Cocktail Mixing Techniques: Top 10 Tips For Mixing Fabulous Cocktails Every Time

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Professional bartenders would have you believe that mixing cocktails is a highly skilled art and that mere mortals should never be behind a bar. Using the correct techniques may be essential to creating great cocktails, but it certainly doesn’t require a lifetime of training or magical bartending powers. These top 10 cocktail mixing tips will ensure you get great results every time.

1) Use Small Cups

By the time you finish a drink in a tall glass, it will have warmed up, especially if the drink is served “up” (without ice) in a Martini glass. An ideal Martini glass should comfortably hold about 4 shots (which is about 4 fluid ounces or 120 ml).

2) Cool your glasses

Chill your glasses ahead of time in a cooler or simply fill them with water and ice to chill while you prepare your cocktail in the mixing tin. A chilled glass will keep your finished cocktail as fresh as possible, ensuring it continues to taste fantastic from the first sip to the last.

3) Follow the recommended recipes

Always use a cocktail recipe from a recommended source. A quality cocktail book or cocktail website will give you good recipes to work with. For a beginner with a small or growing home bar, basic ingredient cocktails are a great place to start.

4) Use the best ingredients available

As with many things in life, what you get depends a lot on what you put into it. Always use the best ingredients you can get your hands on. That means: quality branded spirits, branded mixers, fresh fruit and freshly squeezed juices. Fresh fruit and fresh juice will make a world of difference in a mixed drink.

5) Measure ingredients carefully

Professional bartenders are free to pour their cocktail ingredients directly into the mixing tin. This approach is notoriously hard to get right. It may not look as great, but by measuring the ingredients you will get a much better result. Use a quality measuring jigger that allows you to accurately measure halves, fourths, and eighths.

6) Hold Bottles By The Neck When Pouring

When you pour your ingredients into the mixing tin, hold the bottle of alcohol by the neck. You will find that this gives you much greater control of the bottle, making it easier to quickly get the correct measurement.

7) Use Lots of Ice

Add plenty of fresh ice to the mixing tin immediately before shaking. Putting the ice in at the beginning, before adding other ingredients, will only give the ice a chance to melt and dilute your cocktail.

8) Shake well

Shake until the can feels uncomfortably cool to the touch and condensation begins to form on the can. As Harry Craddock said in the Savoy Cocktail Book: “Shake the shaker as hard as you can…you’re trying to wake it up, not send it to sleep!”

9) Taste before serving

Fresh fruits and juices can vary in sweetness, so you may need to fine-tune your cocktail with additional citrus juice or sugar syrup to achieve the right balance. Always taste your finished cocktail to check that it is ready to serve. You can do this quickly and hygienically by using a straw to extract some of the drink. Dip the straw into the cocktail, place a finger over the dry end, bring the straw to your mouth, then release a few drops of the cocktail to taste.

10) Decorate with subtlety

Use fresh fruit and simple cocktail picks to garnish your cocktails. No garnish is much better than a forest of fruits, vegetables, and umbrellas on top of your drink! Keep it simple and the result will be impressive. Don’t forget that some garnishes also add flavor to a cocktail, whether it’s the lime wedge in a Gin Tonic or the flamed lemon zest in a Cosmopolitan.

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