There are some great reasons to make cocktails at home. It's much less expensive, we can customize the strength and sweetness to our taste and, of course, it makes us very popular with friends!
All last year we had such fun creating amazing cocktails and there are lots more coming! But now that the new year is here, we thought it was time to take a step back and go over some basics. As we make the drinks, we're always making notes and we'd like to share some of what we've learned. This is by no means an all-encompassing body of cocktail knowledge but rather some tips and tricks we've picked up along the way.
So starting today, we begin a three part series on the art of cocktail making. In part one we'll discuss the basics including glasses, tools, gadgets and common liquors as well as providing some useful tips. Part two will go over common mixers, garnishes and rims as well as providing some useful syrup recipes. And finally, we'll culminate with part three on Friday (Cocktail Friday!) with a terrific new recipe. Cheers!
When we first began trying our hand at cocktail making, we looked up recipes for classic drinks. After making them, we'd decide if we liked them as is or if we wanted to tweak. More and more, we liked our tweaked versions better and that gave us the confidence and experience to get more creative.
Frozen Key Lime Daiquiris|
Finally, some of our flights of fancy result in very new cocktails that we haven't been able to find elsewhere. And that is the most fun of all!
How Does a Cocktail Make the Cut
Very simply, both Brian and I have to like it. Not each drink needs to be our favorite but we have to agree that it tastes good and is well balanced. And yes, there have been times where we've disagreed on cocktails and those definitely did not make the blog.
The Deep Freeze
Our freezer frequently looks like a frozen cocktail lounge. Nestled in with the frozen peas are various bottles of vodka and gin along with a decent selection of glasses. Most cocktails taste best cold and having frozen glasses will keep them that way longer. Keeping the liquors in the freezer will mean that less ice is melted when you shake the drink and thus it will be less diluted.
Our current stock includes:
The Old Fashioned|
Measuring jiggers come in a variety of sizes. Ours is a half ounce on one side and full ounce on the other but you can purchase a number of different size options. Because cocktail measurements need to be precise to produce a well balanced drink, we do strongly recommend using a jigger.
The long metal piece with the white tip in the photo is a muddler, and a rather recent addition to our stash. In the past we've always muddled our herbs in the shaker with the back of a wooden spoon but we saw the muddler on sale during a trip to Home Goods and bought it. Now that we've been using it, we can say that it doesn't perform any better than the wooden spoon.
Liquors and Liqueurs
Which liquors to keep at home is strictly a matter of personal taste. Although we've posted a few gin and whiskey cocktails, we're most partial to vodka and rum based drinks. Brand preference is also very personal which is why you rarely see the brand of liquor noted in our recipes.
We frequently find that liqueurs can taste "fake" and leave an aftertaste. Just as you need to be careful not to use too many flavor extracts when baking, using natural products to flavor cocktails will usually produce a better taste, not to mention a much lower cost.
So, rather than purchase apple, pear or pumpkin liqueurs, just to name a few, we've used unsweetened apple juice, pear juice and canned pumpkin puree. If a particular fruit flavor is not easily available in juice form at the supermarket or if it contains too much added sugar or artificial flavors, we just puree the fruit in a blender, add a little water if needed and then strain. Strawberry, lychees and honeydew melon make delicious purees!
Cointreau vs. Triple Sec
To see our complete list of our cocktail recipes to date, click on the A Cocktail Life tab at the top of the blog.
A Cocktail Story Part 2|