Every modern-day gentleman should know how to whip up a great cocktail for his guests. Having this skill shows that your refined tastes extend to more than your impeccable sense of style.
Unfortunately, many men don’t realize that there is more to crafting the perfect drink than meets the eye until they end up with some disappointing results. To save yourself the embarrassment, it’s important that you know how to create a variety of cocktails that look and taste great.
Ready to learn the fine art of crafting the perfect cocktail? Here is what you need to know.
Use the Proper Tools
As any bartender knows, a perfect cocktail is equal parts taste and presentation. The first step to crafting a winning cocktail is to make sure you have the proper tools.
Do you really need a cocktail shaker? Yes, you do.
Sure, you could mix a drink straight into the glass. But a cocktail shaker ensures that you thoroughly mix the ingredients, and it helps bring out the flavor of certain ingredients. Simply put, it’s the difference between a good cocktail and a great cocktail. Do yourself and your guests a favor and get a cocktail shaker.
In addition to a shaker, an attractive mixing glass is another tool you should consider having in your home bar. Mixing glasses have wider bases than the shaker, which makes it less likely to tip over while you’re mixing your drink. Plus, it’s clear and both you and your guests will enjoy seeing the cocktail dilute in the glass.
A bar spoon is fairly self-explanatory. Use a stainless steel one with a hammer end to muddle herbs in your mojitos or mint juleps.
Though skilled bartenders can pour without measuring, the rest of us use an hourglass-shaped measuring device called a jigger. If you’re going to be hosting larger parties and need to serve a crowd, jiggers can help you work faster.
Cocktail strainers come in two different types: a julep strainer and a Hawthorne strainer. You should have both for when you mix from a tin or a cocktail glass.
Choose the Right Glassware
If there is one thing you are going to spend your money on, it should be your barware. After all, these are what you use to serve your guests, and it is another opportunity to show off your refined tastes.
There are three glassware types you should have in your arsenal: old-fashioned, highball and martini. There are many additional types of glassware if you feel like expanding your collection, but these are the essentials.
Old Fashioned Glasses
Old Fashioned glasses (also called lowballs) are short tumbler glasses that hold short mixed drinks such as a White Russian and, of course, the Old Fashioned. Oftentimes, they are served on the rocks (with ice), but you can further impress your guests with some nice whiskey stones that won’t dilute their drinks.
Tall drinks such as the Cuba Libre, Long Island Ice Tea, or Gin and Tonic should be held in highball glasses. These glass tumblers are meant to hold 8-12 ounces and should not be confused with the Collins glass, which holds 12-16 ounces. Highball glasses are a more elegant way to serve mixed drinks to your guests.
Martini glasses are also called cocktail glasses because they are often what many people think of when it comes to classic mixed drinks. They are shaped like inverted cones with long stems and a circular base, and they are used to serve drinks like the martini and other classic cocktails that are on the shorter side.
Stock the Essentials
What you decide to stock in your home bar will depend on your alcohol preferences, but every modern gentleman should have the essentials on hand.
You probably have a good idea of the more popular types of liquor, but here is a quick list of what you might want to stock: rye whiskey, Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, brandy, bourbon, scotch, light rum, spiced rum, tequila, vodka and gin.
Having multiple types of whiskey in stock is important because different cocktails will call for different types of whiskey. Using the wrong one could ruin a perfectly good cocktail.
Medium-quality liquors are fine to use for your cocktails, but keep in mind that some of your guests may prefer their drinks neat. Keeping a few top-shelf liquors in your bar isn’t a bad idea. Not only should you treat yourself to some fine bourbon every now and then but it’s also important to keep on hand in case you really want to impress someone.
Master the Most Popular Cocktails First
Before you begin making drinks no one has heard of, you will want to learn and perfect a few of the more commonly ordered cocktails. From the Manhattan to the Moscow Mule, there are plenty of classic cocktail recipes that you should master if you truly want to make a dapper impression.
Though you can start by searching online for classic cocktail recipes, you may want to consider getting a cocktail recipe book to keep near your bar. This will allow you to quickly look up a recipe in case your guest orders something that you don’t recognize or can’t fully remember all the vital ingredients.
Expand Your Repertoire!
Once you have a few classic cocktails down pat, why not branch out and try some unique cocktail recipes? Or better yet, come up with your own! This is a great conversation starter for guests whom you may not know too well, but they will certainly remember you after you hand them the perfectly craft cocktail.
The cocktail culture has been undergoing a serious renaissance as of late, making this an essential skill for the modern gentleman. And as far as skills go, you will come to find that this skill is particularly enjoyable to learn and master.