Upgrade your cocktail game with these tips

Have you ever made a cocktail at home and after tasting it, felt like something was missing but you couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was? This has happened to me numerous times and I am sure it has happened to many others as well.

Cocktail making is an art and with so many bars creating delicious mixtures, you can sometimes forget the small things that they do, which can make a huge difference – whether that’s the type of ice they use, the glass they service their mixture in, the type of garnish or by using a premium spirit instead of the more affordable option. 

When it comes to home bartending, you can still achieve the same results that most bars produce, sometimes, it’s just the planning stage before making the drink that can make a difference. Below, I have put together a quick guide on ways to upgrade your cocktail game. 

Use the correct ice 

When I first started making cocktails, I didn’t realise how important ice is to the end product. I think we are all guilty of sticking to the standard shop-bought ice cubes, instead of using crushed ice, collins ice or an ice ball – ice balls are always great in an Old Fashioned! 

The ice you use can affect the flavour profile and the overall look. Large ice cubes melt slower, reducing dilution, whereas crushed ice dilutes quicker which is why it’s used in drinks that require more dilution as you drink them, such as a Moscow Mule. 

Consider the spirits you are using

When you are going to the shop to buy a spirit, it can always be tempting to buy the most affordable one or a typical household name spirit. I have nothing against this and a lot of the time, these spirits are perfectly good, however when you are trying to make the perfect cocktail, they may not do the trick. 

Instead, before heading to the shop, consider the cocktails you are making. Think about the flavour profile of the cocktails you want to make and whether a particular spirit would work better than another. For example, a citrus & zesty gin may be preferred for your gin spritz cocktail instead of an herbal gin like Roku Gin. You may also want to consider purchasing a flavoured spirit instead of a non-flavoured one as these can add an extra dynamic to your cocktail – vanilla vodka works really well in a salted caramel martini. 

Use fresh fruit

There is nothing wrong with using bottled juices when you are in a rush and don’t have time to pop into the shop and freshly squeeze them. That being said, fresh fruit can be a game changer in your cocktail. Fresh juices contain no added sugar, they taste better, are fresher and you can use the pieces of fruit as a garnish after squeezing them. 

It’s a good idea to plan ahead and prepare for making cocktails in advance. If you know you’ll be making cocktails on a Friday or over the weekend, try to stock up on the necessary ingredients during the week. You can then freshly squeeze any necessary fruit ahead of time, making it easier to mix your drinks. 

Serve your cocktail in the correct glass 

Although the mixture you are making is the most important part of a cocktail, the glassware you serve your drink in plays an essential role. When drinking a cocktail, it should be an experience, in which the glassware can have an effect on this. The shape of the glass can affect how you perceive the drink as well as affect the taste. The size of the glass is important – you wouldn’t want to serve an old fashioned in a highball glass (it would look wrong) and the glass thickness affects the feel as you sip your cocktail.

When looking for cocktail glasses, consider looking at the classic ranges. Often these will be best suited for the cocktail you will make at home. For glasses to have on hand I would suggest Rock glasses, Highball glasses, Fizz glasses and Coupe glasses.

Practise makes perfect 

Practise, practise and practise even more! When you taste a cocktail at one of your favourite bars, you can bet they have made that mixture countless times. Being a bartender is their job and they make cocktails daily, meaning they get to home in on their cocktail-making skills. The more you practise making your cocktails at home, the better you are going to get. Keep at it weekly and always work on your technique. In no time, you’ll be making the perfect cocktail. 

Do you have a favourite cocktail that you make at home? What tips would you advise for making the perfect cocktail? Which of the above points do you think is most helpful? Let me know in the comment box below. 

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