A skilled and experienced bartender

I’m just browsing through the very small guide to mixing drinks, a guide intended for those working behind the bar. It’s  ‘Professional Mixing Guide’ and my edition was published in 1951, but there were previous editions from the company of Angostura Bitters from 1947.. As well as recipes for every cocktail imaginable there is a section on hints and tips, beginning with “the capable bartender’s watchwords – proficiency, courtesy, appearance.”  There follows instructions which the writer patently expects “a skilled and experienced bartender” to know:

  • measuring ingredients – the aforementioned skilled and experienced bartender may be able to judge his proportions by eye. But if in doubt use a jigger
  • use good ingredients only
  • the length of time a drink is stirred is important, for the ice is melting all the time
  • always follow a recipe accurately
  • use correct glassware
  • glassware should be more than clean; it should sparkle
  • cocktail glasses should be chilled before using
  • Collins glasses or glasses for any other drink containing citrus fruits should be washed separately from beer glasses
  • beer pipes should be kept clean
  • carbonated water should never be stirred vigorously
  • set-ups are never as satisfactory as freshly prepared drinks
  • when a recipe calls for frosting the rim of the glass, moisten the rim lightly and then dip it in a saucer of fine granulated sugar

The last in the list is reminiscent of so many films and old books with people (nearly always men) who need a pick-me-up, either from a barman or a butler:

  • A half-ounce of Angostura aromatic bitters in a glass half filled with plain or carbonated water is one of the most effective helps for the morning-after jitters. Some prefer it with a little Lemon juice, and some like a bit of sweetness added. As a reconditioner for an abused stomach, there’s nothing like Angostura aromatic bitter.

What a lovely phrase, a reconditioner for an abused stomach!

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