Whether you have dinner guests to entertain or some leftover gin still in the cupboard, with these tips you will be able to create your favourite cocktails at home in no time. It all really comes down to the quality of the ingredients and the equipment you are using.
I recommend a Boston shaker as it consists of two parts, a shaking tin and a mixing glass. The mixing glass is useful for Martinis and other cocktails that should be stirred, and it helps you to see what you are doing.
Strainers are ideal when you are making a cocktail and want to avoid any small flakes of ice or bits of fruit floating in the final drink.
There are three types of strainer, a julep, a Hawthorne and a tea strainer. A julep is like a bowl-shaped cup with holes and a handle and a Hawthorne has a coiled spring, which will help to trap any extra fruit or mint leaves and allow you to control the flow of the liquid when pouring.
You only really need a Hawthorne and a tea strainer, though. The hand-held tea strainer will help you to strain all the little bits of mint and shards of ice. When a recipe requires double straining, you should use both the Hawthorne and the tea strainer.
There are several types of barspoons with slight differences between them, but for a beginner it doesn’t really matter which one you get as long as it is long and has a twisted shape. The spoon will help you to stir better and it can also be used as a small measure.
Every household should have at least one measure. Whenever you make a G&T or any cocktail, it is important to measure the amount of alcohol you use. The drink will taste better and you will know exactly how much booze you are drinking.
A small wooden muddler is a great tool for crushing fruit and berries and slightly bruising herbs. It is not necessary equipment as you can use other tools from the kitchen, but if you do choose one, make sure it is not varnished or lacquered as the coating will wear off over time and can end up in your drink. Also avoid muddlers with teeth as they crush herbs too much.
A hand juicer is not necessary if you have other equipment at home to do the job, but if you just want a quick and easy way to squeeze fresh juice for a few cocktails, I recommend getting a Mexican elbow. It is fast and does the job.
Depending on the types of cocktails you like to drink, it is handy to have a few varieties of glassware.
Consider these: Martini glass, coupe glass, old-fashioned glass, highball and a champagne flute
Choosing the liquor – There is so much to choose from, how do I know what to get!?
First, you should think about the cocktails you will be making. For example, if you are a Margarita girl then you should choose a good-quality tequila and a bottle of Cointreau. Cointreau is handy as you can also use it with Daiquiris (just replace tequila with rum) or Sidecar (with cognac).
To make a Martini you will need a bottle of top notch gin (or vodka if you like Vodkatinis) and dry vermouth. The vermouth will last for a long time, just store it properly, ideally in the fridge. Obviously, if you are serious about cocktails you can get as many bottles as you like. Even if you only drink Martinis you can experiment with different types of gins and variations of Martini.
I always recommend using quality spirits and liqueurs, but it doesn’t mean you should be using the most expensive bottles. For cocktails you can also choose younger spirits.
Ice is the key!
Whenever you make a drink or a cocktail it is important to use a lot of ice. For a G&T you should be filling your glass with ice cubes or else you will end up diluting the drink too fast. For cocktails, you should first measure the ingredients into the glass part of your Boston shaker and then fill it with ice before you shake it. The same applies for Martinis – measure the ingredients, fill the glass with ice and stir. That way you will have a lovely cold cocktail with just enough water to dilute it.
Ideally, you would keep your ingredients chilled or at least chill your cocktail glass with ice or ice and cold water.
With these equipment and the right liquor you should be able to create wonderful drinks in the comfort of your own home. I recommend you get a cocktail recipe book or at least write down all the delicious recipes you find and keep your notes together with the equipment. Don’t forget to check my recipes section for ideas!
One of my favourite shops for pretty barware is Urban Bar. I am obsessed with their vintage style cocktail glasses!
Do you own all the cocktail equipment? What is your favourite cocktail to make?
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