Whether you are a professional bartender or enjoy pouring drinks at home, remembering the ingredients to mixed drinks is one challenge you might face. A bartender has a higher volume of drinks to remember compared with a home host, and screwing up has higher consequences. Bartending school gives all the tools needed to commit mixed drink recipes to memory, but simple proven memory boosters can help anyone.
Make It Mnemonic
Mnemonic devices are one tool to boost your memorization skills and can be used to remember mixed drink elements. These age-old memory techniques help you absorb and recall information when you need it. Some common mnemonic devices that work well are acronyms; visual imagery; information grouped into smaller, manageable pieces; and rhymes and songs that include the drink ingredients you need to remember. As an example, for a margarita you could replace a line of a song or a common nursery rhyme with "tequila, triple sec and lime juice with a salted rim and lime to garnish," to help you remember the ingredients and their proper order.
Mixed drinks require precise information recall, and if you are distracted by a cell phone or caught up doing other things, that isn't going to happen. In a party setting where noisy guests and background chatter are common, visualize the drink ingredients clearly in strong, bright colors and close off your mind to the background noise so that it becomes a dull hum. You will probably have to visualize doing this at first, but with practice you will be able to filter out what you don't want to hear, take orders and mix drinks like a pro every time.
Many bartenders use homemade flashcards as they learn new drinks so that they have a quick way to retrieve the information at a moment's notice. Purchase small cue cards and write the name of the drink on one side and the ingredients and concise instructions on the other. The act of writing this information may help it stick in your mind, and you'll have an easy way to study and test yourself whenever you like.
Do It Your Way
Memorizing information is a highly individual activity, so a technique that someone else uses may not work for you. For people who are visual learners, repeatedly seeing on a flashcard that a Cosmo needs vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and a lemon twist helps it stick in their mind. However, someone who retains information better audibly won't find flashcards as useful and will likely benefit from making a rhyme or song with the ingredients. When you decide to try a particular drink memorization method, stick with it for a good week before abandoning it. Giving up too soon might cause you to miss out on the method that is best for you.