There are two points of inspiration for the invention of the bar spoon.
The bar spoon that we know today wasn’t used by bartenders for drinks until the 19th century. It was modeled after the Sucket spoon, which was used to eat desserts. The spoon was served to the customers along with their drinks so that they could stir and eat the fruit garnish.
The second inspiration, the Mazagran spoon, was created in the 18th century by the French and was used in crushing ingredients for medicine. In the 19th century, its use was furthered to stir beverages and crush sugar cubes.
There are three types of bar spoons that are used in the present, and all three share one feature: The handle of the spoon is almost always twisted. This brings up the question of why bar spoons are twisted.
Why Are Bar Spoons Twisted?
A common question in the bar industry is why designers have chosen to make the handle of the bar spoon twisted, and the answer is that the twist in the bar spoon serves two different purposes.
One of the reasons that bar spoons are twisted is to help the user layer alcohol into a drink. The twist allows the user to pour drinks down the length of the spoon without any splashing or spillage, creating a flow that is slow and smooth; this gives the user more control of the alcohol so that it can float on top of the drink instead of splashing in when being poured.
And it’s not only for layering alcohol. Other liquids, like carbonated mixers, can also be poured down the spiral handle for a fun effect.
And, of course, the twist in the spoon handle also helps with stirring. The twisted feature helps to complement the stirring motion by performing a screw motion that counters the circular stirring so that it is smooth and continuous; it also prevents splashing and diluting of the drink by ensuring that the back end of the spoon is always touching the ice during the process. Because the concave part of the spoon is always pointed inwards, it will travel smoothly along the walls of the glass.
The twisted handle of a bar spoon actually serves a purpose, and it aids bartenders in serving their drinks, no matter which type of spoon they use.
Types of Bar Spoons
There are three common bar spoon styles that are used by bartenders and mixologists today.
The American bar spoon was actually inspired by the German version, which had a fork on the opposite end of the spoon and was used for eating dessert. Over time, this spoon evolved into what is now the American bar spoon.
Out of the different types of bar spoons, the American bar spoon is the simplest. It can hold 5ml of liquid, and typically there is a small red cap at the end of the handle. Because of its simple design, it is often overlooked and is not the most popular of the three main styles.
The European bar spoon actually evolved from the French bar spoon. The purpose of the metal disc at the end of the French spoon was to crush sugar, while the European version used it for layering, muddling, and breaking up the ice.
This style of bar spoon only holds 2.5ml, but because of its small metal disc, it is the second most popular option of the three.
Lastly, there is the Japanese bar spoon, which is by far the most common and popular form of bar spoon because of its elegance. It’s a premium barware piece with a sleek design, and it can hold 2.5mL of liquid. The part that can be used to stir the liquid has a teardrop design, and out of the three options, it is likely the prettiest.
How to Use a Bar Spoon
A bar spoon may seem simple to use, but there is a trick to utilizing it. When used correctly, all the ingredients within the drink can be perfectly mixed.
- When all of the ingredients are in the glass, slip in the spoon. Make sure the spoon is kept along the edge of the glass, between the glass and the ice, so that it doesn’t disturb the drink too much. The back of the spoon should face away from the drink, backed up against the glass.
- The spoon should be held between the ring finger, middle finger, and thumb, and it should be held above the first knuckle.
- In a circular motion, stir the spoon around the edge of the glass. Stir gently, moving the spoon smoothly and not putting too much force into it.
- Stir 30 to 40 times, altering the direction you stir in every few stirs.
It may take some time to perfect this method, but with practice, your technique and speed will improve, and you’ll be using a bar spoon like a professional bartender in no time.