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Basic Bartending Techniques

Build - Pour one on top of the other, allowing them to mix.  

Most highball drinks are made this way.  For example, for a Rum and Coke, you would put ice in the glass, add the rum, then add the coke.  The carbonation in the soda allows it to mix naturally.  You always add the liquor first, followed by the mixer.

Another example is a Tequila Sunrise.  Fill the glass with ice, add the tequila, fill almost to the top with orange juice, then top with grenadine.  This gives the drink it's "sunrise" appearance.  There's no special pouring technique as there is with layering, but the order is often important.

Blend - Add the ingredients with ice into a blender and blend until smooth.  This takes practice to get right.  Too much ice and the drink seems weak, too little and it seems runny.  Usually, the liquids should fill about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the ice (if the blender is full with ice, then the liquids should reach to about 1/2 or 2/3)

Shake - This requires a cocktail shaker, also referred to as a "Boston" shaker.  You can use the type that come with a lid for a more elegant appearance, or you can use the metal mixing cup / pint glass combo for more speed and flexibility. 

Fill the shaker with ice, then add the ingredients.  Shake (away from your guests to avoid a tip eliminating accident) and then pour into a glass.  Typically drinks that are shaken are also strained.

Stir - Fill a large glass (typically a pint glass) with ice, add the ingredients, stir with a bar spoon, and pour or strain into the final glass.

Strain - After shaking or stirring, straining simply means to pour the liquid, leaving the ice.  This prevents the drink from becoming diluted over time.  Classic examples of this include the Martini and the Cosmopolitan.

Layer - This takes practice to do properly.  By gently placing one liqueur on top of another you can create a layered effect where the liqueurs don't mix.  To do this, you can tilt the glass and slowly pour one liquor on top of another, or you can pour over the back of a spoon as well.  Either way, the liquor on top has to be less dense than the liquor on the bottom or they won't stay separate.