Hard liquors. Easy choices.
Just stocking up your liquor cabinet? There’s no sense in spending all your money on spirits. A few key ingredients will get you off to a great start for preparing all kinds of fun cocktails.
Dry gin, rum and whisky are some of the most versatile spirits out there. But if you have to choose just one, the uncontested champion is vodka, which lends itself to dozens of different drinks. Discover some easy recipes for vodka cocktails.
In addition to these basics, consider stocking some standard liqueurs. Coffee, almond and citrus liqueurs top the charts along with the much-loved Irish cream.
Preparation then presentation
Give your cocktails some added character! Stock up on a range of garnishes including fresh and candied fruit (oranges, lemons, limes, cranberries, pineapple, litchis, maraschino cherries, olives), fresh vegetables (celery, Lebanese cucumbers) and fresh herbs (basil, mint, rosemary). As the need arises, stock up on straws, cocktail picks and swizzle sticks. Also, make sure you always have a good supply of ice on hand. And don’t forget to use coasters so you don’t ruin your table tops!
Above all, remember that a good bartender is a creative one. The sky’s the limit!
A glass for every cocktail
Choose the right glassware to showcase your cocktails! You’ll have to explore your cupboards and dust off your finest. For those of you who are still learning, know that four different types of glasses are plenty to serve up a variety of cocktails.
This long-stemmed glass is most often used for strong drinks prepared in a shaker.
Wide and low, this is the ideal glass for serving drinks on the rocks.
This tall glass lends itself to tall drinks… no surprise there!
Last but not least, the shooter glass is handy for measuring and serving shots. Bottom’s up!
Once you know your way around the bar a little better, you may want to acquaint yourself with other types of glassware.
Whatever the type of glass you’ve got, beware of dramatic temperature changes. It’s best to bring the glass to the right temperature before pouring in your drink. For cold cocktails, place the glass in the refrigerator for two minutes first. For hot drinks, warm the glass by running it under hot water. Finally, rest assured that there’s no need for fine crystal. You’re better off with a variety of regular glassware. Inexpensive glasses can be spruced up by rimming the edge with sugar or salt.
Here’s to you and your guests!
For all you movers and shakers…
A cocktail shaker is a bartender’s best friend. Without it, you’d never be able to impress your friends! To cover all your bases, get a shaker that has three separate parts: the container, jigger and built-in filter.
No bartending “arsenal” would be complete without the following items: an ice strainer, a mixing spoon and an ice bucket with tongs. However, keep in mind that just because someone has a cocktail shaker,
it doesn’t make them a good bartender. It takes practice to master the art of mixing drinks with a shaker.
Let’s talk mixes
There’s more to cocktails than just alcohol, which is why it’s so important to buy mixes that allow you to come up with the best possible drinks! Here are just some of the mixes that you should always have on hand in case of an impromptu party.
- Tonic water and other carbonated beverages (such as lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, club soda and cola)
- Fruit juices (orange, tomato, cranberry, pineapple, lemonade, etc.)
- Tea, herbal tea and coffee
- Lemon juice and lime juice
Want to set up your cocktail bar like a pro? Make sure it’s stocked with several kinds of syrups such as grenadine, simple syrup, rose syrup, etc. Also, it’s a good idea to have various flavourings like Tabasco sauce and Angostura bitters on hand as well.