For those that love to entertain, having a cocktail bar can really enhance the evening with friends. Whether you invite someone over for a happy hour before heading out to dinner or offer cocktails and a meal to select pals, you will want to make sure the drinks are as good or better than those offered at the local bar. The key is to practice until you have each drink perfected. Here are a few tips to help you make your own creations at home that will rival any bartender in town.
The first step is choosing a cocktail you want to learn for your home bar. One of the best choices is the Cosmopolitan because of the dozens of variations available once you have learned the basics. Created from cranberry and vodka, the Cosmo is a popular choice at most restaurants and bars and is sure to be a hit at your backyard barbeques or weekend soirees. The Bloody Mary, Martini, Old Fashioned, and Margarita cocktails are other popular recipes and are often requested at parties, bars and restaurants.
Purchase the best spirits, syrups and mixers you can afford for the type of drink you will be preparing. For your Cosmo, you will need a high-quality vodka like Absolut, and a tart cranberry juice. Martinis can be made with vodka or gin, dry vermouth, and brine. Old Fashioned drinks require bourbon or whiskey, bitters, and a citrus component. With hundreds of drinks available, you can see how confusing recipes can be, so make sure you keep a book or index of ingredients for each drink at your bar.
When you set up your home bar, there are some tools you will need to purchase if you want to become a true mixologist. For measuring liquid, you will need a jigger that has a shot side and a pony side. Although the shot glass can be used to serve alcohol, the jigger only measures. Different styles of glasses are also essential for each cocktail. Remember to purchase a quality shaker, a juice strainer, melon-baller, and a mixing glass, as well. If you plan on adding high-quality fresh juice to your guest’s drinks, don’t forget to locate a solid juice press.
One of the most identifying features for most cocktails is the presentation. With the proper glass on hand, you will also need a variety of garnishes. This can include lime for your Cosmo, orange twists for the Old Fashioned, and stuffed green olives for a Martini. Other popular garnishes include maraschino cherries, melon balls, berries, and pineapple wedges. Many tutorials are available online to help you learn to make citrus twists, balls of melon, and stacked fruit skewers for all your drinks.
Many types of ices are used in the preparation of cocktails. Crushed ice dilutes drinks with heavy syrup content. Heavy spirit content drinks are often sipped slowly, so large cubes are used so the alcohol does not become diluted too quickly. There are also stylistic ices such as spears, circles, and diamonds.
Perhaps the most crucial step in learning to create reliably amazing cocktails is to practice. A fun way to do this is by inviting friends over for pizza and a cocktail experiment night. The feedback from those you trust can be invaluable as you learn the difference between a pony shot and a full jigger. Consistency is essential when it comes to making cocktails for your guests, and practice is the best way to become consistent.
You can become the bartender your friends always turn to for parties and events, or you can choose to tend bar only at home. Whatever your dream of cocktail creation contains, the hints above can help you hone your skills today.