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What Are the Best Tips for Liquor Pouring?

B. Miller
B. Miller

Pouring accurate drinks or shots without the aid of a measuring device takes practice, but the best bartenders will learn how to do this perfectly every time. This not only translates to better, faster drinks, but also more profit for the bar, and less wasted liquor, which is always preferable. The most often recommended way for liquor pouring is the counting method, in which the person pouring the liquor will flip the bottle over, count to four, and then immediately flip it back up. Important to note is that this can only be done if the bottle has a spout attached; never try this with simply an open bottle!

Remember that liquor pouring takes practice, and until an individual gets it down, there are different ways to measure drinks. A jigger is a shot glass type gadget that is used to measure liquor to ensure the shots are accurate. Other pourers that attach to the bottle are designed to pour out one one-ounce shot and then stop pouring, but these don't always work particularly well. In general, any bartender who is capable of eyeballing the correct amount when liquor pouring will do better than someone who has to stop and measure.

A metal jigger, used to measure alcohol.
A metal jigger, used to measure alcohol.

Pourers that attach to the mouth of the bottle are typically designed to release between one-fourth and one-half of an ounce per second. So, counting to four while pouring will lead to a perfect one- or two-ounce shot. It is important to count each second, as in "one thousand one, one thousand two," and so on. Simply counting "one, two, three, four" will not be correct unless an individual counts particularly slowly. The speed with which the liquor pouring takes place is important as well, to ensure the amount dispensed is correct.

Shots can be poured accurately bu using a jigger.
Shots can be poured accurately bu using a jigger.

The liquor bottle should immediately be flipped upside down to pour, nearly straight up and down, and then immediately flipped upright when the count is finished; any hesitation will throw off the measurement. Some bartenders will also twist the bottle simultaneously to prevent any other drops of liquid from coming out, as when pouring wine. All of these liquor pouring techniques take practice to get exactly right, but with continued effort it will become much easier, and will make the entire bartending process much easier and faster. Once an individual has mastered this, there are numerous other tips and tricks that can be used to impress other people when pouring shots and other mixed drinks.

Discussion Comments


I love it when someone has tricks for pouring drinks. I've had some friends learn them, just so they could impress people at parties. One of them even managed to get to the point where he could flip a bottle over his arm. Although that took a lot of practice and a few broken bottles!

Personally, I have no idea how to do any kind of proper liquor pouring, but I think it's a good idea to know a bit about it.

If nothing else, because it would make it easier to tell if the bartender was doing it right!


The trick to twist after pouring is a really good one. One of my friends worked for a catering company for a while as a waiter, and he showed me how to do it (not that it's hard!)

It is really important at formal dinners, because if you don't twist the bottle at the end of the pour, it will drip down the side and stain the table cloth. And often the table cloth will be something precious to the host.

Plus it looks cool if you get it right.

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    • A metal jigger, used to measure alcohol.
      By: karandaev
      A metal jigger, used to measure alcohol.
    • Shots can be poured accurately bu using a jigger.
      By: Ahileos
      Shots can be poured accurately bu using a jigger.