You don't need a professional bartender or complicated cocktail recipes to create a cold drink that hits the spot.
Anyone can create a cocktail with basic bartending skills if they have the right ingredients and tools. But there's only so much a highball glass or margarita glass can do to elevate the quality of a beverage.
What makes your drink special is the kind of technique you employ when mixing drinks.
In this guide, we've broken down five essential techniques you will need to make a perfect cocktail.
Once you have mastered them, you can throw a cocktail party to show off your new skills!
When should you use your cocktail shaker?
The general rule of thumb is that if a cocktail recipe has citrus, egg whites, cream, or any opaque ingredient, then you shake it (unless it's carbonated).
There are many types of cocktail shakers in the market, but we recommend the two-piece Boston shakers, to begin with. Unlike the three-part cobbler shaker with a built-in strainer, the Boston shaker comprises a mixing tin and pint glass.
It's more versatile and easy to use, making it perfectly convenient for the occasional events that you would use a shaker.
Before you shake, fill your cocktail shaker with enough ice cubes. Seal the shaker well, hold with two hands (one on top while the other supports the base) and shake vigorously for 10-12 seconds.
When water has begun to condense on the surface of the shaker, the cocktail should be sufficiently chilled and ready to be strained into a chilled glass!
If you prefer a short but higher spirit number drink, it is better to stir the drink than shake it.
This is also a better method when utilising fizzy ingredients, such as sparkling water, clear liqueurs, or hot cocktails.
Stirring is a much more delicate technique that will not break off any ice shards and creates a silkier texture for your cocktail.
For this method, you can stir in either a mixing glass, shaker or other items. Use a long-handle bar spoon or glass rod, lots of ice cubes and mix for 20-30 seconds.
A perfectly stirred drink should be well-chilled with diluted cocktail ingredients that elevate the burn of the alcohol while keeping the drink crystal clear.
When you mix drinks that include extracting fruit juices or oil from fresh herbs, muddling is used to draw out the essence gently.
The tool used is a long muddler which can be made of materials ranging from bamboo to stainless steel.
However, if you do not have one, you can use the back of a bar spoon or rolling pin instead.
How to best perform the muddling technique:
Use a sturdy glass with a solid base or cocktail shaker.
Place your ingredients in the bottom of the mixing glass.
Gently press down and twist the muddler at the same time.
Repeat this about 4 to 6 times until the ingredients are sufficiently muddled.
Many cocktails - shaken or stirred - must be strained before being served.
There are several reasons for its importance, but, the most prominent are some cocktails like the martinis are served chilled without ice.
The main point of straining is to remove any solids such as ice cubes, crushed ice, pulp, broken leaves or fruit from getting into the cocktail glass. Almost all cocktails call to be strained.
There are two types of filters commonly used:
When straining stirred drinks, this style of filter is the most preferable as it holds back large pieces like ice cubes. Primarily used with the Boston shaker or Japanese mixing glass.
Place the strainer inside the glass with the curved side facing up, and pour the mix through the filter (holding it in place) into its final glass.
This filter is suitable for shaken drinks as the spring holds back most ice shards, fruits, and herbs.
Place it on top of the mixing tin or glass with the coil facing down.
Hold the filter with your index finger (and middle finger, if it helps) while grasping the container firmly near the top. Slowly tip the tin over the serving glass to pour the drink.
While we're on the topic, there are certain mixed drinks that call for a double straining:
Double straining is recommended when you want to make the cleanest cocktail.
This method requires two steps of straining; first through either a julep or Hawthorne strainer and a second through a fine-mesh filter.
To double strain, place your regular strainer in or on the cocktail shaker and hold a fine mesh strainer by its handle over the serving glass.
Then, pour the drink through both filters into the glass.
Take note that different mixed drinks require different types of cocktail glasses!
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