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The 9 Secret Weapons of the Country's Best Bartenders

April 21, 2014

The 9 Secret Weapons of the Country's Best Bartenders

April 21, 2014

The geniuses who mix America’s most inventive drinks have more than just nautically themed tattoos up their sleeves. Whether it’s finding new uses for a twist of orange or tea-bagging a punch (with, uh, actual bags of tea), these tricks will instantly make you craftier with your booze.

By: GQ Editors

Yarai Mixing Glass
Jon Santer
Prizefighter, Berkeley

“There’s a major benefit to using a mixing glass rather than a pint glass to stir drinks. In a conical pint, the cubes stack, so you’re only getting one per layer. But a wide mixing glass allows more ice per layer. More cubes means the drink chills faster, which means less dilution. And you end up with a stronger martini, Negroni, or Manhattan.”

Half-bottles of Carpano Antica Vermouth
Tristan Willey
Swimmers, New York City

“Unless you’re making four Negronis at your place every night, a liter of vermouth is a waste. It oxidizes quickly, so it more or less expires in a few weeks. All the big companies realized this, and they started making half-bottles. They’re brilliant for home.”

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Orange and Lemon Peels
Erik Adkins
The Slanted Door, San Francisco

“Orange and lemon peels as garnish is nothing new, but when you stir them into your drink instead, they add enough oil to change the drink’s texture.”

Bittermens Orange Cream and Citrate
Bobby Heugel
Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston

“This is a nobler cream-soda flavor for your cocktail. It’s a great way to infuse the brightness that would usually come from orange bitters, but the citrate does it without, well, the bitterness.”

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Amaro
Chris Hannah
French 75 Bar, New Orleans

“Amari are full-bodied and add such a pleasing depth to sipping cocktails. I’ll combine an amaro like Averna with vermouth in a stirred boozy drink like a Manhattan, a Bobby Burns, or a Martinez.”

Maggi Seasoning
Toby Maloney
The Violet Hour, Chicago

“Careful—it’s as strong as fish sauce. And it has the same effect on cocktails: It adds umami and a bright fermented funk. I switch Maggi in for Worcestershire in Red Snappers or Bloody Marias.”

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Jasmine Green Tea
Juan Coronado
Barmini, Washington, D.C.

“Put five bags of cheap tea in a large pitcher with a bottle’s worth of white rum. Steep for fifteen minutes. Remove the bags, then add a bottle each of grapefruit juice and St-Germain. I call it the Quintessential. If you don’t like it, send me an invoice. I’ll pay for it.”

Sea Salt
Pip Hanson
Marvel Bar, Minneapolis

“Just a hit of saline solution—three parts water to one part salt. I try a dash in almost every cocktail I make, to see if it helps. It works great in a sour drink like a gimlet. But it even works in Manhattans, where you notice the added complexity.”

Pappy’s Sassafras Tea Concentrate
Jared Schubert
The Monkey Wrench, Louisville

“I use it with almost every aged spirit—whiskey, añejo tequila, rums, and gins. The older the better. Sassafras has a woody quality, with a high note like mint or absinthe. It’s a rock star in a mint julep and brings more depth to a Sazerac. Just a little dash will do you—trust me.”

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