’s tool set and can be used in a number of ways to mix and layer drinks.

Let’s now look at how to use a bar spoon correctly so that you’re fully confident when the time comes for you to use this tool.

Stirring drinks

Whether you’re a home bartender looking to wow your guests, or a professional working in a busy uptown bar, you’ll find yourself regularly reaching for the bar spoon when serving drinks.

If you want to practice using the bar spoon for stirring drinks, I would recommend grabbing your mixing glass, pouring some water in, and following the steps below.

  1. Before you grab your bar spoon, chill your glass first. Pack your mixing glass full of ice and put it to one side to chill, then when you’re ready to make drinks you can remove the ice and now you have a chilled glass.
  2. Add ice to your mixing glass and fill it halfway. Be sure to use big, blocks of ice cubes, and DO NOT use crushed ice as this will overdilute your drink.
  3. Grab your bar spoon and place it in between your fingers, holding the spoon with your thumb.
  4. Put your spoon into the glass with the back of the spoon facing the glass.
  5. Begin a push-pull motion using your thumb to get into a rhythm. Use your fingers to create this motion, not your arm.
  6. Stir for around 30 seconds for optimal dilution.
  7. This will take some practice, but you’ll begin to stir the drink incredibly smoothly once perfected.

Layering drinks

Some cocktails require ingredients to be layered, so you’ll need to be comfortable with the bar spoon to be able to do this.

Tequila Sunrise, Black Velvet, and B-52 are all cocktails that need to be layered using a bar spoon, so it may be worth practicing to make these beforehand to get comfortable with the bar spoon.

The density of the liquid is important when it comes to layering, so be aware of the amount of sugar and the amount of alcohol in each spirit before proceeding.

Whilst layering cocktails in front of guests may seem intimidating and make you sweat a little, once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll find that it’s really easy.

Below are the steps to layer drinks using a bar spoon.

  1. Start with the liquid that has the most amount of sugar and pour your measurement into your glass first.
  2. Now grab your bar spoon with a flat end and place it just on top of the previous layer.
  3. At the other end of the spoon, begin to pour your second layer (using a bottle pourer) slowly down the stem of the spoon.
  4. As you pour the liquid, it will create a nice layering effect, but be sure to gradually pull the spoon up the glass as more liquid enters.
  5. The last layer should be the liquid with the most alcohol and no sugar.
  6. Voila! You’ve successfully layered your cocktail.

Different Types Of Bar Spoons

The spoon you have is the best spoon you’ve got, but it’s always a good idea to be aware of the many types of bar spoons available in case there’s one that better suits your preference.

American bar spoon

As you might expect, the American bar spoon is the most popular to find in bars and restaurants all over the US.

It can be easily identified by its simple design which includes a twisted handle and a red plastic cap on the end which is used to stop the serving glass from being scratched.

They’re cheap and easy-to-find bar spoons that won’t be much help in layering drinks due to them only being twisted in the middle.

Nevertheless, they’re excellent for mixing drinks and can be found in most bartending supply stores.

American Metalcraft 511K 11" Stainless Steel Twisted Handle Bar Spoon

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10/15/2023 09:26 pm GMT

European bar spoon

The European bar spoon is a sturdier tool and has a bit more elegance to it.

Its design features a twist all the way down the stem unlike the American bar spoon and it has a flat plate on the end.

The flat plate on the end helps bartenders to layer drinks, but it’s also commonly used as a muddler to crush ingredients such as herbs and lime.

It’ll cost you a little more than the American bar spoon but it is more premium and has multiple uses.

Crafthouse by Fortessa Professional Twisted Bar Spoon
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10/16/2023 03:16 am GMT

Japanese bar spoon

The Japanese bar spoon is my favorite of them all as it’s longer and has a design that catches the eye of guests and customers when creating cocktails.

It has a cool design and allows bartenders to mix and layer drinks without having to lean over the bar, which is seen as a sign of disrespect in Japan.

The end of the spoon has a teardrop shape or a fork depending on the spoon, with the fork being used to easily grab garnishes such as olives and lime.

Barfly Standard Bar Spoon
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How Do You Stir Using A Bar Spoon?

When stirring with a bar spoon, you’ll need to ensure that you hold the spoon correctly in between your fingers and use your thumb as leverage to provide the motion.

It’s all about the push-pull motion when using the spoon, so ensure you’ve got the back of the spoon facing the glass and pull down to 6 o’clock then push up to 12 o’clock.

It takes some practice to be able to use the bar spoon like a professional but don’t give up, after a while, you’ll get the knack for it and be able to create a rhythm.

Practice makes perfect with bar spoons, so keep trying and be patient.

Why Do Bar Spoons Have A Twist?

The main reason for the twist in bar spoons is to compliment the stirring motion and provide grip when using the spoon, but it’s also required to layer drinks when making cocktails.

When layering drinks, the bartender will pour the liquid down the stem which creates a nice visual effect for the customer.

Having a twist down the stem of the spoon also makes them much easier to use and requires minimal effort which makes it easier on the bartender’s wrists and hands.

The twist also allows bartenders to make drinks quickly and have more control over the dilution of the drink.

Are Bar Spoons Necessary?

If you’re a bartender of any sort, a bar spoon is a necessary tool that you’ll need to create professional cocktails for your customers or guests.

Many cocktails require a bar spoon to stir them, such as Martinis, Negronis, Sazerac, and more.

Stirring also allows ingredients that blend together to do so, as well as diluting the cocktail which makes it more palatable.

Cocktail shakers are great for some drinks, but not all ingredients can be combined in a shaker, and that’s where the spoon come in.

gin and tonic with bar spoon
Photo by Toni Cuenca

If you plan on layering spirits and creating an eye-catching visual effect, then you’ll need a bar spoon to do this effectively.

Whilst it may seem to some that a bar spoon could simply be replaced with a regular spoon, bar spoons offer multiple functions that make the life of a bartender much easier.

They allow the bartender to serve drinks quickly, easily, and professionally and are therefore a must for any home or commercial bar.

Final Thoughts

The bar spoon is a long-handled spoon that is perfect for mixing and layering drinks, and it can be found in almost every bar around the world.

This cheap bar tool makes the life of a bartender much easier by being able to stir drinks to combine ingredients that shouldn’t be shaken.

Whilst a cocktail shaker can be used for some cocktails, a bar spoon is needed for others.

I hope this guide has taught you more about why a bar spoon is a must-have for any bartender and that you now know how to use a bar spoon correctly and confidently.

Next time it’s your turn to make the cocktails, don’t be afraid to reach for the bar spoon and show off your new skills.

Catch you in the next one!

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