Essential Tips to Perfect At-Home Cocktails
We've got all of the tips and tricks you'll need to take your cocktail game to the next level, no matter what time of year. From summer refreshers and classic cocktails to holiday favorites and spirits that are sure to impress.
As passionate mixologists say, a cocktail is not just a drink, but also an experience. From the perfect glass to the beautiful garnish and everything in between, every little detail makes a difference.
Here's a breakdown of the essential cocktail ingredients and tools you'll need to master cocktail-making at home.
The Essential Ingredients:
Start with the ingredients of your favorite drink and build from there. An essential selection of spirits includes rum, vodka, tequila, gin and whiskey.
The balancing agents of a cocktail. These include club soda, tonic water, fruit juices, ginger beer, soda and simple syrup (make your own by boiling and simmering equal parts water and C&H® Granulated Sugar).
A proprietary blend of spices, herbs and other plants that have been infused, usually in spirits, and sometimes aged. Bitters, such as Angostura, add complexity to drinks and accentuate flavors.
Are ingredients added to a base spirit to introduce floral, herbaceous, or umami notes. Classic modifiers include Vermouth, Lillet, Absinthe, Cointreau, and Maraschino.
An important ingredient that’s often neglected. Store-bought ice and standard ice cubes will melt way too quickly when shaking or stirring, diluting your drinks. An easy fix is to use ice made in large molds. Larger ice cubes will chill your drinks without watering them down.
Fresh ingredients can really make your drink pop. You should have on hand: lemons, limes and oranges for peels, zest or slices, fresh herbs such as mint, basil and rosemary, maraschino cherries, C&H® Granulated Sugar or Light Brown Sugar (perfect for Tropical Vodka Coolers), stuffed green olives and salt.
Best Cocktail Tools to Mix like a Pro:
A cocktail jigger is a shot or cocktail measuring cup, usually made of metal, ranging in sizes of 0.5-2.5 oz.
Used to chill and mix drinks. There are two types of shakers: the Boston shaker, which requires a separate cocktail strainer, and the standard shaker which comes with a built-in strainer.
A cocktail muddler is a tool similar to a pestle that mashes fresh ingredients, for example the mint leaves in a mint julep or mojito, to release their flavors.
A metal spoon with a long and spiral handle, great for stirring drinks.
A nice glass will make your cocktail even more attractive! Must -haves include a Martini glass, a Margarita glass (perfect for Watermelon Margaritas), an Old Fashioned, and a Champagne Flute. Pro tip: chill your glassware by placing them in the fridge 15 minutes before serving.
Master the Classics:
There are hundreds of classic cocktails, but if you’re new to cocktail-making, practice these classics until you’ve mastered them.
- Old Fashioned
- Whiskey Sour
- Tom Collins
- Moscow Mule
- Gin Fizz
- Bloody Mary
So, there you have it, all the essential cocktail preparation ingredients and tools you need for your next Happy Hour.