Mixing a cocktail at home is a relaxing way to unwind at the end of a long day, but there’s no fun in drinking a cocktail that doesn’t taste quite right. If your homemade cocktails aren’t up to master mixologist standards, a few simple steps might do that trick in taking your drinks up a notch. Whether you’re new to making cocktails or are a seasoned pro, here are eight things you’re probably doing wrong in your home bar and how to fix them.
- Skipping the measurements. Sure, it feels impressive to eyeball your pours, but few people successfully get the measurements right, bartenders included. The flavors of a cocktail can be subtle and nuanced, so don’t skip measuring with your jigger.
- Using old ice. We get it, it can seem fussy to make new ice cubes for your cocktails, but trust us, ice that’s been sitting around in your freezer starts to take on the flavors of what you have stored in there. For a sharper flavor in your drink, make a fresh batch of ice for a quick and easy upgrade.
- Using bottled juice. Do your cocktails taste a little too sweet or have a tinge of something artificial? If so, it’s time to switch from bottled juice to fresh squeezed. Juice straight from a lemon, lime or orange isn’t only more flavorful than the bottled variety, it’s better for you, too. Many bottled juices include added sugars that add empty calories to drinks. Always use the fresh juice within 30 minutes of squeezing it, otherwise it’ll start to oxidize. There are also specific whiskey liqueurs for mixing cocktails that are better than others.
- Shaking when you should stir and vice versa. How do you know when to shake and when to stir? It’s simple. For higher proof drinks or drinks that can withstand being a little watered down, shake. A few moments of vigorous shaking aerates drinks and dissolves more water from the ice cubes, which is perfect for your strongest drinks. For more delicately flavored libations, opt for a stir, which will ensure flavors aren’t diluted.
- Skipping the strainer. No one likes a pulpy drink or a sip full of mint leaves, so don’t skip this step. Strain your shaken and stirred cocktails before serving for a silky smooth drink.
- Serving cocktails in the wrong cups. A proper cocktail glass feels good to sip from and keeps drinks colder longer than the plastic varieties. Skip the disposable cup and invest in some glassware. You won’t look back. For an extra luxurious cocktail, put your glassware into the freezer a few hours before you plan to make a drink.
- Skipping the garnish. Garnishes not only look great, they add subtle aromatics to your drink, both sweet and savory. A twist adds a citrusy punch to drinks like an Old Fashioned or a Mint Julep while onions and olives give a savory, briny flavor to any drink.
- Having the wrong accessories. When it comes to an impressive home bar, first you need a stylish bar cart. Second, you need a well-stocked bar full of the good stuff. And finally, you need the right bar accessories to upgrade your bar cart.
Need a good quality whiskey to go with this list of tips and tricks? If you’re a fan of great whiskey and elevated cocktails, check us out. RackHouse scours the U.S. looking for the best craft distilleries with the most interesting stories to curate a unique subscription box filled with full-sized bottles of hard-to-find small batch whiskey. We’re building a community of premium craft whiskey drinkers. And you’re invited! Join us!