You take a sip of a cocktail at your favorite bar, and the flavors are incredible. After taking a peek at the ingredient list, you head over to the nearest liquor store. Surely you can recreate the drink yourself. However, your first sip doesn’t hit the same way. Where did you go wrong? There are a few simple tips to improve your at-home cocktail experience.
Find a Great Recipe
It’s not enough to know what ingredients belong in a drink. Whether you’re making an Absolut Moscow mule, old-fashioned, or mojito, you should start with a great recipe. The instructions will make sure you get the appropriate proportions, give you preparation tips, and maybe even a few twists.
Purchase Quality Liquor
If the prices on the bottom shelf are catching your eye, be wary. Your cocktail will only be as good as the liquor you put in it. Price isn’t a definitive indicator of quality, so do your research. Premium liquor usually has better ingredients and a more precise distilling process. The result is a smoother taste and less severe hangovers.
The reason you see professional bartenders measure carefully is twofold. Bars don’t want to miss out on profits by serving too much liquor per drink, and measuring creates consistency. Instead of just eyeballing your pours, consider using a device to make each drink as perfect as the last.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the capacity of your tools. Most shot glasses hold 1.5 ounces, and a standard double jigger will measure out an ounce and 1.5 ounces.
Use Good Ice
Good ice is a critical part of your drink. Before you head to the icebox, think a few things through. How pure was the water you used to create your ice, and how long has it been in your freezer? Impurities in your ice will contaminate the flavor of your drink.
Even ice made with filtered water can pick up an unpleasant taste if it’s been sitting for several months. Cube size also matters. Crushed ice or small cubes will melt more quickly. The result is a watered-down drink that won’t stay cold as long.
Learn When To Shake
Shakers aren’t just for show. Cocktails containing cream, fruit juice, or eggs are often shaken to change the texture, temperature, and flavor. You’ll end up with a drink that is frothy, colder, and well-integrated. You should shake for about 20 seconds.
However, not every drink should be placed in a shaker. Gentler stirring is preferred for beverages with very little or no mixers. Some say shaking gin and whiskey can even bruise the liquor. Stir for approximately 30 seconds to get a silkier mouthfeel.
Keep It Fresh
Remember that fresh is best. It can be tempting to buy a bottle of juice. It’s easy and long-lasting, but it won’t produce the same taste. Even juicing fruit in bulk isn’t a good idea. Lemon and lime juice will quickly react with oxygen in the air. For the finest results, cut and squeeze fresh produce while preparing the drink.
Learn About Storage
While liquor isn’t necessarily perishable, the way you store it matters. If distilled spirits are kept in a warm, sunny environment, they will oxidize and alter taste. It’s recommended to keep liquors like whiskey, gin, and vodka out of direct UV rays and at room temperate or below. On the other hand, cream-based liqueurs and fortified wines must be refrigerated. Corked spirits are best stored standing upright.
Bartending is an art. Recreating your favorite cocktail at home will take practice, but using the right recipes, techniques, and ingredients will give you a great start.