How to Use a Speed Pourer

How to Use a Speed Pourer for Mixed Drinks and Cocktails
The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

A speed pourer is a stainless steel or plastic spout that is inserted into the most often used liquor bottles in a bar. It offers precise control when pouring alcohol into a glass or cocktail shaker.

These pour spouts come in a variety of styles and are essential tools for professional bartenders. They're also a nice addition to home bars, particularly when serving cocktails at parties. There are some tips and tricks that you can use to get the most out of your bar's speed pourers while ensuring your liquor stays fresh.

What Is a Speed Pourer?

Also called a liquor pourer or pour spout, a speed pourer is designed to fit into the neck of standard 750-milliliter liquor bottles (many do not fit liters). It's secured by a series of plastic or rubber fins (often called the cork) that grab onto the interior glass. Inside the bottle is a short tube that directs liquid through the pourer to the exterior spout. Many include an air hole that regulates the flow, ensuring a smooth pour. Some have a collar that encases the top of the bottle to prevent drips.

The first speed pourer patent was filed in 1963 by John J. Daly. According to the patent (US3190511A), his goal was "to provide a liquid pourer particularly adapted for liquor bottles so that a desired amount of liquor is dispensed in a uniform stream upon tilting of the bottle containing the pourer." Before this, bartenders removed a bottle's cap every time they needed to pour a shot of alcohol. This may not have been a big issue in early bars, but as bars became more crowded and bartenders needed to make drinks more quickly, the speed pourer became an invaluable tool.

Using a speed pourer makes it quick and easy to pour a shot of liquor into any glass. By streamlining the flow of liquid coming out of the bottle, it helps prevent spills and splashes while giving greater control over the amount of alcohol that is poured. Some are even designed to pour a precise shot every time.

Today, most bars add speed pourers to frequently used liquor bottles. This includes the alcohol in the bar's well, and the least expensive and most popular brands of liquor and liqueurs. Generally, bars do not use speed pourers on top-shelf liquors, opting instead to leave the original cap in place to maintain freshness and prevent evaporation.

Styles of Speed Pourers

How to Use a Speed Pourer for Mixed Drinks and Cocktails
The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

Speed pourers are made of either stainless steel or plastic or a combination of the two materials. There have been many innovations in the original design, with each addition developed out of the need to solve a particular problem that bartenders encountered.

  • Long Spout: Also called a free-flow pourer, this is the most popular style used in bars. The spout is between two and three inches and angled to allow a smooth pour.
  • Angled or Tapered Short Spout: Very common as well, the shorter spouts have a tapered design that controls the flow of liquor.
  • Measured: This style is popularly used by bars to control pour costs. Measured pourers often use internal ball bearings to pour a 1 1/2-ounce or 2-ounce shot when the bottle is tipped, shutting off the flow automatically.
  • Screened: Perfect for outdoor use, these pourers include a screen near the spout tip that keeps debris and bugs out of liquor bottles.
  • Flip-Top: Common on the long spout and angled pourers, this design features a hinged lid that covers the spout when the bottle is upright. It's the same style used on olive oil and vinegar bottles.
  • No-Spout: When you want to leave a speed pourer and recap the bottle, this design is ideal. The Cap-On brand works very well and is a good choice for home bars and top-shelf liquors.

Can You Leave Speed Pourers on Liquor Bottles?

Speed pourers are extremely convenient, but it's not good to store a bottle for a long time with the speed pourer alone. Even bartenders debate about whether or not to remove pourers at the end of the night. The reason is that nearly every type of pourer will let some air into the bottle and reduce the liquor's shelf life. Oxidation may occur, and liquor will evaporate slowly over time. If exposed to excess heat and light, there may also be some loss in flavor. Caps are available that will cover some pourers, and a few pourers have the ability to twist close. Otherwise, it's best to remove the pourer and close the bottle with the original cap.

Speed Pouring Tips

A few quick tips to get you on the road to becoming a speed pouring master:

  • Place the speed pourer in the bottle so that the pouring hole is facing the bottle's label. This way, you'll always know which way the hole is pointing.
  • Hold the bottle by the neck or the main part of the bottle (whatever's most comfortable for that bottle design) to tip it at a 45-degree angle when pouring.
  • For most speed pourers, you can count to three or four to pour 1 1/2 ounces of liquid. Practice with an empty bottle filled with water and fill a shot glass while counting. After a few times of doing this, you will know the rhythm to get a precise pour.
  • To slow down the pour, use your finger to block the air hole on top of the pourer.
  • Be sure to clean and sanitize speed pourers regularly.
  • Sugary liqueurs can clog up the pour spout. Clean these more often or don't use them on bottles that frequently cause this issue.
  • Thin, long-neck liquor bottles work best with speed pourers. Some wider bottles (e.g., Crown Royal) don't work well when the bottle is nearly empty because the liquid is not deep enough to fill the inner tube. You'll need to remove the pourer to finish off the bottle.