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Party 101: 10 Tips for Bartending Like a Pro

Whether you’re looking for essential mixing and serving tools or want to wow your guests a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail, here are 10 tricks for bartending like a pro.

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Bartending Tips From a Professional Mixologist

Erica Verges, a bartender at Paper Plane, one of Atlanta’s hottest nightspots, shares her tips for mixing up cocktails that both look and taste better.

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Shake Like a Pro

Cocktail shakers are used strictly for drinks composed of alcohol and juice (the exception to the rule being a stinger). To use a shaker, just remove the cap, add ingredients, then fill to the top with ice. Replace the cap, which creates a vacuum seal, and shake for 15 seconds. To break the seal, tap the middle of the shaker with your wrist. When you hear a pop, remove the cap, and strain and pour your cocktail into a glass.

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5 Essential Tools

There are five essential tools that every bartender should have: jiggers, strainers, stirrers, muddlers and fruit peelers. A muddler (far left) is used to muddle herbs and fruits before adding them to drinks. Stirrers (set of three, to the right of the muddler) are long spoons with twisted stems which allow you to thoroughly mix drinks in tall glassess. A julep strainer (top center) is used for stirred drinks while a Hawthorne strainer (right of julep strainer) is used for shaken drinks. Jiggers (set of two, top right) are used for measuring liquid in ounces. All-purpose strainers (below jiggers) are used for hot drinks and tea-based creations. Lastly, fruit peelers (middle center and bottom right) are needed for creating fresh garnishes -- the colorful finishing touch to any pro-looking cocktail.

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Fresh Fruit: Yes. Storebought Mixers: No.

Ever wonder why drinks made by the pros taste so fresh? A lot of it has to do with the fruit. Skip prepackaged sour mix and instead stick with fresh grapefruits, limes, lemons and oranges. In addition to fresh squeezed juices and garnishes, the pros also rub citrus along the rims of glasses for an extra hint of fresh flavor.

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