“Making cocktails is a lot more like baking than it is like cooking.” I hear this all the time from bartenders, the point being that precise measurement is vital to making balanced drinks. A bit too much citrus, too little vermouth, and your finely crafted, expensive cocktail isn’t is as good as it should be. This is why we encourage bartenders and home mixologists to use a jigger. It’s more consistent and delivers better results than “free-pouring” as the bartending academies instruct.
That is how one of my favorite bartenders and bar bloggers starts a new post today that challenges us all to really take drinks to the ultimate level of consistency and quality. Jacob notes that volumetric measurements are problematic, especially the very small measures used in such things as dashes. The solution that people who care about results use when baking is to use a scale.
Go read the whole thing at Jacob’s site. I will note that one reason for measuring the mass of ingredients instead of volume in baking has to do with the compressibility of powdered ingredients like flour. Now, I don’t have a lot of flour-based recipes in my repertoire, but I would not put it past some of our more creative artistes. And more to the point, the real problem in cocktails comes with the smallest of ingredient amounts, such as dashes or drops. If you can’t even count on one bottle of Angostura to the next delivering the same amount in a dash, imagine from one brand to the next. A high-quality digital scale is the answer to this issue!
I will note that the OXO scale shown in Jacob’s picture is not up to the task that he himself lays out for measuring such amounts as .666g of bitters, as it is accurate only to the whole gram. The PeguWife and I have a retired Olympic scale that was first used for weighing the shoes of beach volleyball players. It is sensitive to the thousandth of the gram, so it wasn’t precise enough for the outfits….
Since a scale like ours is in limited supply, I’d suggest something like this Ohaus Scout Pro Portable Scale for professional bars, as it appears to be robust enough to handle the rough, wet environment. It is a bit expensive, but only two ought to be enough for most any bar. For the home, I’d suggest something cheaper, like this American Weigh Gemini.
I’m excited by this whole new world of precision in my cocktails, and I expect to see scales in use all over on the next calendar year! It really isn’t that much more exacting effort to use this system. Let’s hope everyone starts expecting this, so the people who do will get exactly the drink they deserve.