I love knifes.
At one point I had a sizeable collection and that fascination will probably never leave me. Many of my friends, share that passion. And professional cooks tend to be the worst.
For making drinks a good knife is essential. Lime wedges, lemon twists, citrus oils, etc. There’s probably a gadget invented for each of those things, but if you don’t want your bar (or house) cluttered with paraphernalia, a good sharp knife is what you want.
When I moved to Canada from Brazil, I was forced to abandon many of my knifes, and had to adopt a minimalist approach to my wares.
The following are simply guidelines about the type of knife that works best for me behind the bar. I encourage you to go out and try a few for yourself to see what works for you:
1. You only need one knife. It makes it easy to organize, clean and you always know where it is, because you’re always using it.
2. Size does matter: too big is annoying and clumsy, too small won’t cut it (literally), it’s a waste of energy. For me a paring knife about 3″ to 3.5″ is just perfect. Not serrated, I like clean sharp cuts.
3. Look for an ergonomic grip, that fits right into the valley of your hand, and that allows you to put your pointer on top of the blade without effort. A better grip allows faster, more precise cuts. You won’t be chopping anything, but you’ll probably be wedging a ton of lemons and limes.
4. No ceramics! Ceramic knives are widely available, pretty, don’t get dull, and come in bar kits and whatnot. But they are extremely brittle, and your hands will be wet and slippery. Your knife breaking or (worse) chipping near your ice or fruits can ruin a shift/party. You’re going to have to throw it all out and start from scratch, because the last thing you want is your guests accidentally swallowing a piece of ceramic.
Try to Invest in a good maker. Dollar store knifes lose their edge very quickly. But you probably don’t need a $300 Japanese sword steel knife either (although they look great). I find that most knives around the $20-$50 mark will probably last you a long time, maybe even a lifetime.
Here are a three good examples, in an affordable range:
As with any skill, the more you use your knife the better it will get. Ultimately you won’t even have to look at what you’re doing to get the most consistent wedges and twists.