Professional bartenders would have you believe that mixing cocktails is a highly trained art and that mere mortals should never be allowed behind a bar. Using the right techniques may be essential for creating great cocktails, but a lifetime of training or magical mixology powers are certainly not required. These top 10 tips for mixing cocktails will ensure you get great results every time.
1) Use Small Glasses
By the time you finish a drink in a large glass it will have warmed up, especially if the drink is served “up” (without ice) in a Martini glass. An ideal Martini glass should comfortably hold about 4 shots (which is around 4 fl oz or 120 ml).
2) Chill Your Glasses
Chill your glasses in advance in a fridge or simply fill them with water and ice to chill while making your cocktail in the mixing tin. A chilled glass will keep your finished cocktail as cool as possible, ensuring it continues to taste fantastic from the first sip until the last.
3) Follow Recommended Recipes
Always use a cocktail recipe from a recommended source. A quality cocktail book, or cocktail website will provide good recipes to work with. For a beginner with a small or growing home bar, cocktails with basic ingredients are a great place to start.
4) Use the Best Ingredients Available
As with many things in life, what you get out depends very much on what you put in. Always use the best ingredients you can get your hands on. That means: quality branded spirits, branded mixers, fresh fruit and freshly squeezed juices. Fresh fruit and fresh juice will make an amazing difference to a mixed drink.
5) Measure Ingredients Carefully
Professional bartenders may be able to free pour their cocktail ingredients straight into the mixing tin. This approach is notoriously hard to get right. It may not look quite as cool, but by measuring your ingredients you’ll get a far better result. Use a quality measuring jigger that allows you to pour half, quarter and eighth measures accurately.
6) Hold Bottles by the Neck When Pouring
When pouring your ingredients into the mixing tin, hold the spirit bottle by the neck. You’ll find this gives you much greater control of the bottle, making it easier to quickly pour exactly the right measure.
7) Use Lots of Ice
Add lots of fresh ice to the mixing tin immediately before shaking. Putting the ice in at the start, before you add other ingredients, will only give the ice chance to melt and dilute your cocktail.
8) Shake Well
Shake until the mixing tin feels uncomfortably cold to the touch and condensation starts to form on it. As Harry Craddock put it in the Savoy Cocktail Book: “Shake the shaker as hard as you can… you are trying to wake it up, not send it to sleep!”
9) Taste Before Serving
Fresh fruits and juices can vary in sweetness so you may need to fine tune your cocktail with extra citrus juice or sugar syrup to achieve the right balance. Always taste your finished cocktail to check its ready to serve. You can do this quickly and hygienically by using a straw to siphon a little of the drink. Dip the straw in the cocktail, hold a finger over the dry end, move the straw to your mouth and then release a few drops of the cocktail to taste.
10) Garnish With Subtlety
Use fresh fruits and simple cocktail picks to garnish your cocktails. No garnish is far better than a forest of fruit, veg and umbrellas in the top of your drink! Keep it simple and the result will be stunning. Don’t forget that some garnishes also add to the flavor of a cocktail, whether it’s the wedge of lime in a Gin and Tonic or a flamed lemon zest in a Cosmopolitan.