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by Andrew Ruth | photos by Keith Borgmeyer
My name is Andrew Ruth, bar manager at Barred Owl Butcher & Table. We’re a butcher shop, restaurant, and cocktail bar inspired by Missouri’s beautiful and bountiful ingredients. Our whole-animal philosophy and from-scratch approach permeates our food and cocktail menu, culminating in the most delicious food and libations I’ve ever tasted.
Cocktails are my passion, not just my job, and our comprehensive bar is the pinnacle of my career as a professional bartender. I hope to teach you a little bit about cocktail making and show that creating your own drinks can be both simple and highly rewarding.
Jigger — We use OXO and Viski Japanese-style.
16-ounce mixing glass — One half of the classic Boston shaker.
28-ounce mixing tin — The other half of the Boston shaker.
Bar spoon — I prefer a 12-inch Hiware.
Peeler and channel knife — A must for peels and twists.
Paring knife — Keep it sharp!
Hawthorne strainer and julep strainer — You can also use the julep strainer as a scoop for olives, cherries, or crushed ice.
Handheld citrus press.
Ice molds — large spheres and cubes make your home bar legendary.
The rule of thumb is to shake when using fruit juice, dairy, or eggs (like in daiquiris, pisco sours, chocolate martinis, etc.) and to stir when making drinks consisting of entirely booze, like martinis and Manhattans. Purists will tell you that a proper martini is stirred, and they wouldn’t be wrong, but drinking is about what you like. If you like your martini shaken, then shake it like James Bond commands.
Measure your ingredients into the mixing glass and add ice. Place the mixing tin over the glass and give the bottom of the mixing tin a tap to create a seal, and shake it like you mean it for 15 to 20 seconds. This is the fun part and the perfect opportunity for you to develop your own shake. With the mixing glass pointed at the ceiling, tap the edges of the shaker until it loosens, and then use the Hawthorne strainer to strain the drink from the mixing tin into your desired glass.
Build your drink the same way and add ice. This time, place your bar spoon down the side of the glass and, with the back of the spoon on the edge, stir for 30 to 40 seconds (dilution takes longer than a shaken drink). I recommend a quick YouTube video to see proper stirring technique. Most pros use a julep strainer to strain out of a mixing glass, but a Hawthorne will work just fine.
The best cocktails in the world — old-fashioneds, Manhattans, daiquiris, sidecars, margaritas, negronis, and so many more — typically consist of three ingredients. I want to show you two of my favorites. You’ll see how simply subbing ingredients can make something new and exciting.
2 ½ ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
¼ ounce demerara syrup (1:1 turbinado sugar to water)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir ingredients with ice for about 10 seconds and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange peel for bourbon and a lemon peel for rye. Peel over the glass to express the zest or run the outside of the peel around the edge of the glass.
An old-fashioned is one of my favorite drinks, but it’s often overcomplicated. The classic recipe is simply spirit, sugar, and bitters. Try this drink with Mezcal, agave nectar, and mole bitters, or just play around and try an old-fashioned ratio with any spirit, sweetener, and bitter until you find your favorite.
2 ounces rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
Build and shake drink for about 30 seconds. Strain into a martini or coupe glass and garnish with a lime wheel.
A well-made daiquiri is nothing short of perfection. I recommend light rum to start, but using interesting aged rums, agricoles, or spiced rums can make this drink unique, complex, and delicious.
This daiquiri recipe falls in the “sour” cocktail family, and any number of substitutions can make another great drink. Gin instead of rum makes a gimlet. Brandy, lemon juice, and Cointreau make a sidecar. Tequila, lime, and Cointreau make a margarita. A personal favorite is bourbon, honey syrup, and lemon. You can try a dash of your favorite bitters to add complexity, or add club soda in a larger glass for a refreshing sling. My point here is that this singular ratio can change your cocktail — experiment!