Why Your Bar Cart Needs A Spray Bottle

It's all in the rinse.

February 27, 2023
Photo by James Ransom

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If you’ve ever ordered a Sazerac, you might’ve noticed your bartender pour a quarter shot of absinthe into the glass, swish it around, and then dump the liquid into the sink. This isn’t some ceremonious act of wastefulness—it’s a bartending technique called “rinsing” that incorporates the flavor of a strong alcohol into a drink without having it take up any space in the glass.

While the rinse is most ubiquitous with the Sazerac, according to Esquire’s​​ David Wondrich, other applications include rinsing malted Scotch into a Manhattan, mezcal into a margarita, and Campari into a cosmo. Of course, there’s still tons of rinse-based exploration to be done, and we encourage you to try anything that your bartending brain believes in.

Although the traditional method (pouring, swishing, dumping) works fine, thanks to Food52’s resident drinks expert John deBary, we’ve learned a better, cooler way to rinse a cocktail—and all you need is a tiny spray bottle. For John’s preferred method, you’ll pour an ounce of the rinsing spirit into a small (roughly 50ml) spray bottle. Then, instead of pouring, swishing, and dumping, simply give the empty cocktail glass a few sprays and the job is done.

We love this trick for a few reasons. First, it looks fancy, and that alone can transform a simple, homemade drink into something grand. Second, if you plan on making a lot of rinsed cocktails, the convenient spray bottle will save you time and effort. Lastly, the spray bottle will make it easier to rinse the entire inside of the glass.

If you want to see John use the spray bottle himself, he demonstrates the technique in his Tompkins Square Cocktail tutorial, featured below. While you’re there, you might as well make the drink, too (it’s really good—we promise).

Let us know your favorite cocktail rinse in the comments below!

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Paul Hagopian

Written by: Paul Hagopian

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