So you want to learn how to free pour? Learning to free pour can be tricky, but it is a technique that can really speed up your bartending skills. Whether using a jigger or free pouring it is essential for you to have an accurate and consistent pour for every drink.
If you’re pouring to little or too much alcohol into your drinks someone is getting screwed. Either you’re pouring to much alcohol and you’re not charging the customer enough or your pouring too little and the customer isn’t getting what they paid for. Let’s get started.
For all those beginner bartenders- What is a free pour? Free pouring is the act of pouring measured amounts of alcohol into a drink without using an actual measuring device such as a jigger.
What You’ll need to practice the free pour
Before we dive into learning how to free pour let’s first discuss the things you’ll need in order to perfect your pouring method. First never try to free pour without a pour spout!
This is crucial in order to get a steady consistent stream of alcohol. Also many pour spouts pour alcohol at slightly different speeds so it’s important to get a feel for the spouts you’ll be using on a daily basis.
You’ll also need some kind of measuring device in order to measure your pour. A jigger is a common measuring device for bartenders. We suggest getting a jigger with both a 1 1/2 oz. and a 1/2 oz. side. The last thing you’ll need is a bottle filled with water to act as your alcohol. Fitted on top of the bottle is a pour spout of course. Here’s the list:
-Bottle of water (pour spout on top)
How to Free Pour
Free pouring is achieved by using a timed counting system; much like beats in music. Every bartender that free pours has their own personal counting system they prefer and you will too. Here is the general thinking of how it’s done. We will teach you our preferred counting method.
Before you start pouring hold the bottle by the neck and wrap your index finger around the bottom of the pour spout. This prevents the spout from falling out. When you pour you want to hold the bottle almost completely vertical. You want to achieve a steady and consistent pour.
As soon as you start pouring you begin counting like this- “1 and 2 and 3 and 4…” What you are aiming for is for every word you say in your count (including the And’s) is a quarter of an oz. So if you want to pour a shot, which is 1 1/2 oz., you’ll count as follows “1 and 2 and 3 and.” As soon as you reach your last “and” quickly stop pouring.
This may sound difficult but it will get much easier with practice. And you must practice! You will not learn how to free pour by only reading this article. You have to practice in order to learn your own personal rhythm when pouring. Remember you want to develop your count into a consistent rhythm.
This is just like a metronome, with every word in your count being a click. Once you start practicing your count you can check your measurements.
If you poured to little adjust your count by slowing it down a bit. If you poured to much speed your count up. Continue to fine tune your count speed until you get it just right. Then you will know what your personal counting rhythm is. That’s all there is to it!
Learning how to free pour is an essential technique for every bartender. Remember, every bartender’s free pouring technique is different. Some may count to different numbers or at different speeds. What’s important is that you find what works for YOU. Find your personal rhythm through practice.
Here’s your last tip. Don’t just assume you’re rhythm is always right. Once you get good at the free pour it wouldn’t be a bad idea to test your free pour by measuring out the first few drinks you make on a shift. That way you will know your still at the top of your game. By learning how to free pour you’ll be one step closer to being a better bartender.