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Have you ever watched a bartender make your cocktail and think ‘wow’ or ‘I want to learn how to do that’? We have!
When we’re serving cocktails at our clients’ events, we get a lot of questions from guests who want to know more about ‘what goes in this?’ and ‘what is that?’. So, we took the hint that most people would love to learn a little bit about cocktail making and put together this blog to let you in on the basics…
YOU NEED THE RIGHT METHOD
Whether you like a little showmanship and flair when your cocktail is presented to you, or perhaps you’re happy for the mixologist to concentrate more on the flavours and less on the theatre, there are three key methods used in cocktail making that you should be familiar with…
- BUILD | This is the most simple and quickest method and great for beginners! All ingredients are simply poured into the glass and topped with ice. This is the perfect method for making simple cocktails such as Sex on the Beach, Blue Lagoon & Woo Woo.
- SHAKE & STRAIN | This is a great way to show off and is most favoured by our clients as they make comparisons to Tom Cruise in the movie ‘Cocktail’. All or most of the ingredients are put into a shaker and shaken vigorously over ice. A strainer is then placed on top of the shaker to strain the mixture, keeping bits of fruit and ice out of your drink.
- MUDDLE | This is the method used to muddle fresh fruit or herbs that beginners love to try. It requires a heavy hand to squash fruits to create a purée and herbs to release their oils and flavour. Adjoin this with either the Build or Shake & Strain method to create a professional standard cocktail.
YOU NEED THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
You do not need a full and professional mixologist kit to create great cocktails; but, as a minimum you should have these five key pieces of equipment…
THE BOSTON SHAKER | Found in every mixologists’ kit and key to that famous cocktail shake! One half tin and one half toughened glass, enabling you to see your cocktail through the glass and feel the temperature of it through the tin.
Hint – make sure that the tin of the shaker is put on at an angle. If the tin is put on directly downwards and straight, it will be very hard to release the glass from the tin promising embarrassing moments in front of your guests!
HAWTHORNE STRAINER | A tool that is used to strain the mixture from a cocktail shaker into a glass, whilst successfully holding back lumps of ice and fruit. The strainer fits snuggly into the tin of the shaker, not the glass.
MUDDLER | A muddler is a tool used to squash fruits to create a purée and herbs to release their oils and flavour, solely made for the muddle method – hence the name. Muddling is the action of using the strength in both your hand and arm to apply force to the ingredients. It can only be compared to the action you use to plunge a toilet…Sorry!
SPEED POURER | A speed pourer is a pouring tool that fits snuggly inside your bottle top. It allows you to pour liquid neatly and at speed, hence the name speed pourer.
JIGGER | A jigger is simply a measurer that can measure your liquids in 12.5ml and 25ml. More sophisticated jiggers can offer different measurements; but we’re not there yet! Most professional mixologists do not use jiggers as they can accurately ‘free pour’ the correct amount of liquid. As a beginner, you will certainly need a 12.5/25ml jigger to begin with.
WHAT TO DO IF…
‘Mini disaster’s’ do happen and you can get around them if you know how to. We’ve put together a list of the most common mishaps, so that you can continue to impress your guests despite those little hiccups. One simple piece of advice before we even start is to just make sure you have more than enough of everything you need. You can return non-perishable items with a valid receipt.
NO FRESH LIME | Use lemon or lime juice from concentrate instead. Remember the stuff we use on our pancakes? It’s not the best but it’s the best alternative you’re going to get.
NO SUGAR SYRUP | This one is easy to fix. Mix up two parts caster sugar and one part water. Use white granulated sugar if there isn’t any caster sugar. It’s just that caster sugar dissolves super-fast.
NO SODA WATER | Lemonade makes a great alternative and it is satisfyingly sweet. It’s also a popular tonic replacement for those G&T drinkers.
NO CRUSHED ICE | Grab an up-for-it family member who will crush a bag of cubed ice with a rolling pin. Lay a tea-towel underneath the bag so as not to damage any work surface area. Crushed ice makes all the difference when you want a professional and impressive looking cocktail.
NO GARNISH | Garnish really is everything and indicates the difference between a quality cocktail and one not so. Running out of garnish is not the end of the world; but, if you can just make an effort with some oranges, lemons or limes if you have any lying around. Try using your potato peeler to peel and twist a strip of the peel.
NO GLASSWARE | Get stuck in and wash up. As a preventative measure, always hire somebody who is responsible for clearing glasses, washing them and returning them to the bar area. If you do not want to do this, you need to hire enough glasses for the duration of your event. Use page 4 of our Dry Bar Hire Guide to work out how many glasses you will need for your event.
Feeling ready to make some exquisite cocktails? Check out our HOW TO GUIDE with 12 cocktail recipes to get you started.