How to Be a Master Home Bartender: 6 Home Bartending Tips
When it comes to mastering mixology, a few simple tips can elevate your bartending skills and prepare you for your next cocktail party.
- Stock your bar with essential spirits and mixers. Make a list of the classic cocktails you love to drink and assemble the spirits needed to make them. Keep mixers like tonic water, cranberry juice, tomato juice for Bloody Marys, Margarita mix, simple syrup, sour mix, grenadine, and Angostura bitters on hand. In terms of alcohol, you'll likely want to stock your bar with vodka, tequila, gin, rum, whiskey, and vermouth, along with some of your favorite liqueurs.
- Own the necessary bar tools. To become a skilled mixologist and make great cocktails, it's helpful to own the basic tools that professional bartenders use. Invest in a quality cocktail shaker (a cobbler shaker is ideal if you’re just starting out), a mixing glass, and a julep strainer. Make sure you have a jigger to measure liquids.
- Squeeze your own fresh juice. Fresh citrus juice from lemons, limes, and oranges makes for more delicious cocktails than store-bought, pre-made juices. All you need is a hand tool called a citrus press (or squeezer) and some fresh fruit, and you'll be on your way to extracting juice like a professional bartender.
- Learn how to properly serve each type of cocktail. Remember this rule of thumb when deciding whether to stir or shake a cocktail: You should generally stir cocktails like Negronis and Martinis that consist solely of liquor—including vermouth and liqueur. Be sure to present each drink in the right kind of glass. You’ll want to own a variety of glassware—Martini glasses, coupes, highball glasses, and rocks glasses—so that you can present any finished cocktail in a suitable vessel.
- Up your ice cube game. The right type of ice can transform a cocktail from ordinary to extraordinary. Use crushed ice for cocktails that need dilution, like tiki drinks. For spirit-heavy drinks like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan, use large round cubes that melt slowly and don’t water down the spirit. For highball drinks like the Tom Collins, add some style by using long, rectangular Collins spears. You can purchase molds to make your own ice spheres and Collins spears.
- Learn how to make a citrus twist. Though simple to make, a basic citrus twist brings visual appeal to a cocktail, and the citrus oils in the rind add aroma and flavor to your drink. To make a citrus twist, use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to cut out a thin oval-shaped slice of peel. Next, express the citrus oils over your cocktail by pinching the peel in half horizontally with the pith on the inside and rind on the outside. This creates a mist of oil that settles on the surface of your cocktail. Lastly, rub the peel along the rim of the glass, then drop the peel into the cocktail.
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