How to Use A Mixing Glass (Cocktail Basics)

how to use a mixing glass
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.

A large part of bartending is to make cocktails for guests, especially if working in a cocktail bar or an establishment with an extensive cocktail menu.

One technique bartenders use when making cocktails is to stir cocktails using a mixing glass, and there’s a good reason why we do this instead of using a regular cocktail shaker.

Shaking cocktails is great for chilling drinks quickly, but it also turns the ice into water, which causes too much dilation for some cocktail recipes.

In this guide, we’re going to walk you through how to use a mixing glass correctly so that the next time you’re making cocktails such as Martinis or Manhattans, you know exactly what to do.

Let’s get to it…

What Is A Mixing Glass Used For?

Bartenders use mixing glasses in the cocktail-making process to create drinks that need to be stirred, as opposed to shaken with a cocktail shaker.

A mixing glass is used together with a bar spoon to cool drinks without diluting them, ensuring that the finished drink does not have too much melted ice inside which can ruin the recipe.

mixing glass

Whilst some drinks need to be mixed in a cocktail shaker, others need to be stirred using a mixing glass to ensure the recipe is followed and the drink tastes how it should.

Drinks that require a mixing glass are often made entirely of spirits, liqueurs, and fortified wines.

>> Read more: 6 BEST Mixing Glasses

How To Use A Mixing Glass

Now that we know the purpose of using this bar tool, it’s important to know how to use a mixing glass correctly so that you’re confident when the time comes to make certain cocktails.

It may seem self-explanatory, but I’ve seen people using mixing glasses completely wrong during my time as a bartender so I want to show you how to use them the right way.

Follow the below steps when using a mixing glass and you’ll master this instrument in no time.

  1. Place the mixing glass directly in front of you on a firm surface
  2. Fill the mixing glass half full with large ice cubes
  3. Add your ingredients to the mixing glass on top of the ice
  4. Take your bar spoon and begin to stir the mixture clockwise for around 15 – 20 seconds
  5. Take your julep cocktail strainer and pour the stirred drink into a serving glass
  6. Garnish and serve

When stirring in a mixing glass, the idea is to try and get a nice smooth movement so that none of the ice is being crushed and diluting the drink.

Be as delicate as you can and ensure that the ice remains intact, allowing the ingredients to run over the ice which chills the drink quickly without diluting the mixture.

The bar spoon should be stirring around the mixing glass and not bashing together with the ice, it’s all about creating fluidity when using a mixing glass to achieve the desired result.

Before you proceed to create cocktails with a mixing glass, it may be wise to practice with ice and water beforehand to get used to using this tool.

This way you’ll be confident when the time comes to make cocktails for your friends or customers, without fear of embarrassment by ruining the drink.

After a couple of times using a mixing glass, you’ll get the hang of it very quickly and find that it’s surprisingly easy to use once you know the correct process.

How Do You Stir In A Mixing Glass?

Once you’ve got your mixing glass loaded with ice and ingredients, you’ll want to learn how to use the bar spoon so that you can master the art of stirring.

First, hold the spoon in between your index and middle finger, gripping it with your thumb, and hold the spoon around two-thirds of the way up the spoon to find the balance point.

Slide the spoon down into the mixing glass with the back of the spoon touching the glass.

how to use a mixing glass

Then it’s the simple process of pulling the bar spoon towards you and pushing it away. A smooth push/pull motion is used when stirring in a mixing glass.

Follow the outside of the glass and start nice and slow, practice pushing and pulling until you get some momentum and then you can increase the speed.

Do You Really Need A Mixing Glass?

If your working as a bartender in a bar or restaurant or simply making cocktails at home, a mixing glass is ESSENTIAL for making professional-grade cocktails that will impress your guests.

A mixing glass is required for certain cocktails that can’t be shaken, therefore, they are a worthwhile investment for those looking to create all types of cocktails.

Alternatives like jugs do work, but mixing glasses are designed purposefully for making cocktails, and their aesthetic looks much better behind a bar.

What Cocktails Do You Need A Mixing Glass For?

As mentioned earlier, most cocktails that are made entirely from spirits will require a mixing glass to create correctly and stop dilution.

Whereas cocktails that involve juices and hard ingredients will require a cocktail shaker instead.

Below are just some of the cocktails that bartenders need a mixing glass to create.

The Different Types Of Mixing Glasses

Traditional mixing glass

The traditional mixing glass often refers to a 16-ounce pint glass that has been used for many years to mix cocktails.

Bartenders may even use one side of a Boston cocktail shaker to mix in if preferred.

These mixing glasses are found in almost every bar across the globe, as they’re just simply regular pint glasses.

Some are reinforced which works better for mixing cocktails as there is less chance of breaking and their design may vary.

Traditional Mixing Glass
$25.27 ($4.21 / Count)
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10/15/2023 06:48 pm GMT

Yarai mixing glass

The Yarai mixing glass is a more modern option that has a much more fitting aesthetic.

These mixing glasses can be found in many modern commercial bars and home bar setups too.

Made in Japan, this mixing glass can be identified by its famous Yarai weave near the bottom of the glass.

Unlike the traditional mixing glass, this option has a larger and heavier base that is not tapered, allowing for faster stirring and fewer spillages.

It also has a curved pour spout that stops the mixture from spilling onto the floor when pouring the cocktail.

If you’re going to opt for a mixing glass, the Yarai is the one I highly recommend.

ABarAbove Classic Style Cocktail Mixing Glass
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10/15/2023 10:31 am GMT

Stemmed mixing glass

The stemmed mixing glass is another option that allows the bartender to stir the drink without their hands ever touching it, preventing heat transfer.

This way, cocktails chill quickly and stay cool for longer, and the glass aesthetic looks better than the traditional mixing glass.

Whilst not as boujee as the Yarai mixing glass, it’s still a good option and fits well behind any bar.

They’re cheap, well-designed, and get the job done.

American Cocktail Mixing Glass
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10/14/2023 05:46 pm GMT

The Takeaway

The mixing glass is a staple bar tool used regularly to create cocktails that need to be stirred and not shaken, and there are quite a lot.

It’s easy to use and works by quickly chilling the drink mixture without over-diluting, most commonly used in cocktail recipes that are entirely spirit-based.

Cocktail shakers are great for some cocktails, but for others, the ice inside smashes together and begins to erode which can mess the ratios up and ruin the drink.

A good bartender will always have a mixing glass on hand and be confident in how and when to use it.

Hopefully, this guide has taught you how to use a mixing glass correctly and provided you with clear instructions on how to practice using this instrument.

As with all bar tools, it’s wise to get confident using the mixing glass by using water, ice, and a bar spoon before you go and attempt to make any real cocktails with it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I’ll catch you in the next one!

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