Introduction to Bartending
Bartending and mixing occurred during the prohibition of 1920's. Since industrial manufacture of alcohol was stopped, many people were trying to produce their own liquor. Obviously, homemade alcohol's quality leaved much to be desired, so bartenders started to mix it with soda, fruit juices, flavored syrups, eggs, spices, wine and sugar to make them at least drinkable.
Originally mixed drinks had a very simple formula - base alcohol plus mixer like soda or fruit juice; Sometimes a third ingredient like grenadine or bitters was added. That is why most classic cocktails, like the martini, consist only of two or three ingredients and a simple garnish.
Even though mixed drinks have become more complex and sweet, and now require more ingredients, the equipment for preparing them still remains the same. Not counting glassware, only the cocktail shaker and the bar-spoon are two most essential pieces of equipment every bartender must have.
There are two types of shakers: the European Shaker, which is about half a liter in volume and is made of either glass or metal, and the Boston (American) Shaker, which consists of a metal cup and a glass cup. The European shaker is easier to use and easier to clean, but a little less impressive. You just take the shaker's top off, put in the ingredients, put the top back on and mix the drink. Since the Boston shaker doesn't have a top, it's a bit more complicated to use. You just combine the ingredients in the glass and then cap it with the metal cup. As you shake the drink, ice will seal together the two parts of the shaker.
There are many things the bar spoon is used for. Firstly, you can use the twisted handle to slowly pour alcohol when making a layered drink; use the back of the spoon to quickly float ingredients. The stem is very good for stirring drinks. You can also pick up garnishes without touching them with the spoon portion; this is actually required for professional bartenders in some states. The spoon portion is also can be used for crushing things like mint and sugar together.
You should also check out "Glassware" and "Terminology" articles for full information on bartending basics.