May You Be in Heaven a Full Half Hour Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
So as I'm an artist, I like to drink. As an artist during a recession, however, I am also dirt poor. But, as fortune would have it, I have landed the perfect job for any starving artist: I'm a bartender.
I've found a way to combine my two loves. A love of creating and a love of booze. Mixing drinks is alchemy, turning strange concoctions into pure gold. And as much as bartending is a service job, it's a vanity game as well. Boasts of "Best Margarita" or "Perfect Long Island"1 are commonplace. So, like any vanity contest, looks matter. With the right equipment, you can maximize your drink's flavor and appearance.
Your most important tool is your shaker. The shaker is the bartender's easel. Shake a proper martini2 and you can even freeze the drink in your hand. The best shakers are metal with a detachable strainer and a lid, usually with a shot glass on top. There are cheaper, plastic shakers as well, but they can't do as good a job.
1. cocktail glass
Next, you need proper glassware. This all depends on your drink of choice.
Basically, if you're setting up your own bar and you and your friends are Cosmopolitan drinkers3, you'll want to stock up on cocktail glasses (what most people know as martini glasses) and probably not have much use for highball glasses, which would suit a drink like a Manhattan4 or a Screwdriver5 better.
Or, if wine is your weakness,6 the right type of wineglass will depend on whether you drink red or white wine. Beer7 is best in a pint glass or a pilsner, all depending on which you like better aesthetically and how much you want to drink. (Personally, I prefer lighter beers in the larger pilsner glass and darker beers in a pint glass.) If you perfer Jager Bombs8 or other shot drinks, you'll need a shooter glass and a shot glass.
Now, a great drink can be ruined by a lack of garnish. Vodka martinis9 are nothing without the saltiness of an olive, just like cherries can make a good Manhattan into a great one. Limes are generally used more than lemons, and always keep plenty of sword toothpicks10 on hand.
Another important, but often over-looked, tool is the towel.11 Bartending is wet, slinging bottles and ice and constantly spilling and wiping. A towel will be your best friend if you don't want to drop that $230 bottle of whiskey.12
The most important element of all of this is, of course, the alcohol you use. Just as every artist has a favorite paintbrush or blowtorch or set of pliers, every person has their favorite brand. This is all about finding what you like the most. And, if you find out that you prefer the cheap vodka over one of the pricier, top-shelf bottles, then good on ya. You'll get just as drunk and get a few more bucks in your pocket as well. And what artist can't use both of those things every now and then.
1. In a pint glass, over ice, combine 1 1/4 shot of gin, 1 1/4 shot of vodka, 1 1/4 shot of rum, 1 1/4 shot of triple sec, a splash of sweet and sour, and a splash of cola. Garnish with a lemon wedge and a straw.