Planning for a house party? It’s time to bring around the amateur bartender in you! But wait, before getting started you should definitely tutor yourself with what goes into bartending. There are many people who live by this misconception that making a cocktail is just about mixing a few drinks together. That’s actually not the case. It involves a lot of knowledge and a few tricks to create the wonderful drink. In this blog post, we’ve got for you 10 eye-opening tips so that you can make your own cocktail.
1. Prepare Your Basic Tool Kit
The first and foremost thing you’d require is to get your tool kit ready. Even as an in-home bartender, you cannot just mix up drinks and call it a cocktail. Tools are what define your drink and can make them from worse to best. If you are planning to buy some, the variety of these glimmering equipments might confuse you for once. But do not worry. We have compiled a list of 9 essential tools which you cannot afford to miss upon.
Shaker: It is very important to ensure that you mix your drink well, allowing all the flavours to do their magic.
Ice Tongs: If not for hygiene, do it for the sake of style. You’d definitely not want your audience to see you picking ice with your paws.
Jigger: Mixing right proportion of ingredients is very important for a quality cocktail. A jigger helps to measure and pour the contents with precision.
Hawthorne Strainer: The biggest mistake you can do is to leave out the leaves, pulp or ice floating in cocktail. While it may taste well, these floating things can completely spoil your experience. To prevent this, you should always strainer while pouring it in glass.
Cocktail Stirrer: A humble appearance of this tool might make you want to find its substitute at home. Stirring your drink with a spoon will leave it cloudy and flabby. A cocktail stirrer is very sleek and creates faster and smoother motion making for a perfect, clear drink.
Reamer/Juicer: A cocktail often calls for fruit juice. A reamer/juicer is perfect device to get that fresh juice without creating a sticky mess.
Mixing Glass: Some drinks like the classic Manhattan do no require a shaker and are rather stirred. While the bottom of a shaker can be used as substitute, a mixing glass on the other hand is easier to handle and looks more classy.
Muddler: If you love cocktails with mint, fruit or sugar cubes then this tool is a must. It is shaped for blending and crushing ingredients in deep vessels such as a mixing glass.
Zester: This tool helps you obtain the citrus zest without catching any pith. Professionals might also use knife but it can become a tedious and messy task for beginners.
2. Knowing the Ingredients
While you make your own cocktail, you are required to have a good knowledge of drinks or you may end up creating an undesirable combination. Also quite obvious and very important is to ensure that the ingredients are of best quality. The difference it creates might surprise you!
A cocktail when paired with perfect food can do wonders. For instance, if the chief ingredient of your cocktail is wine, knowing a bit about food and wine pairing can help you a lot with the menu.
3. The Power of Fresh Juices
There are many cocktails which require fruit juice and people often substitute them with products available in the market. But did you know this can completely spoil your drink. Products which are labeled as ‘juice drink’ or ‘fruit beverage’ contain added undesirable flavours. So it is always recommended to use only fresh juice for drinks rather than the packed one.
4. Do not Forget to Balance
Before we get on with how to balance your cocktail, it is important that you know a few terms. Very often, we use words like strong or weak, and sour or sweet for our drinks. Even the ingredients are broadly classified in these 4 categories. The main alcohol component of a drink is what we describe as ‘strong’. This can be vodka, gin or rum while on the other hand, ‘weak’ alcoholic beverages are the ones with lesser ABV (Alcohol by Volume) like liqueurs or fortified wines. The citrus flavours of lemon and lime are ‘sour’ and flavours of sugar or syrup makes a cocktail ‘sweet’.
As you make your own cocktail, it is important that you add these ingredients in a balanced way. You may start by pouring sour flavours and weak alcohol. Sweet drinks are generally less desirable and thus sugar or syrups should be added carefully. Tasting it at this stage would give you a good idea of the final cocktail. You may add the strong alcohols accordingly.
5. Stirring and Shaking
How do we know if one should stir the drink or shake it? As a rule of thumb, if it contains ingredients like egg or juice, then you should always shake it so that the flavours mix well. Drinks like Manhattan, if shaken would show undesirable clouds. Thus, a strong drink made only with liquors should always be stirred.
6. Dilution of Ice
Mixing the drink for too long can make it flabby and over-diluted. A 30-second shake is enough for proper dilution and aeration.
While pouring your drink, the biggest mistake one can do is not using a strainer and letting pieces of ice flow in a glass. These pieces melt fast making the drink diluted even before it is served. Thus, avoid it unless the recipe demands for ‘dumped’ ice.
Said that, the quality of ice also matters a lot. Thin and wet ice melts very fast and can drain down the essence of all flavours. Ideally, dense and large ice cubes are used in cocktails. So, the next time you make your own cocktail, remember not to use finely crushed ice.
7. The Glassware
To begin with this in-home bartending passion, it might be impossible to maintain a variety stock for cocktail glasses. But no worries. Coupes, lowballs and highballs are the best option for starting since they go with almost a majority of drinks. While the coupes are perfect pair for your Martini, highballs would generously hold Gin and Tonics.
A good chef always know what he’s serving. There are possibilities of missing out some ingredients or you might have also over or under poured something. Tasting a drink would make you more confident about what is being served. When stirred for long, the drink might get oxidized or flat. So, it is always a good option to check beforehand.
9. Frosting the Glass
Keeping an empty glass in the freezer might seem a little bizarre and many of us don’t know about this trick. Adding ice might not be desirable all the time especially if you want a chilled but neat spirit. All you need to do here is keep your tumbler in a freezer for few minutes before you start pouring in drinks. It’s freezing temperature would make your drink chilly and nice by the time you are are done with mixing.
10. Garnish it Like a Pro
While you make your own cocktail, do not forget to garnish. Not all drinks go well with the standard lemon slice or umbrella garnish. It’s best to use some ingredient which is actually a part of that drink. However there are always exceptions. A dressing of olive or onion spears is widely used for savory drink like the classic Martini.
The last and the most obvious tip to conclude is – maintain a good stock of drinks. You should always keep trying new styles, create your own or go with the classics. Wines are always a good and classy pick for cocktail. And now that you know how to make your own cocktail, why don't you get started!