Watching a bartender work with a bar spoon is entrancing — ice swirls and glides around the mixing glass as the bar spoon leads, performing a dance not unlike a gold medal-worthy figure skating duet. But once the choreography is over, it may be hard to see why such an odd, unicorn horn-shaped tool has become such an essential tool for craft bartenders across the world. For Kaitlyn Stewart, the 2017 World Class Bartender of the Year and personality behind popular TikTok account @likeablecocktails, the spiral doesn’t just add to the dance and pizzaz of classical bartending — it adds to the tool’s practicality and ergonomic appeal.
“Some people are better at the razzle dazzle, where they can spin their bar spoon between their fingers and make an ordinary stirred cocktail that has that extra fancy presentation factor,” says Stewart. “But all of that isn’t necessary.”
The primary reason why bar spoons are spiraled is because it makes them so much easier to use — the shape making them smoother, faster, and gentler on the wrists and hands. In turn, this allows bartenders to make drinks much quicker, with more control over the amount of dilution in the drink from ice.
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While that is the most simple answer, there are many other bartender tricks that spiraled spoons help with, making more complicated cocktails more accessible. Stewart recently had a video go viral on TikTok explaining how spiraled bar spoons can also be used when adding soda and other mixers to cocktails. Pouring soda down the spirals of a bar spoon allows bubbles to attach to the metal and enter spirits much more gracefully without fizzing over, thus maintaining that satisfying carbonation.
“It works like a dipstick in a car — you pour oil down the dipstick, and it will stick to it,” says Stewart. “It’s that same vibe, where the bubbles will attach to the spoon without breaking so you don’t lose your carbonation.”
@likeablecocktails Party Tricks are the Best Tricks #drinktok #cocktailtiktok #mixologytiktok #bartendersoftiktok #bartender #barspoon ♬ It’s My House – Diana Ross
The same method applies when working on layered cocktails like Mai Tais or White Russians. Pouring different liquids down the twists of a bar spoon allows each layer to float on top of the denser layer below it.
But while the classic spiraled bar spoon is a useful tool, Stewart says that they are not necessarily vital. During her career, Stewart has faced many situations in which not all of her regular tools were readily available — even finding metal chopsticks do be a great substitute.
“Sometimes, you have to be creative,” Stewart says. “But having a proper bar spoon in your pack is never a bad thing.”